Deep Travel – It’s a funny term and generally speaking, I always think when something people do, gets its own definition, that it must be a bit of a fad. As I need a concise term, to allow me to communicate with you clearly though, I’m going to use ‘Deep Travel’. Please bear with me.
So what is ‘Deep Travel’?
This term describes a way of travelling around the world, that allows the opportunity to absorb as much culture as possible. A method of travel at a slow enough pace for the traveller to be able to form relationships with people who are native to any given place. A form of travel that is based around fully understanding a place – warts and all – and really getting to know it. This Tony Hiss article for the New Yorker can explain this more, if it a mildly pretentious way.
As someone who has backpacked around the world before, I learned from that travel experience. During my last big trip in 2010, I met lots of people. Pretty much all of them were other travellers though. Now, don’t get me wrong – I loved that. In South America at 28 years old and speaking little Spanish, any English speakers who were in the same boat as me, were a very welcome sight. We formed temporary alliances to help each other and provide company. Now though, as I prepare to travel around the world again, I want to do it with less of a crutch and to jump in at the deep end a little more.
As I’ve got a little more experienced, what I want out of travel is changing. Before, I wanted to have fun, see cool things, party, meet people, to not have to work, to go on a bit of an adventure without it being too challenging.
Now, I want to spend time understanding the world, to broaden my narrow mind on topics like politics, art, culture, work, food and how people live all around the world.
Think of all the cultural divides that exist. Think about places the Middle East, North Korea, Russia, USA and terrorism in Europe. We need to help cultural understanding and I don’t believe the leaders of these countries will be the ones to do it. I think with travel, we can better do this from the ground up.
The kind of travel experience I’m looking for, is the reason I’ve been making travel music playlists for different countries around the world. I love music but last time I travelled round the world, I only listening to the same British and American music I listened to at home. Now, I want to hear and get to know music from all around the world. I want to broaden my horizons – metaphorically and literally.
The first step means just as much as every other step.
I’ve been working for a company providing experience travel for a few years now, selling lots of trips with flights. I travelled by air on my last trip too but since then, I’ve had the feeling that the world is a much smaller place than it was before. Air travel has made the world feel like such a small place and that is why for my next trip, I want to feel how big the world is again. I have come to the realisation that overland travel is the way to do this.
Rather than just jumping on a plane and heading out to Asia – 7000 miles in a day. What about jumping on a train from Scotland, down to London, jumping on the Eurostar over to France, hitting the European rail networks through Belgium, Germany, East Europe and up into Russia. From there you could get the Trans-Siberian express all the way over to China – 7000 miles in two weeks minimum.
You don’t really understand how far you’ve gone, if you don’t see how much ground has passed under your feet? – Dara O’Briain (comedian & travel show presenter)
I hear of digital nomads and people who work remotely, setting up in a place for a couple of weeks and really getting to know it, whilst working on their laptop to support themselves. The first person I met like this was in Popayan, Colombia and was doing just that. This sounds really interesting to me. These people seem like they are on the same page. What is the point of going to a place only to barely scratch the surface?
I’ve moved around a lot and lived for extended periods of time in The Highlands of Scotland, Midlands of England, London, Melbourne, Bath, Edinburgh and Glasgow. I like to move around but I haven’t had as much freedom as I’d like. Sure, we all have responsibilities and feel like we can’t just up and leave but I think for me, an element of freedom is key to a happy, healthy life.
I haven’t yet planned my next trip – it’s too early. At the moment, I am in the preparation stages. I am saving funds, completing commitments and tying up loose ends. When it comes time to plan my next trip however, the trip ethos and travel experience will be a much bigger considerations than last time.