My trip to Belize with U30X in November 2016 changed the way I travel, and more importantly my outlook on life.
Before the trip, I had always done things quickly - trying to cram in as many tasks or milestones in a day, week, or year. I was that fast walker always in a rush to get somewhere.
My travel style was no different. With limited days off school or work for a trip, I packed my days full with different cities and tourist sites.
I focused on how many “must see” boxes I checked off lists, instead of the experience of travel.
After starting my career, I wanted to travel more, but I always had a hard time coordinating longer trips with friends.
I began looking into small group travel and found Under30Experiences. Immediately, I was drawn in by the focus on authentic experiences and off the beaten path travel.
I never expected to get so much more out of the trip.
Going slow is a lifestyle
We spent 5 days in Caye Caulker, a small island off the coast of Belize with a motto of “Go Slow”.
There are no cars on the island, which is accessible only by boat.
Before arriving in Belize, I thought the “Go Slow” motto was just a tourism tagline, similar to the “Virginia is for Lovers” tagline in my home state. (What does that even mean anyways?)
Little did I know, “Go Slow” is a true lifestyle for the locals on the island, and one that travelers quickly adopt.
Early on in the trip, I was walking down the road at my usual quick pace with somewhere to be, and some locals said to me
“Go Slow! You’re going too fast! You’re going to get hurt!”
It was then that it sunk in - I have to slow down.
I made a conscious effort to slow down and take in the experiences, rather than focusing on what was next on a list of things I wanted to complete.
U30X made that easier for me with an itinerary that had the perfect balance of activities and free time to do your own thing. Our awesome group leaders coordinated everything, and always had recommendations on cool things to do during the free time.
Going slow is an experience
A highlight of the trip for me was getting to know the group.
We came from different places and backgrounds, but we instantly bonded. I left Belize with great memories shared with new friends.
Swimming with whale sharks. Eating fresh grilled lobster. Celebrating a new friend’s birthday at a beach bar.
Finding the perfect spot on the island to watch the sun set over the water. Snorkeling with a sea turtle. Floating in an inner tube in the bluest water I have ever seen.
Talking on the deck under the stars and palm trees. Slowing down allowed me to fully take it all in.
I made connections with new people, while learning about the world and also myself.
Traveling slower allowed me take in the culture and really experience Belize.
I spent my time intentionally rather than flying through a packed day.
I’ve found that stillness and taking in the sights, smells, and sounds of a place create better memories than 100 hastily taken pictures on my camera roll.
Going slow is my new normal
I recently went on a trip to the Netherlands for work, and I planned my free time keeping these ideas in mind.
I took the train to Belgium, and spent the afternoon sitting outside a cafe on a lively square eating mussels and fries.
In Amsterdam, I took a bike tour to the countryside, stopping at a farm where a cheeky farmer showed us how he made cheese and clogs.
I have been working towards slowing down the pace of my daily life as well.
I take time for stillness by reading more and stepping away from electronics. I walk slower and take in my surroundings instead of rushing through my day.
I try to be present when talking to someone, instead of distractedly scrolling through my phone.
And when I lose sight of that, I think to myself “Go Slow! You’re going to get hurt!”