Lowcountry saunters ahead of the 'slow travel' trend

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comApril 17, 2012 

"Slow travel" is a new trend, like its lollygagging forebears, "slow food" and "slow fashion."

Slow food is grown locally and prepared by hand.

Slow fashion is made locally and designed to last more than a season. It may be recycled, like the slow fashion at the new and improved Red Door thrift store at 1100 Ribaut Road in Beaufort, which opened this week to benefit Friends of Caroline Hospice.

Slow travelers are the type who would find the Red Door or other local institutions that might not be part of a travel brochure.

The slow traveler stays a week and chucks the long list of "must-sees" in the travel books. Slow travelers try to immerse themselves in the local culture.

They may come by train or barge. They may bring their bicycles. They may have swapped homes with someone for the week or month. They may volunteer while here. They get out and paddle the creeks, pawing at no-see-ums rather than the thermostat.

Slow travelers are interested in the quality of their experiences, not the quantity.

They slow down.

I hate to disappoint the trendy set, but that's what we've offered in the Slowcountry since the beginning of time. We could prove it if we'd ever bothered to keep time.

Beaufort was famous for a tour guide who walked backward. Its people go "in" the river to fish, "on" the river to ski, "to" the river to be baptized and "down" the river to live like Huck Finn in a rustic camp for a weekend, maybe longer.

Bluffton was defined as a "state of mind." That state was one part dock diving, one part sandbar and one part whiskey.

Hilton Head Island was labeled an "idyllic island" in the Dec. 17, 1962, Sports Illustrated in a 10-page story headlined: "Nothing to Do -- But Enjoy Yourself."

"The climate is subtropical," wrote Huston Horn, three years before he left Sports Illustrated for the Episcopal Divinity School, "and, for the young, the middle-aged and the retired, the rich and the not rich, who live there, there is nothing much to do but enjoy yourself -- your work as well as your leisure. These people have, accordingly, found what more and more Americans now seem to be seeking: an escape from overpopulated, over-mechanized, over-regimented urban and suburban centers."

We remain a haven for slow travelers who are running, not walking, away from the overpopulated, overmechanized, over-regimented vacation.

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