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It pays to go slow

Foraged roadside apples Tricia Hogbin Little eco footprints

Many of us will head off on a car trip at some stage during the festive season.

I used to dread long car trips, but a change in attitude, a little planning, some snacks and a thermos of tea (just like my Gran used to pack) have helped me embrace the journey.

I've learnt to love slow travel. The concept of slow travel is part of the slow movement - a movement that advocates a cultural shift toward slowing down life's pace.

Slow travel is about engaging with communities along the route and not letting the anticipation of arrival undermine the pleasure of the journey.

We'll be driving to the south coast in a few weeks. It's a trip that takes only four hours, but often takes us seven or more.

First stop is often The Australian Botanic Gardens in Mount Annan. Entry is free and being only minutes from the Hume Freeway, its café and playground provide a nice alternative to the roadside fast food stores.

Next to the café is my favourite part of the gardens, the Fruit Loop Garden, where I'll sneak a taste of bush tucker.

Late summer and early autumn, we stop in the Southern Highlands to forage apples from roadside trees. Last year we picked a huge basket. I stewed the lot and we had a freezer stash of stewed apples that we enjoyed as apple and rhubarb crumble for months.

We also often stop to breathe in the beauty of Fitzroy Falls and to browse the antique store. If it's the right time of year, we visit a nearby farm gate stall to buy a few bags of blueberries.

On longer trips we visit a library - a great place to stop because they're air conditioned, calm, free, and have power points to charge cameras, phones and laptops.

Playgrounds are another good place to stop. We use playgroundfinder.com to identify playgrounds with toilets along our route and have found some amazing ones.

Perhaps this festive season you could take time to add a little "slow" to your travels.

[Published in my column LESS IS MORE in the The Newcastle Herald Weekender Magazine 12 December 2012]