sustainable travel Feed

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 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]

Simple living isn't about deprivation....

Simplicity does not have to mean depravation Bali holiday 1

Simple living isn't about deprivation, it is about making choices.

It's about choosing what is truly important and grabbing it with both hands. It's about learning to live without all the other less important stuff that clutters your space and time. 

Not everyone's simple living will look the same. What's important to one person will be different to what is important to another.  

I struggle to accept what my simple living looks like.

Coming to terms with my style of simple living is a recurring theme in this space: 

2011: I'm not gardening, I'm barely cooking, and i'm not even cleaning my own home....

2010: Finding MY sustainable sustainable life

2009: Who was I kidding!!!

Recently, I've been learning to accept that simple living doesn't have to mean deprivation. 

We recently spent a week at a resort in Bali. The family holiday was a generous gift from Daddy Eco's parents to celebrate his 40th Birthday. Daddy Eco's family lives on the opposite side of the country so spending time with grandparents, cousins and an aunty and uncle was a real treat for Little Eco. 

It was a trip of a lifetime - for all of us - but especially so for Little Eco. 

Simplicity does not have to mean depravation 2

Simplicity does not have to mean depravation 4

Simplicity does not have to mean depravation 5

Simplicity does not have to mean depravation 6

Simplicity does not have to mean depravation 7

I'm not in any way going to try and claim that the trip wasn't extravagant. Or that our holiday didn't come with a huge ecological footprint. It did. Our flights and accommodation alone emitted an estimated 8 tonnes of CO2. This is more than what would be emitted by the electricity consumption of an average household in a year. 

It took me a few days to lighten up and to stop feeling guilty about the environmental impact of our holiday. But the holiday wasn't about was about spending time with family. 

Little Eco was also exposed to more new sites and lessons in that single week than in the previous few months. 

I don't want to deprive her of that. 

We enjoyed the overseas travel and have decided that we would like to take Little Eco on at least one more overseas trip during her childhood (along with a whole lot of travel within Australia). I believe we can travel overseas without increasing our ecological footprint by ridiculous amounts. We just have to make sacrifices in other less important areas and look at how we can reduce the environmental impact of overseas travel. For example by exploring alternatives to plane travel, shortening flight distances, and by choosing food and accommodation wisely. 

It's about making choices. 

Do you feel like you are depriving yourself or your children in your quest to live sustainably? Is your space and time cluttered by stuff that doesn't really matter? 

You won't find these in a McDonalds playground

I've changed my attitude to car trips over the past few years. The journey has become almost as important as the destination. I used to dread long car trips, but a change in attitude, a packed lunch, some snacks, and a thermos of tea have changed that. I now well and truly love slow travel.

We had to drive to the south coast of NSW last weekend. It's supposed to be a four hour journey, but it took us almost seven hours. 

We stopped to forage apples from the side of the road. Little Eco enjoyed exploring the huge old tree and picking apples. She insisted on eating a few despite their bitter 'not quiet ripe' taste making them more suitable for cooking.

Exploring Hawkesbury River  <p><br /></p> <p><a title=

We stopped at the Hawkesbury River foreshore. Little Eco ran through the trees, watched a Pelican catch fish, compared the touch of slippery seaweed to slimy wobbly jellyfish, and jumped in puddles.

Orange Berry - Bush Tucker

We stopped at the Australian Botanic Gardens in Mount Annan and enjoyed the playground and a wander through through the bush tucker garden. We snuck a taste of various fruits and particularly enjoyed the Orange Berry,  which I now plan to add to our garden.

Fitzroy Falls, NSW

We stopped to breath in the beauty of Fitzroy Falls and Little Eco got to see her first waterfall. We watched a pair of Lyre Birds scratching for food and chatted about the stuffed Pelican in the Information Centre that died after eating a plastic bag.

Playing fancy-dress in an antique shop

We also popped into one of our favourite antique stores. The picture above was taken on a previous trip. Antique stores and op shops have become a favourite place to stop when travelling. We chat to Little Eco about some of the more bizarre items and point out things from our childhood.

Taking a break at the library when travelling

Libraries have also become a favourite place to stop when travelling. They're air conditioned, calm, free, and have power points to charge cameras, phones and lap tops.

Playground fun

Playgrounds are another great place to stop. Have you used Playground Finder? You can search for playgrounds by suburb or post code and can even restrict your search to include only playgrounds with toilets.

You won't find any of these experiences or learning opportunities in a McDonalds playground.

Where do you stop when travelling? Do you speed through towns without a second glance or do you embrace adventure and explore new places? Do you travel prepared with drinks and food or do you find yourself resorting to fast food chains at the last minute?

The Little Eco household is skipping super chains, including fast food chains, for all of 2012 as part of our Skipping the Supermarket Challenge.