Why I Walk Everywhere – And You Should Too
Imagine if you could transport yourself from one place to another without paying an exuberant amount in congestion charges or a single cent to overenthusiastic vendors. Imagine travelling tax free, and in a way that saved the planet at the same time. Imagine if this technology was so cheap, easy-to-use, culturally sensitive and readily available the world over that it could be used by every single person, every single day. How amazing is science and technology in the 21st century? We have come so far since our primal great-great-great-great grandparents hoisted themselves up on two legs and began to walk the Earth.
Or have we?
Walking is no new concept. Our ancestors have been propelling one foot in front of the other for thousands of years. As people have gotten lazier, and the technology we use every day has gotten crazier, we seem to have forgotten how handy walking can be. Especially when we are all poor hobos catching budget flights the world over with carry-on baggage only, layering all our jumpers and ski jackets in such a fashion that if we were to sink over the Indian Ocean, we wouldn’t require use of any self-inflating life vests. Walking is not only the layperson’s greatest asset, but it is one of the greatest tools a traveller could ever utilise. To prove it, I present to you the following.
More pasta, more Pringles, more Prosecco
There is no way I ever could have persisted with a pack-a-day Haribo gummy confectionary habit throughout two months in Europe if I hadn’t have been walking my bloody arse off day in and day out. I’m sure most dieticians would agree this isn’t a sustainable (or healthy) practice. But when you walk everywhere, anything is possible. Just ate a whole pizza? Good. You should be carb loading anyway for your afternoon climb up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Food is fuel, and all the more important when you are committing to the cheapest form of transport available.
Seriously, name another mode of transport with that kind of guarantee. We can barely afford public transport at home, how are we supposed to extend this privilege to overseas travel when we don’t even have our weekly incomes to rely on? There are far better things you could spend money on rather than be squished into a space barely larger than your tightest pair of jeans on a grimy underground train breathing recycled air. Just think, that spare change could be put towards air-conditioned hostel rooms, a bottle of red (or three) and surfing lessons. Even a tip to the slightly crazy but free tour guide whose tour runs two hours over time has the potential to be a better way to throw money away.
You don’t have to be good with numbers
Budgeting to travel is hard enough (for those of you who do manage it – I applaud you). But to worry about bus numbers, train platforms and departure and arrival times as well? It becomes a bit much to ask when our brains are already pretty fried from a lack of sleep, food poisoning or alcohol or a combination of the three. The great thing about walking is that your biggest worry can be avoiding trip hazards and working out which side of the road any incoming traffic is coming from.
It allows you to people watch without seeming like a creep
When we travel, we generally associate culture with accents and languages, national foods, architectural masterpieces and larger than life rituals. We get so caught up seeking out the big things that we tend to forget culture can be found in the little things too. For this reason, I can’t recommend the passive pastime of people watching enough. It is much easier to look inconspicuous when your legs have a purpose, making walking and people watching the perfect combination. An early morning park walk could provide for a dog-lover’s dream, while an evening river stroll may prove romance hasn’t suffered a 21st century demise. To up the thrill-seeking factor, try venturing through the same area during different parts of the day or even several days in a row. The possibilities are endless!
And when people aren’t satisfying enough, side alleys can hold impressively rebellious (or rude) street art, peddlers may have more talent than can be found on the iTunes chart and supermarket windows display smallgoods so fresh they might not pass international food safety standards. If you take a bus or catch a train, you might just miss out on the most comforting, quirky or downright bizarre aspects of an area.
Maybe our most recent ancestors were on to something when they invented planes, trains, ships and cars. Obviously they did it just so we could traipse the most far-flung corners of the globe on our own two feet.
Cover by Kevin Lee