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Companion Ticket: Award-winning writer Carl Honoré

30 Second Snapshot

Name  Carl Honoré
Your home base  London
Aside from a passport, the three items you always travel with  Noise-cancelling headphones; notebook for sketching and writing; running shoes
Your perfect meal on the road  Grilled fish or seafood, glass of crisp white wine and a view of the sea
The best thing you’ve read in the last 6 months  Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Your travel soundtrack  Slate podcasts and Sigur Ros                                                                          
The one place you’ve been that you think everyone should visit  The Bolivian Altiplano for the stark beauty of the light, the landscape and people                                                                  
The one place you’ll always return to, no matter how many times  Whitstable, England – for  the oysters, the sea breeze and the family memories                                                    
The one Never-Have-I-Ever destination that you hope to visit  Cuba – for the sui generis blend of culture, politics and joie de vivre                                                                                  
The one thing that most surprised you on your last trip  Gstaad, Switzerland – I always forget how green and grassy the Alps are

For those who haven't already seen Carl's TED Talk, this is the man who encourages us to embrace our "inner tortoise". Opposing the speed-obsessed society we seem to be living in, here we take the opportunity to slow down and dig a little deeper... 

What was the inspiration behind In Praise of Slow?
It was when I started reading bedtime stories to my son. Back then I was living so fast that I even zoomed through the classic fairy tales, skipping lines, paragraphs, whole pages. My version of Snow White had just three dwarves in it! "What happened to Grumpy?" my four-year-old son would ask. Then one day I caught myself eyeing a collection of One-Minute Bedtime Stories and think Snow White boiled down to 60 seconds and that is when the alarm bells started ringing. It was a powerful wake-up call. I suddenly thought, am I really in such a hurry that I'm prepared to fob off my son with a soundbite instead of a story? I knew then that I was racing through my life instead of living it and that I had to change.
How would you describe a typical day that embraces the Slow Movement?
I don’t really have an ordinary day! Some days I sit at a desk and write. Other days I travel. On others I give interviews or deliver keynotes. Sometimes I’m filming or recording for TV or radio. Yesterday I took the train to Paris and spent the afternoon preparing a talk that I gave this morning. What is common to all my days, however, is that I no longer feel rushed all the time. I set aside enough time to do things well and enjoy them thoroughly. I also take lots of breaks to slow down.
What is your favourite part of what you do?
Playing with language. I love words – the way they sit together on the page and the music they make when spoken aloud. I love how the right words have the power to change the world. Which is why writing and speaking are the favourite part of what I do.
Does travel influence your work and vice versa?
Definitely. As a former foreign correspondent, I’m an inveterate traveller. My way of understanding the world is to move around it, looking, listening, tasting, pondering, chatting. When you do it right, travel can also be a wonderful antidote to the virus of hurry. It offers a heaving smorgasbord of new experiences, lessons and sensations which can only be savoured properly if you slow down.
How would you embrace the idea of Slow Travel when on a journey?
By doing fewer things but giving those things the time and attention they deserve. And by hanging out with locals wherever possible.
Are there any tried and tested Slow Travel tips you can share?
Get lost at least once by walking around without a map or GPS. Get a haircut: barbers and hair salons are wonderful places to plug straight into the local community. Start sketching: nothing forces you to slow down and savour the fine grain and texture of a place more than trying to draw it.