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There’s a special pleasure in visiting any place when you’ve got there under your own power. When you travel this way, the journey is just as important as the destination.

Whether your preferred DIY transport mode is bicycle, walking, running, paddling or pogo stick, you’re really in the world when you move under your own steam, not insulated by glass or metal. When you’re travelling at the right speed to talk to strangers, detour or stop and take in the scene (or take a picture), you’ll also hear the birds and feel the micro and macro climates as you pass by.

Even if you’re moving down a road you’ve been down many times in a car, when you slow down and take away the engine it really is a completely different experience.

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Being in the world

The flipside of all this is that you become much more vulnerable, both to the weather and all the other humans who are travelling too fast. Many parts of the world have taken steps to do something about this, with initiatives like bike paths, mixed use paths and rail trails.

While the Northern Rivers of NSW has been late to this party, some shires are starting to catch on, and catch up with the massive opportunities presented by DIY transport.

In spite of the objections of purists, the growth of electrically assisted transport has also opened the slow travel world up to the elderly and disabled. The Cycling Without Age movement is showing the way here.

For walkers, inventions like The Trekker’s Friend have made it easier to carry large loads on long treks and pilgrimages like the Camino.

For paddlers, the many waterways of NSW and far beyond have been opened up by companies like the Ballina-based Global Paddler.

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Rent or buy

If you want to enjoy the best of both worlds, and don’t want to lug all your gear with you, considering renting a bike or canoe when you get wherever you’re driving.

Even if you’re not particularly fit, with a bit of practice, it’s amazing how far a human being can travel on a bowl of porridge, or a few muesli bars and an apple.

When you return to your car, bus or plane, you will have a renewed appreciation of the risks and beauty of life beyond the glass, and hopefully a new respect for the creatures we share this planet with, who always travel under their own power, as we did ourselves for most of our evolutionary history.

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David Lowe