Erika Owen’s book, “The Art of Flaunering,” due out in October 2019 has been a beautiful and eye-opening guide to the practice of “flaneuring,” or intentionally wandering without a destination or plan in mind.
She offers some tips for beginning “flaneurs” on how to get started:
1. Invest in New Shoes Meant for Walking.
Either you can buy some new kicks to help you flaneur around town or carry a second pair meant for getting you from point A to B. This advice might be lost of some of you who wear the same shoes or go barefoot everywhere you go. That’s not me. So to each his or her own.
2. Take Breaks.
You’re not walking a marathon here. Especially if you haven’t walked much in the past (or more recently) take your time. That’s the point. Don’t rush around to hurry from place to place. Take it easy and get a break when you need it. While resting, absorb all the sights and sounds around you.
3. Make Up a Game.
Only make left turns for 15 minutes. Search for a red balloon. Stroll through every corner market you see. Do something “fun and silly” that could spark your imagination or creativity.
4. Set Limits.
If you do have a final destination, like your workplace or a friend’s house, that is an ideal stopping place. If not, then set a time limit on it. Don’t overdo it so you end up somewhere way too far away in a place unknown to you.
5. Resist Boredom.
Look for something you’ve never seen before. Or find something very commonplace and look at it a little closer. See if you can discover something new that you’ve never previously noticed. If you like to doodle, bring along a sketchpad. If you are a writer or poet, journal or scribble a haiku.
6. Journal Afterwards.
Even if you did so during your journey, take some time to jot down your memories at the conclusion of the trek afterwards. Keep your journals to go “explore” later. These might remind you of something that you’ve forgotten or give you some new insight of how you’ve changed or grown. These captured memories will be a treasure for you in the future.
7. Be Safe.
Unfortunately, there are still bad people and bad places that may not be safe to “flaneur” in, even here in America. Gender, race, sexual orientation and an area you might want to explore are all important factors to weigh. Be informed before you go. Talk to someone who lives there or is from there. If you go somewhere and don’t feel safe, have an exit strategy, call an Uber, get a friend to pick you up. Tell someone where you’re going if it is a new place you haven’t been before. Wear bright colors when flaneuring at night. Ask a friend to tag along. Know your physical limitations.
Have fun! Be Safe!