What is it and how do you do it?
What is it and how do you do it?
What is it and how do you do it?
The way we travel has drastically changed in the past 75 years, journeys take way less time, flights have become cheaper, and thanks to social media we’ve all created a big FOMO.
When we go on a holiday or travel for a longer period, we tend to do it in a fast-paced style. We finally get to see our bucket list destination and urge to see and do everything on the popular to-do lists, often for the sake of capturing photos for social media and quickly moving to the next spot or country. This pressure to keep moving faster leaves us tired, stressed, and always thinking about what’s next instead of what’s going on right now.
Coming home from a trip exhausted and immediately needing another vacation to rest is what we call “tourist burnout”.
But wasn’t traveling meant to reenergize our spirit? And allow us to immerse ourselves in new experiences and cultures?
SO WHAT IS SLOW TRAVEL?
Slow travel is the art of slowing down in a fast pace world and getting back to the root of why we travel. It originates from the slow food movement in Italy in 1986, as a backlash against overproduction and food waste after the arrival of a McDonald’s franchise near Rome’s Spanish Steps.
The goal with slow travel isn’t to quickly ramp stamps in our passport for bragging rights or just have a whirlwind tour of an entire country in a short amount of time, to check off the top things to do just because every blogger or influencer does it and tells you to.
Slow travel encourages you to experience and see more by moving less, seeking depth and breadth of experience rather than mileage. It’s about the journey itself rather than the destination. It allows you to explore more carefully, forge deeper connections and understand different ways of life, which makes your trip more immersive, authentic, and satisfying.
BENEFITS OF SLOW TRAVEL
1. SLOW TRAVEL IS BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT.
The carbon footprint of a slow traveler is significantly reduced by flying less and instead taking the train or road-tripping in a campervan. Slow travels also tend to consume less of the local resources and contribute less to over-tourism by traveling off-the-beaten-path to less-visited destinations. It encourages you to be a more responsible and mindful traveler.
2. IT ENCOURAGES YOU TO STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Slowing down and not having a fully planned trip can be scary as you have no idea how things will work out. It allows you to break out of your comfort zone and create confidence, these moments can teach you valuable lessons that will make you a more knowledgeable traveler and gives you a global perspective.
3. CONNECT DEEPER
When you slow down you have more time to connect and interact with the locals and experience the culture and daily lives better. You also have the opportunity to make more friends on a deeper level as you get to spend more time together. I’ve made friends for life while traveling whom I’m still in touch with and love dearly.
4. SLOW TRAVEL IS CHEAPER
Traveling slowly is cheaper as you often get a discount on your Airbnb or homestay if you stay longer. Monthly rent on Airbnb can be the same price as booking it for 2 weeks. Big bonus if you have a kitchen during your stay so you can make your meals yourself. Additionally, you cut down transportation costs significantly.
5. Off the beaten track
Slow travel allows you to explore the under-the-radar spots that are not visited by most tourists and are likely way less crowded. As you become friends with locals they often give tips for the local hidden gems or you find them just by wandering around.
6. Live like a local and learn about the culture
As you travel slowly, you spend time with the locals. You learn more about historical facts and experience new cultures, languages, habits, local food, etc. You will be able to fully immerse yourself in it all and live like a local.
HOW CAN YOU TRAVEL SLOWLY?
Take a step back and think about the reason behind your desire to travel, what do you truly want to get out of it? A fast and furious tour seeing ‘everything there is to see’, changing locations every 2-3 days? Or do you want to feel like a local, spending your days exploring the off-the-beaten path? Enjoying nature, immersing yourself in the culture, or taking the time to learn something new? Perhaps the language, a new sport, or a new hobby.
If you are craving a more authentic experience, one that leaves you with a feeling that you truly got to know the places, people, and cultures that you’ve encountered on your travels, it could be time to s-l-o-w down.
Slow travel isn’t necessarily about the amount of time you can stay but about the experience, you get along the way. You can slow travel in 2 weeks just by slowing down, being flexible, and leaving gaps in your planning. Having more time gives you a better overall experience but you can always come back another time and immerse yourself in the country once again.
Take the opportunity to experience a different rhythm of life by going to the market, cooking local food, and even doing nothing. You can wake up without plans for the day, unconvinced of the adventures that await you, but with the knowledge that what you’ll experience will mean so much more than a post on social media could convey.
SLOW TRAVEL IDEAS
1. Road trip
Take your car or rent/buy a van and slowly road trip through a country, waking up in stunning places in nature, watching the sun go down while cooking a meal in your van, and driving on the wide open roads is truly one of my favorite ways to travel and to slowly explore every corner of a country. (Driving might not seem sustainable at first glance, but it’s better than taking the plane, especially if you don’t make huge distances in a short period of time)
Nothing is slower and more beautiful than getting around on foot. Take your time climbing to the mountain top and enjoy the view! Is there anything more authentic than Mother Nature?
3. Make use of working holiday visas
Make use of working holiday visas and work & travel abroad
With a working holiday visa, you get to work and travel for up to 12 months in different countries around the world (such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada, UK, The Netherlands). The requirements are that you need to be under 18-30 (35 for some countries)
This was my lifesaver when I started traveling, as I knew I wanted to leave for a longer period but didn’t know how to finance it. I can’t recommend this enough as I feel like there’s no better way to experience a country and its culture than by working in it.
4. Volunteer abroad
Volunteering is a beautiful way to give back while traveling. It also gives you a rich experience and a deeper understanding and connection to the place. There are different sites where you can apply for volunteer work or a Workaway. (Work away is volunteering in exchange for food and accommodation.)
Slow travel is not just a way to travel, it’s a mindset. It’s the outlook that the quality of your experience is more important than the quantity of your experiences when you travel.
I believe in the benefits of slow tourism and it’s important to remember that we as travelers can foster a pull-through effort of tourism marketing. As more travelers become aware of their impact on the destinations they visit and the planet, you’ll see more slow travel opportunities emerge.
HAVE YOU EVER TRIED SLOW travel?
Let me know in the comments below 🙂