Have you heard of the latest travel trend known as the slow travel movement? It’s a new approach to travel that’s quickly gaining popularity for a good reason.
Have you ever returned from your holiday feeling like you need another one right away? Do you get overwhelmed with travel planning and feel like you have to cram it all in?
Slow tourism might be just what you’re looking for.
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What is Slow Travel?
The definition of slow tourism can mean many things to many people, but one thing we all agree on is that slow travel is the intent to be more connected to and immersed in the places we visit.
It’s about being more purposeful in understanding the culture, the history, the people and (arguably most importantly) the food of the destinations we travel.
Slow tourism is the movement in which travelers intentionally engage in authentic experiences to learn and appreciate the culture of a place we’re in.
It’s a stark contrast to the drive-by tourism we’ve seen take over the travel industry of the last part of the 2010s decade.
The Instagram effect (travel influencers blowing up our feeds with unrealistic travel), airbnbs making accommodation more accessible than ever, and air travel being the cheapest it’s ever been has made us all more ‘competitive’ in our travels.
This has resulted in overtourism, destroying local communities and encourages the bragging rights of people counting the number of countries they’ve visited.
Who cares about how many countries you’ve visited? Why is this something people brag about? I wonder how many people have seen the world but haven’t really seen it?
It reminds me of the Bob Marley quote “some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.”
Being aware of your feelings being in the moment. It’s not just taking a photo and moving on to the next spot.
To Further Explain the Definition the Definition of Slow Tourism, It’s:
Meaningful and travel experiences that make you pause and reflect;
Connecting to the community and its culture;
Being immersed and involved;
The feelings you get when you truly connect to a new place;
Savoring every activity; and
Simply unwinding and not feeling guilty about having a jam packed itinerary.
Benefits of Traveling Slowly
Why is slow tourism becoming more popular? Probably because it has so many benefits – to you, the community and the economy of the places you visit, and to the environment.
The personal benefits you will gain from traveling slowly are abundant.
When you immerse yourself, you’ll enjoy a more rewarding experience by having enjoyed a deeper and therapeutic connection to the place you’re visiting.
You’re often rewarded by finding hidden, local gems that are often missed by most other tourists.
You’ll feel more accomplished. It’s much more likely that you’ll learn so much more about yourself and what you can achieve. This is always a confidence booster.
Chances are, you will learn more of the local language by staying longer and with more intent (and also forces a little more work out of yourself to do this).
Slow travel can be budget friendly. Longer term stays are usually cheaper, plus you’ll have your own kitchen so that you can spend less on dining out.
Or maybe you have more time to find a little boutique hotel in a different neighborhood off the beaten path.
When you finally get to experience the freedom of no schedule or itinerary, the endless benefits of decluttering your mind are priceless.
For many people, it takes several days (if not a week or more), to finally decompress and forget about work and other stresses.
You truly get to unwind. Have you ever felt yourself feeling the need to have a vacation after your vacation? Slowing down and being more in the moment when you travel helps with that.
Slow tourism is also more beneficial to the local economy. Slow travelers are more likely to visit local markets and shops.
And by connecting with locals, you become a more responsible traveler.
You’re more conscious of creating fewer negative environmental and social impacts. You’re also more likely to volunteer in the community or choose local or be more driven to choose a homestay or locally owned accommodation.
For instance, when we visited Holbox Island in Mexico, we discovered that a local tour company provided free tours in exchange for a couple hours of picking up garbage along the beach.
This option was only offered once a week, and I’m not sure we would have found out about it if we were only around for a few days.
How Do You Travel Slowly?
If this idea of slow tourism is connecting with you, you might be wondering how you can embrace more slow travel approaches to your next vacation.
What’s important to know is that you don’t need to be retired or have an unlimited amount of vacation days to practice this. Anyone can travel more slowly!
Here’s How You Can Slow Down Your Vacation and Learn to Travel Slowly:
It can be as simple as a road trip. Take a day or two and choose the backroads or a different route than normal.
This can be a great introduction to leaving your schedule behind and going with the flow.
Slow travel doesn’t always have to mean traveling for weeks or months at a time.
Start by grabbing a copy of the Slow Travel book, by travel guru Jennifer M. Sparks. She will inspire you and give you the courage to wander through her practical advice and years of traveling this way.
Choose accommodations that are suited for slow travel. Stay longer in your destination by renting a house or an apartment on Airbnb or a cottage out in the country. You can try homestays or housesitting, too.
P.S. – Use these tips to find out how to score the perfect Airbnb rental every time.
Renting an RV is another great option. Traveling this way gives you the freedom and flexibility to stay as long as you want if you discover a new spot you love.
Try to find something a little off the beaten path or something that has character and history.
We stayed at an eco resort in the middle of the Mayan jungle for a few days, and it was the perfect setting for a restorative vacation.
Only shop at local markets and avoid big grocery stores. Eat at local, hole-in-the-wall restaurants. (Hint – small restaurants that don’t focus on flashy ambiance and decor usually put all of their effort into perfecting delicious food).
Try out Eat With. It’s basically the Airbnb of dining. You can enjoy a home cooked meal with a local host in their home anywhere in the world. Think of a personalized wine and cheese tasting in a Parisian apartment or learn how to make fresh pasta from scratch in Sicily.
Travel in the off season when you can (it’s cheaper, too). When it’s less busy, you’ll have a better chance getting more facetime with the locals and finding out about all the hidden gems.
Talk to the bartenders. Grab a seat at the bar and strike up a conversation and find out where they like to go when they’re not working.
We’ve learned about some great restaurants and outdoor parks to visit this way.
In New Orleans, one of our bartenders told us about his favorite restaurant that served Alligator Cheesecake, and said that it wouldn’t be a trip to N’awlins without it!
Don’t over schedule or fill your itinerary to the second. If you happen to be spending a week or more in one spot, challenge yourself to have no schedule and just wander for the first couple of days.
Use a travel journal to capture your memories instead of only your phone. Journaling can be a great way to connect and help you remember the little details of your trip.
And then after you return home, you will have more to look back on than just your photos.
This journal includes prompts to help guide you along the way, so you never have to worry about writer’s block!
Do you like to travel slowly on your holidays? How else do you slow down and connect on vacation? Let me know in the comments below!
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