It’s no longer about seeing as much as you can, globe-trotters are increasingly taking the more immersive approach to seeing and experiencing the world known as “slow travel.”
This distinctive approach to travel involves immersing oneself in a single place for an extended period of time, rather than rushing from one destination to the next in an attempt to see and do “everything.” It’s ideal for travelers looking to really get a feel for the local culture. Plus who wants to return from a trip exhausted from constantly being on the move? Here’s how to master the art of slow travel to ensure you return home from your next trip feeling rejuvenated.
Choose a destination where you can linger
Slow travel is about enjoying your surroundings over a longer period of time, unfettered by the fear of missing out. Your destination needs to be somewhere you think you can do that. If non-stop sightseeing would be important to you in a place like Italy, perhaps save Italy for another trip. If you go stir-crazy at the beach after a few hours, don’t plant yourself in a seaside resort town.
Book a longer trip
This isn’t an option for everyone, of course. But if you’re able to swing it, a longer trip—at least two weeks—will help you get to know your destination much more intimately while also allowing you to take it easy.
Skip the itinerary
No to-do lists and itinerary-planning allowed. Slow travel is all about going with the flow. You can, of course, research a place to get a sense of what there is to see and do. The difference with slow travel is that the research becomes a mental list of possible activities to do—if and when you have time—rather than a fixed schedule.
Book a house, not a hotel
Vacation rentals, like those on Airbnb, tend to be more cost-effective for longer stays. They also offer amenities that will help you feel more at home, like a kitchen and laundry facilities. There may be days on your slow travel trip when you don’t want to do anything at all—a house offers a much more comfortable space to lounge around in.
Stay in one place
It’s only when you experience the relief of knowing you don’t need to pack up your suitcase to rush off to your next destination that relaxation starts to set in. Resist the urge to see every attraction or make day trips to nearby landmarks just because you’re close by. Commit to basing yourself in one place, but...
Be flexible, too
By doing away with your itinerary, you open yourself up to new experiences you wouldn’t have had if you were committed to boarding a plane or train to another town. With a day free of plans, you can enthusiastically agree to any spontaneous opportunities that arise.
Bring an e-reader…
Pre-load it with all those books you’ve been meaning to dive into but haven’t had the time to. Slow travel is the perfect opportunity to binge-read free of guilt. We recommend doing some research on books set in your destination—there’s nothing quite like experiencing a new place firsthand while reading about it from someone else’s perspective.
...And a notebook.
Challenge yourself to write for at least half an hour every day. Document the smells, the sounds, the tastes, the names of those you meet—all the tiny details that will be the first to slip your mind once you’re back home. Your firsthand narrative, when paired with your camera roll, will make it much easier to revisit your trip years later.
Get the contact information of your new friends
You can continue to live out the thoughtful nature of the slow travel lifestyle when you return home by staying in touch with those you met on the road. Did someone cook you dinner? Help you find your way when you were lost? Give you a ride? Send them a small care package from home and tell them how much their hospitality meant to you. You never know who could become your next pen pal.
Live like a local
When you travel slowly, you’re no longer a tourist. You don’t have to see and do things because you feel like you should. Instead, follow a local’s lead. Eat and drink where they eat and drink. Visit the shops, parks, and restaurants where they like to hang out. It won’t be long before tourists are coming to you for directions.
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