What is slow travel?
As it turns out, there are many ways to travel the world. You could get on board with the millennials and backpack through Europe or Southeast Asia, staying a couple of days in each destination before you’re off to see the next country, or you could try out my favorite way of traveling the world: slow travel.
Slow travel is all about, well, slowing down. Instead of rushing to tick places off your bucket list, you’re placing importance on learning about the culture through firsthand experience. Slow travel is about meeting locals, discovering your favorite local restaurants and cafes, and allowing yourself some space to take it all in. Isn’t it said that the best things in life take time?
Here’s a list of the top 5 reasons you should try out slow traveling on your next trip.
1. Experience the culture first-hand.
There’s a big difference between tourists and travelers. Travelers seek to understand new cultures and learn about other ways of life instead of merely escaping their life back home. Slow travel allows one to let the unfolding of the subtleties of a country’s culture and customs. You may partake in a local festivity or join in the crowd to watch a traditional dance ceremony. Slow travel also means you are able to befriend locals, and seeing a place through the eyes of a local is an incredible experience!
2. Learn the language.
Learning different languages can open doors. You’ll learn the language far quicker by living abroad than taking a course in your home country. If you’re living, say, in France for an extended period of time, picking up the language is almost inevitable. Going to a local market or an evening outing can be an impromptu French course, and you’ll also gain insight to the essence of the French culture and way of life. You can use an App like Duolingo to get you started before you go.
3. Get to know your way around.
When you first arrive in a new place, it’s normal to feel a bit disoriented. It takes a couple of days for me to understand the city layout, where to find food, and what parts of the city are safe or unsafe. One of the advantages of slow travel is that you’re able to really get to know a place. You have time to find your favorite spots in the city and can recognize tourist prices when you see them. When I spend time in a particular place, I usually stop by certain cafés a few times a week and get to know the baristas, which makes me feel like I’m a part of the community!
4. Depth of experience.
Anyone can speed through a one-week vacation and snap hundreds of photos to prove it, but can they say they truly got to know the places they visited? I don’t think so! It’s the difference between eating takeout from a fast food restaurant and dining in a perfectly cozy local spot for a 2-hour meal, not a care in the world. Which would you prefer?!
5. Easier on Your Mind and Body
Like I previously mentioned, travel can be exhausting, mentally, emotionally, and physically. In my opinion, rushing through each destination is actually really hard on your mind and body. Instead give yourself a break, kick your feet back, and relax. Spending a month or two in a place gives you time to take it easy, which is an important aspect of self care. You don’t have to rush to see the sights all in one day because you have time on your side!
6. Slow travel is sustainable travel
The less time you take to get from point A to point B, the less impact your trip has on the planet. Stop flying from city to city! Take your time, and the planet will breathe a sigh of relief. During the pandemic, there are incredible reports of the resilience of our planet as we pause the constant movement. This should be a huge lesson for us to slow down.