Traveling is one of the greatest joys in life.
Most people enjoy exploring new places, learning new things, trying new foods, and meeting new people. There are many ways to visit the same destination, and the truth is that the mindset you have when traveling can significantly influence your experience. You could go to France, Dubai, Venice, Thailand, or Bali, but if you are in a hurry, you may not notice some of the magic that defines the place you are visiting.
Many travelers have slowed their travel pace a bit because they are aware that taking a little more time to appreciate certain things can completely change your view of a place. Many call this way of traveling slow travel, and it is a trend that has been increasing in popularity, especially in recent years.
Slow travel means, in part, literally traveling slower and taking a little more time to explore the places you visit more thoroughly. But the truth is that slow travel is more a matter of mindset than pace. Slow travel emphasizes first-hand interaction with local people, their culture, food, and music and supports the idea of turning travel into experiences of cultural exchange.
When you practice slow travel you try to establish genuine and deep connections with the people you meet. You also try to immerse yourself in the local culture, understand and appreciate their customs, and make your trip an educational experience, both for you and for the people you meet while traveling. Travelers who practice slow travel seek to positively impact the community they visit, support the local economy, and get to know places tourists often do not see.
Slow travel seems to be gaining more and more popularity because it is a travel trend that proposes a complete travel experience.
Slow travel gives you a deeper insight, a more reliable experience of your destination, and a more palpable connection with the local culture. Consequently, slow travel allows you to learn more about the place you visit than a regular trip of a few days with guided tours of the most popular sites.
To slow travel you have to take the time to appreciate the small but significant details of the places you visit. Talk to local people and find out which places in the city they commonly visit and why. Go out to eat with local people and be open to trying local foods and drinks, listening to local music, and appreciating the local culture from the inside.
Slow travel is not about arriving in a city for a couple of days, taking a photo, and moving on, but about learning local history and exploring the customs. These travelers seek out hidden gems, natural parks, or beaches where only locals go and that are part of that distinctive and unexplored culture.
When you practice slow travel, in addition to taking your best travel backpack with you, it’s also essential to have a source of income to pay for your trip. After all, you have to pay for food, lodging, and transportation. Luckily, there are many ways to make money while traveling. There are even a few ways to make your trip pay for itself. Achieving this is just a matter of the adaptability and creativity of each traveler.
The truth is that there is no exact formula to follow to slow travel. Travelers find their way to appreciate the destinations they visit more deeply. Although there is no exact formula to slow travel, there are several examples we can give you of how to travel in this way.
Road trips are one of the main recommendations to turn your trip into a slow travel experience. Of course, there are places that you can only get to by plane, especially when it comes to international destinations. But a road trip presents plenty of opportunities to travel more mindfully.
Generally, you don’t have to buy a ticket ahead of time for road trips, especially if you travel in your car, which makes it much easier to adapt your plans in the heat of the moment. In addition to offering more freedom and flexibility, road trips allow you to see more remote places of the destination you visit and allow you to make stops along the way.
Of course, we are not referring to those standard group tours through the busiest destinations. We usually associate tourist tours with fast travel or travelers looking for a curated experience. But the truth is that small tours led by a good guide can be a backstage pass to your destination and can reveal facets of a place that you most likely would not have discovered yourself.
While it may seem counterintuitive, cruises can be a great option to practice slow travel since they take you to several places in a single trip, and each time they dock at a port, you have the freedom to choose what to do. Cruise companies offer guided tours by personnel from the same cruise ship, but you can choose to do tours by yourself or hire a local guide to take you to those remote and little-known places.
Although bicycle tours are not for everyone, they are an excellent way to exercise when traveling while offering an affordable form of transportation to explore. We recommend going on a multi-day cycling tour. In this way, the company you hire will most likely provide you with an appropriate guide to show you the best places to go by bike. They should also give you the correct equipment you need to enjoy your tour safely.
It is one of the things that the vast majority of the world’s different cultures have in common. Time at the dinner table is a time to share ideas and experiences especially when you eat with people from other parts of the world, it is a time to exchange cultures. Therefore, eating with locals is a slow travel activity par excellence.
In short, cultural homestay is when you stay with a family of a different nationality or culture than yours to experience cultural exchange. These types of experiences end up enriching you as an individual, as well as the family with which you stay. Cultural homestay can also refer to certain school exchange programs in which you go to study in another country while living with a local family.
There is an organization called “Cultural Homestay International” that’s been around for more than 40 years and focuses on building bridges through friendship and trust between peoples so that they experience each other’s cultures first hand. Working and living together with people from other countries can lead to transformational experiences and generate genuine and unique bonds of affection. Therefore, we believe that the Cultural Homestay is, in every way, one of the most enriching forms of slow travel.
Freighter travel is one of the most daring ways to slow travel.
It consists of finding work on cargo ships that go to a destination you’d like to travel to. When you travel in this way, in addition to saving money on transportation, you will have the opportunity to interact with the ship’s crew and get to know unique places that you probably wouldn’t see otherwise. It is more leisurely, especially for those who suffer from work burnout or those who need a break and get out of their usual context.
An excellent way to support the local economy and take better care of the environment is to eat at farm-to-table restaurants in the places you visit while traveling. Farm-to-table is a social movement in which restaurants buy or seek their ingredients only from local farms or through a direct transaction with the farmers. Farm-to-table restaurants support gastronomic experiences that support the local economy while promoting conscious meals.
Applying the following tips, even on your weekend getaway can help you form genuine connections with the places you go and with the people you meet. By applying these tips, you may even be able to see a different facet of sites you’ve been to many times before.
Leaving gaps in your travel plans will allow you to better adapt your plans. After all, an essential part of practicing slow travel is being open to adjusting your plans and being willing to do and make spontaneous discoveries. When you travel with a very tight schedule or do not leave room for changes, you limit your ability to explore. Keep in mind that when it comes to new or unfamiliar places, we most likely do not know the full potential of a trip until we’re there.
Staying local is key to having a more enriching experience. Try to stay with locals either in an Airbnb, renting a room in a local apartment, or using the Couchsurfing app. Staying local gives you the time and opportunity to meet local people and exchange culture and ideas with them.
Be open to experiencing your destination the way the locals do, try to visit the places that locals visit, eat at the places popular with the locals, and so on. When you try to experience a site as though you live there, you can generally see another angle of the destination than the one seen by travelers who are in “tourist mode.” Therefore, staying local is one of the best options when slow traveling.
When you stay longer in a place, you begin to see it differently. Quite simply it gives you more time to settle in and discover lesser-known aspects of your destination. When we arrive at the new place, we usually get wrapped up in the rush of travel. By staying longer in one place, you can leave this feeling behind and begin to see the destination you visit from a closer point of view, which allows you to appreciate other things that fast travelers usually cannot see.
This can be part of staying local. In general, the people who call your destination home do not usually frequent the same places that tourists go. In addition, the locals generally know other sites or activities in a destination than even the tourism companies themselves.
For this reason, we always recommend asking locals for recommendations on places to visit, activities to do, even places to eat, or about local food or drinks. Asking for local recommendations will open the doors to a more unique view of the destination you are visiting and give you a deeper insight into that place’s attractions, customs, and foods.
Generally, the tourist attractions only scratch the surface of what a destination has to offer. When you practice slow travel, it is best not to focus on tourist attractions and be willing to get off the busiest roads and go off the beaten path for a fulfilling experience. For example, instead of going to that beach or mountain attraction that all tourists go to, ask locals what attractions they frequent to avoid tourists.
Try to find those slightly hidden places that not all tourists have access to.
When you buy things that are made locally you support the local economy and can have a more authentic experience of your destination. This applies most of all to food, beverages, handicrafts, and – in some cases – even clothing.
Especially when you get away from the big metropolises and travel to places where industrialization and globalization have not yet taken over the local economy, you will realize that there are still many unique things made by locals that specialize in certain products.
By this, we mean not being so attached to a travel schedule or making rigid plans as to what you will do once you arrive at your destination or even where you are going to stay. When you practice slow travel, it is good to remain flexible and be open to changes or do things that may not be part of your initial plan. Slow travel is about learning to enjoy and adapt in the best way to the road ahead. To achieve this, being flexible is essential.
When you organize your trip, you have to consider transportation. Not just how to get there, but how to get around once you’re there. If possible and safe for you, try to use local transportation instead of just taking a flight. If you can walk rather than take a taxi, try to do it. Remember that speed usually breaks your connection with the landscape around you.
Slowing down the way you transport yourself from one place to another can completely change your travel experience.
It allows you to meet new people who might turn you on to new adventures, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery on the way and even the trip from point A to point B might become something memorable itself.