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What was your last vacation like? Did you really get the rest you were longing for all year long, or did you arrive home exhausted, wishing for nothing but a hot shower and to spend the next day in bed?

Most people in the world today live a rushing, fast-paced life, and this lifestyle seeps into the way we travel. We try to cram as much “vacation” into the limited time we have as possible, checking off landmarks, restaurants, and theme parks from our lists as if we were paid to do so.

But rushing from tourist attraction to tourist attraction robs the whole concept of travel of its depth and meaning. Luckily, there is a new movement quietly emerging to show us that we can do better – slow travel.

What is Slow Travel and Why You Should Care?

Venice sightseeing

What is Slow Travel?

Have you heard of the slow movement? It is a movement that advocates slowing down one’s life pace in an increasingly rushing world.

The concept all began with an Italian named Carlo Petrini who founded the “slow food” movement as a form of protest against the opening of a McDonald’s fast food joint in Rome in 1986. Slowly, this movement has grown into a subculture, and “slow travel” is its latest offshoot.

Slow travel doesn’t refer to the actual speed at which you’re traveling but to a different mindset you adopt while away from home. Instead of rushing to tick off as many sights your lift as you can in the shortest possible time, you slow down, take the time to explore your destination thoroughly, and truly connect with its people, its culture, and its atmosphere as a whole.

Hi Five for international volunteers.

How to Travel Slow(er)

Instead of rushing from the airport to your hotel, rent a small cottage in, say, a French village for a week or two.

Don’t rush to the restaurant to eat the included breakfast, but cook it for yourself and eat it on the porch. Or go to the small cafeteria the locals love so much, order a cup of coffee and a croissant. Actually take the time consume them while you read the local papers, play Android pokies or simply look at the people walking by.

Instead of a guided tour of all the sights in the area, take the time to explore the surroundings by foot – or by bike. Shop at the local stores and farmers’ markets. Talk to the people. Find out where they like to eat, to drink, to spend their time.

This way you can give yourself the time to really get in tune with their pace, to find out more about their lives, and to truly absorb the atmosphere of the place you stay in, turning your experience from a sterile rush to a truly relaxing and de-stressing one.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

    14 Comments

  1. When your budget is limited, it is so very tempting to cram a vacation with as much as you can, as if that helps you get your money’s worth. And that is how I have traveled a lot. However, I am slowly learning that having higher value experiences with a few places is a lot better than rushed experiences in a lot of places.

    • Absolutely Tamara, I think we’ve all fallen into that trap before – I’ve planned out many whirlwind itineraries in the past, but looking back, the trips I’ve most enjoyed have been those where we’ve experienced less, but done it really well 🙂

  2. We have slow traveled for years.. lately, with airBnB we have found that staying at these awesome homes is so satisfying. We always get a place with a kitchen and lots of extra space over some crappy hotel for a LOT less $$s. Doing so, allows us to be able to use the extra money to rent a car or eat out once in a while but still explore the local culture. I gotta say, living like the locals is so much more worth it then rushing around.
    I remember a tour bus in Paris that said, “see 60 sights in 2 hrs” and I was so disgusted with the idea.. Paris should be explore slowly.

    • Totally with you on staying in a local house or apartment – it makes for so much more of an immersive experience, especially when you’re able to visit local grocery stores and cook for yourself, stay in local neighborhoods etc.

      Oh wow 60 sights in 2 hours gives me anxiety just thinking about it!! What’s the point if you’re there for 2 seconds to snap a photo and be shuttled off – may as well stay at home at that point, that’s like 2 minutes per attraction tops!

  3. Actually, slow travel is the shift we are making as I am approaching 70 and Bill, 75. It is the only way to go and I have rebranded as Carolina: Cruising Past 70. We are taking it slow, spending 6-7 months in Phoenix, 2-3 in Mazatlan, and 2-3 elsewhere in the world. We are taking all your suggestions to heart, shopping for groceries, cooking our meals and taking them on the balcony. Even joining local groups.

    • Fabulous Carol – yes, I’ve found that my travel style has evolved and changed towards favor of slow travel also. When I was younger, it was all about the whirlwind, the party, and cramming as much as possible in. I didn’t mind sleeping on buses and trains back then. But now I enjoy savoring the moment and really immersing myself in place 🙂

      Enjoying local groups is a great tip, thanks for sharing! And happy travels!

  4. Slow Travel is always something that I enjoy – it was a really incredible experience to just get away from all the hustle and bustle in your normal routine, and truly get to know a place and what it has to offer. France is definitely on my list for my next slow travel adventure. 🙂 @ knycx.journeying

    • Fabulous to hear Knycx! France is an incredible place for a slow travel adventure – there’s so much of the country to see, and an AWESOME food scene – I dream about setting myself up in France again; to wake up in a Parisian apartment, and skip downstairs to the market to eat my bodyweight in French pastry!

  5. I’m the biggest fan of slow travel, I hate rushing.I think as I get older the more of a fan I am, i really like delving into the place I’m visiting and that’s harder to do on a short trip.

    • Awesome Aimee! I’ve found the same thing, that as I’ve gotten older rushing around has become less appealing to me. I really love immersing myself in a new destination these days 🙂

  6. Boring.

    I travel to soak in as much as possible. You can do that at a relaxed pace gobbling up a different culture. I don’t need to fly anywhere to convalesce and hibernate. I want the thrill of seeing as much as I can and I am a constant traveler, next week off to Europe for the third time in the last eight months. I’ll do my convalescing when I too old to book a trip and pay for a trip.

    And get a kitchen so I can cook meals inside instead of walk the streets and find a cute restaurant to sample the local cuisine… you got to be kidding.

    Clay
    On The Go In Los Angeles

    • Lol you’re welcome to disagree – everyone will have a different travel style and personality. Personally I’ve found slow travel to mean you get to really enjoy the experience as opposed to rushing it and being exhausted at the end. Taking time to soak in the atmosphere of a new destination, or stopping to chat to a local for an hour because you have the time to, doesn’t mean that you’re hibernating 😉

  7. I am so thrilled to see a post like this! As someone who travels to small towns, the experience is at a much slower pace, and therefore, much more enjoyable. I’m so up for this kind of traveling, as instead of ticking off a list of things on a bucket list you get to experience more meaningful moments.

    • Awesome Lara! Glad to hear that you’re enjoying the benefits of slow travel too! Happy travels 🙂

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