The concept of slow travel is something new I recently came across in the midst of my travel research. I had never heard of slow travel–I’m willing to bet many people haven’t–and the term reeled me right in. I wanted to to learn more about it, and discovered idea was perfect for Postcard Press. Today, our lifestyles are so fast paced that our relaxation time seems to get spoiled by busier schedules and constant deadlines. We are always on the go, even when we travel. Trying to fit every little bit of culture into 24 hours, barely leaving time to eat, sleep, and take in the views, can still leave us wondering how much we might have missed out on while abroad.
Slow travel is challenging that on-the-go mindset and breaking what has become a bad habit of the steady rush everyone is always in. For me, if I’m not in a rush to do something–to always be completing a task–I feel like I’m being inefficient or unproductive.
Slow travel is the idea that travelers choose experiences over sights, and quality over quantity. Quite literally, it is slowing down and smelling the flowers, or taking as much time as you need to enjoy the sights, the views, or a meal.
Just like our mission here at Postcard Press, it is centered on the idea of a fully immersive and in-depth cultural experience.
So, here are a few tips on how to make your next travel experience, a slow travel experience.
Change your state of mind.
It is difficult to change your state of mind in a brand new place. It’s easy to want to follow the crowds and see as many things as possible, but that kind of mindset is the best way to rush and skip any meaningful connection you could have made with different places and peoples. Visiting a landmark or attraction should never simply be for the amusement and novelty of taking a quick photo in front of it and telling people that you’ve been there. It is the feeling you get when you see it, your interpretation of it, and so much more.
Connect with the people.
Do not rush past the locals, embarrassed that you may not know their language or may look like a tourist. Instead, try to interact with them, ask them to teach you a phrase or two, and find out their favorite spots or somewhere that you should visit that would be considered a hidden gem.
Don’t focus on the “must-see” attractions.
Of course, when visiting another place, see what you’ve traveled to see, but don’t be pulled to attractions that don’t interest you just because of the huge crowd. Take your time and wander around the neighborhoods–this is the best way to stumble upon some pretty great adventures that will enhance your experience without the need to run to the next stop on the “must-see” list.
Consider an extended holiday.
Slow travel is a fantastic trend to help us understand cultures in a more immersive way, but in order to have this fulfilling experience, it takes a little longer than a normal trip. Have you ever considered taking a longer trip just once a year, instead of shorter ones a few times a year? Planning for what you’d like to do and staying for 7 to 10 days instead of 3 to 5 can make a world of difference.
Pick only one place.
Taking a tour of a certain region is an amazing experience, but it can also be overwhelming after being exposed to a certain culture for only a day or two then being whisked off to another country with a completely different kind of culture. The purpose of the slow travel trend is to commit to one culture and fully relax into it, living in it moment by moment, instead of rushing through an itinerary.
Walk more, drive less.
Cars are convenient, sure, and they help travelers see more destinations in a smaller span of time. However, the habit of rushing must be broken, and (if possible) walking should be the primary mode of transportation on your next slow travel trip. Walking is the best way to explore, to quickly learn how to get around a city or neighborhood, and it is the most environmentally friendly way to travel!
Do less, and relax.
Travel at your own pace, and don’t worry about having to rush around. Take breaks when necessary, try a coffee shop that interests you, or sign up for an impromptu activity with locals, and then get back on track with your plans. Wander through markets, enjoy the local cuisine, and do some people watching. Couchsurfing and house sitting are more options to take your cultural immersion even deeper! If you ever feel yourself becoming stressed, step back, take a deep breath, and slow down. Anyway, that’s the point!
Have you ever heard of slow travel, or are you a slow travel aficionado? Let us know the difference between your travel experiences; we’d love to hear about it! And, don’t forget to pin!