What the heck is Slow Travel?
Have you ever been on a coach tour, where you have a new destination and hotel every night? Or backpacked from hostel to hostel, never staying long enough in one place to even unpack let alone do laundry? Forever on the move and bouncing from destination to destination is exhausting and eventually overwhelming.
Slow travel is the antithesis of that kind of travel, imagine instead, having the luxury to explore in depth, to really get an insight into a people and culture. Instead of merely scratching the surface, you get to see through the cultural differences and develop an understanding of different views and customs.
Having done both backpacking and coach tours, we now choose slow travel every time.
The lure of slow travel is the opportunity to connect to a place and its people, to get an in-depth experience of its true culture, not the façade presented to the typical tourist.
Why Slow Travel?
- Lower cost–renting an apartment or suite, for two weeks or a month costs less than a hotel or even a hostel room.
- Save money by cooking for yourself—not only is cooking for yourself cheaper but it is usually a lot healthier too
- A base from which to explore— instead of lugging baggage around while visiting that must see on your way to??? leave the bag at home and enjoy day trips instead
- Privacy and space— having an apartment or even a small house gives you a lot more space and privacy not only from others but yourselves too (even couples often want some time to themselves)
- Lasting Memories –often our fondest memories are not of the nearby tourist attractions but the little church or bistro near our apartment.
- Sustainability— as we use less public transport it is a more sustainable way to travel and because we are shopping locally, we support local businesses.
- Cultural understanding –living, shopping and exploring in the same area over a few weeks gives an insight into the community and culture available no other way
- Relaxing—instead of returning home in need of a vacation it is a much easier way to travel, especially when travelling for extended periods
How to Slow Travel?
Even if you don’t have months to spare you can still enjoy slow travel, renting a small cottage in Ireland with stunning ocean views, could be more fun than a nonstop tour of London and a lot more relaxing.
Decide on an area or country that is of interest to you and set your timeline, whether two weeks or two months and prepare to experience a new way of travel.
Alternatively use Tripadvisor to research accommodation and book direct, or find something once you have arrived as we do. This of course works well when you are not on a tight schedule.
Once you arrive, unpack your bag, stock your own larder, explore at leisure and sample how other people live. Your schedule is your own for you to spend as you wish. Visit tourist attractions because you want to, not because you have to.
Things to do
· Shop at the local farmers market
· Discover what the local supermarket stocks
· Ask a local the best places to eat
· Take a cooking class and then create the dishes yourselves
· Go exploring without a map, you never know what you will find
· Learn a few phrases of a new language or take a class
· Smile at everyone you meet, it will not take long before they smile back
· Find out where the expats hang out and introduce yourself (great way to get a low down on long-term living costs in the area)
· Accept any invitations to social events that come your way
· Attend local festivals, even the smallest villages usually have at least one big festival per year
· Take the time to sit and watch the world go by from your favorite café
· Read those books that you have been meaning to get around to