SLOW TRAVEL: 11 RELEVANT REASONS TO EMBRACE IT
On the road of life, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.
What is Slow Travel?
Stemming from the larger cultural Slow Movement, slow travel is exactly what it sounds like, slowing down your travels. It’s the radical notion that busier is not best. In our high-speed world rushing through your days has become the status quo. Due to our societal obsession with productivity and subsequent advances in technology, the pace of life seems to be ever-increasing.
When we travel we tend to cram in more sites, more temples, more restaurants, more cities, more tours, and anything we can to maximize our trips. But traveling is more than just checking destinations off a list or bouncing from tourist attraction to tourist attraction taking Instagram photos as proof you went.
Rather than trying to fit everything in by going faster, slow travel shows us that we can make more conscious and sustainable choices to spend our time more wisely in the communities we visit. Slow travel allows us to relax and reflect, to connect with and integrate our experiences, and to question mass tourism and mass consumption.
It’s not for everyone, but slow travel is a mindset. The idea that less is more and that quality is better than quantity. When we slow down and seek some depth, we’re more likely to do things at the right speed and find meaning in our travels and ultimately, in our lives. Read on for 11 relevant reasons to embrace the slow travel philosophy.
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As you race around there is little time to take things in, it all just blurs together…
1. You’ll enjoy it more because it’s not as stressful
Nothing makes a trip more exhausting and hard to enjoy than constantly rushing around. Isn’t that why you wanted to go somewhere in the first place? To not be in such a hurry? Rushing leads to returning home from your trip even more tired than before you left.
You’ll have more energy and last longer on the road if you take it easy. Anyone who has traveled non-stop from place to place moving every 2-3 days can tell you that it becomes exhausting and stressful. You’re far less likely to hit that wall or get ill if you travel mindfully.
2. It’s better for the environment
If you care about climate change, the warning signs are hard to ignore. We realize that being travel bloggers we’re hypocrites for pointing this out, but did you know even short-haul flights emit a huge amount of CO2? It’s unfortunately true. If you think in terms of emissions, the fewer flights you take the better.
Extending your stays, traveling by land, and taking your time will reduce your overall footprint. If you have the time you can ride a bike or walk to your destination. Instead of just flying over the country, taking the bus or train allows you to see more of the countryside.
Slow travel is greener and cleaner.
3. You can delve deeper into the culture and language
When you stay in places longer, you’ll get more of an opportunity to interact with local people in a meaningful way. You might get to know the owner of the guesthouse you’re staying in or that friendly guy at the local street food stall.
You’ll have a chance to learn more about the language because you’ll have the necessary time to practice it and immerse yourself. When you’re only visiting a place to see the main attractions you tend to only see the tourist traps. While there’s nothing wrong with visiting these sites, you’re disregarding a huge portion of what a country is actually like by solely sticking to the beaten path. If you choose to slow travel, you’ll be able to live like a local.
When you take a step back from the attractions and wander the backstreets or sit on a park bench and people watch, you have a better chance of experiencing the day to day existence.
4. It’s less expensive
The more you bounce around, the more things will cost. Plane tickets, bus and train fares, they all add up. You’re also less likely to benefit from weekly or monthly rates or deals offered by your accommodation. If you have even a shred of negotiating skills you should be able to talk the price down on any place you’re staying for more than a few days.
People ask us how we’re able to travel for so long, slow travel is the answer. You can travel for months on the same amount of money some people spend on a short vacation if you play your cards right. You’ll learn to make your money last longer. For example, the more time you have in a place, the more likely you are to find cheaper places to eat away from tourist areas.
When you’re not in a big hurry to see everything you can focus on what you’re actually interested in. You’ll end up saving money because you’re not paying entrance fees to see every attraction merely out of obligation.
5. You can experience what it’s like to live in a foreign country
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live in a foreign country? To experience everyday life as locals do? This isn’t possible if you’re short on time or always onto the next place, yet this is an invaluable lesson to learn. You’re not just a tourist anymore, you’re actively staying there for an extended period.
You will see how your society differs from the one you’re staying in, realize things you take for granted, the pros and cons, and most importantly what it’s like to be an outsider. Being the “other” is something everyone should undergo at least once in their life if only to learn how to empathize with others in a similar predicament.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was: go slow to go fast. We live as though there aren’t enough hours in the day, but if we do each thing calmly and carefully we will get it done quicker and with much less stress. -Viggo Mortenson
6. You’ll get to know people better and make connections
You’ll have time to hang out with the people you meet. They’ll get to know you and feel more comfortable sharing their stories. You might even make some life long friends or find your soulmate. More time means you’ll say goodbye a little less often, and that’s always a bonus (goodbyes are the worst).
One of my fondest travel memories was Couchsurfing with a Carioca in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival. Several other couchsurfers were staying there. We all ended up staying for ten days in that apartment together, cooking, going to block parties, and playing music together. It was something I’ll never forget!
7. It’s healthier and you can keep a sense of routine
It’s easier to exercise, still get important things done, or eat healthier when you have time to think. If you’re out the door early with a full schedule of sightseeing all week you’re often eating on the go and making unhealthy choices. If you’re only taking a short vacation or partying a lot that’s no big deal, but the longer you’re on the road this can really get to you.
With slow travel, you can take the time to walk to the market, cook your meals, and get more rest or sleep in late when you feel like it. It’s much less of a hassle to prioritize your mental and physical health.
8. You can revisit places
One of the best aspects of taking your time is that you can revisit the places you love. You don’t have to feel like visiting a place once is your only chance to see it.
If you like to take pictures and you’ve only got one day to shoot that wonder of the world you’ve come to visit and it rains all day, you’re shit out of luck. For instance, we were so impressed by the Registan in Uzbekistan that we went to see it three different times.
9. It’s more authentic and more respectful of local communities
Your money goes into the pockets of a wider range of people. Not just hotel chains, touristy restaurants, and greedy tour companies. Going slower allows you to find local businesses to support and you can think about what you can give back to the places you visit, not just what you can take.
Staying places for longer periods helps us to understand more from firsthand experience and helps deconstruct stereotypes, prejudices, and misinformation about the places we go and the people we encounter.
10. You’ll have more flexibility
If you like a place you can stay longer. If you don’t you can move on. That’s the beauty of it! You’re free to do as you wish. If you meet someone who suggests a new destination to you that you didn’t previously know about, you can change your plans on a whim and go there.
When we’re pressed for time we often stick to rigid itineraries and strict schedules. There’s no mystery involved or any chance for your journey to take those fun and unexpected turns.
11. Slow travel teaches you patience
There’s a lot of waiting involved when you travel. You either learn to deal with it or you’re miserable. You learn to overcome obstacles and not get so angry when things don’t go your way.
You’ll realize that if you’re always anticipating what’s next you’re never fully enjoying the present. You might also realize that you really can see most of the places you’ve always dreamed of. It’s just going to take some time. What’s the rush?
It is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting. – Carl Honoré on the Slow Movement
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The book: In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore
Do you tend to rush around when you travel? Have you tried slow travel? What did it teach you?