Travel has become one of the Western world’s biggest hobbies over the past few years, yet with the climate crisis at the forefront of everyone’s minds and the idea of mindful travel becoming more and more popular, we want to look at why slow travel is different and what makes it a great way to explore the world.
What Is Slow Travel?
Slow travel is a concept that rejects traditional ideas of tourism – including budget airlines, multi-stop trips and box-ticking travel – in favour of a more mindful approach to seeing the world. Slow travel is more about immersing yourself fully into one destination than trying to tick off as many places and sights as you can in one go. This version of travel allows you to soak up the culture and atmosphere of a place, changing your mindset to appreciate this relaxed speed instead of concentrating on a fast-paced, action-packed adventure.
Many of us travel to unwind from the stresses of daily life and end up more exhausted after our holiday than we were before it. Slow travel offers an alternative that allows you to indulge in local culture while also making time for R&R. While your first slow travel experience may feel as though you haven’t ‘done enough’ or ‘seen enough’, you’ll hopefully have had some different interactions and experiences that allowed to you connect to a place on a deeper level.
Why Is Slow Travel A Good Idea?
Not only is slow travel generally better for the environment and usually kinder on the wallet, but it also ensures that you are choosing activities and destinations based on what your heart desires rather than what would look good on your Instagram feed. It is also more sustainable when it comes to supporting local communities and economies as you are spending your money where it will do the most good instead of paying out to global conglomerates and fast-food companies.
How Can I Embrace Slow Travel?
The way to really embrace slow travel is to focus on the shift of mindset that is needed. Each and every one of us is shaped by our surroundings and interactions and as such we have been taught to act in a certain way and believe certain things. It is up to us to question these things to decide whether we agree with the status quo or whether something else is right for us. While regular, fast-paced travel has become the norm for many of us here in the west, that doesn’t mean it is the only way to do things or is the way it always has to be.
Instead of comparing your slow travel trip to previous travel experiences, try to see this adventure in a new light; being present in the moment and enjoying it for what it is rather than what it’s not.
Think of slow travel as a chance to try more restaurants, meet more people, experience the culture on a deeper level and to live like a local. These are things that you would totally miss if you were only in a destination for a couple of days, so really, spending longer in one place is a real privilege.
Some Ideas For Slow Travel
Slow travel doesn’t have to mean visiting a destination for months at a time (although it would be amazing if you could!), but rather being mindful in whichever destination you explore. This could be travelling to somewhere in your home country to see how another county/state live or immersing yourself in a culture when you visit for one week by doing as locals do.
House-sitting is another great way to enjoy slow travel as you have the chance to live for free (sometimes even paid) in a new destination for an extended period of time, living like a local and having time to explore one place in depth. This may mean shopping at local farmers’ markets, sitting in coffee shops for hours at a time or taking classes like you would do back home.
You might want to take the mindset of slow travel and apply it to your transport choices too, perhaps choosing a walking holiday or cycling between destinations in order to witness beautiful landscapes en route as well as at your location of choice.
Other forms of slow travel include booking a one-way flight and letting your mood decide the rest. This is, of course, for people who have a flexible schedule, but it really allows you to mindfully choose activities that will suit you rather than going to tourist hotspots simply because you feel you should.
Why Retreats Are The Perfect Type Of Slow Travel
Retreats are arguably the perfect form of slow travel as they allow you to fully immerse yourself in the moment. These are usually a week or two-long, with activities and spare time spent in one destination. Whether you choose a yoga retreat, health and wellbeing retreat, mindfulness getaway or a spiritual retreat, you’ll find that the activities are designed to help you connect with your surroundings and slow down your way of life. These mindful movements and moments are a far-cry from our normal, hectic lives and ensure that you make the most of your trip.
Retreats also help you to discover new routines and rituals focused around soaking up the present moment, so you can take these ideas learnt from slow travel and apply them to your daily life.
What do you think of the art of slow travel? Have you tried it? Where would be your destination of choice for a mindful, slow travel retreat? Let us know in the comments below!