Experiences,  Travel

Discover Slow Travel – and how to do it yourself!

Slow travel is per definition a steadily rising approach to travel, that focuses on establishing a connection to the place you are visiting. This includes the food, the culture, the people, and the history. Especially since the Covid-Pandemic I have redefined my traveling style completely and have become a huge fan of the concept. Let me show you how to find a more meaningful trip yourself as well as clear up some common myths around Slow Travel.

The art of slow travel text, with 4 pictures of Santorini, wine, a turtle and a mountain view

But what is the goal of Slow Travel?

That question quickly comes to mind. To enjoy a meaningful journey that has an emotional and educational impact. The exact opposite of Slow Travel is Fast Travel! This means ticking hundreds of places off your bucket list with the mere goal of having “been there and done that”.

The original idea of Slow Travel stems from Italy and was first defined as part of the Slow Food movement. It was meant to reduce mobility and increase taking time in exploring the local history and culture.

In 2011, Robinson characterized slow travel as the opposite of mass tourism. The idea is to increase the quality of trips rather than the number of trips. Authenticity is one of the most important adjectives of Slow Travel. To fully define what it means and to have a guide on how to start it is important to look at some of the key characteristics of the Slow Travel movement!

The key characteristics of the Slow Travel movement

– Minimization of the distances traveled

– Maximization of time spent on a trip

– Relaxing the mind

– Eating at local, authentic restaurants

– Shopping at local markets

– Learning a new skill

– Minimization of technology

– Keeping it as authentic as possible

Benefits of Slow Travel

Knowing the goals of Slow Travel you might still ask yourself why the hell you should start doing that. The biggest motivation behind adopting a slow travel lifestyle is self-relaxation. It is also self-reflection, a craving for novelty, emotional stimulation as well as having an escape from your usual surroundings.

My biggest motivation initially was self-relaxation. Traveling during Covid was in a way more fulfilling than before. Simply because the masses of tourists were gone and it became possible to enjoy a new destination in a more quiet and fulfilling way.

Since the general population has picked up travel again and popular places became more crowded than ever. So, we decided that it was time for a change. We did not want to return from trips more stressed out than we were before. We organically immersed ourselves into the slow travel concept without even knowing the definition of the word.

Clearing up some common misconceptions

While diving deeper into the Slow Travel Community around Social Media I sadly encountered a lot of prejudice and common myths about what slow travel really is or rather really is not.

My opinion on all things in life, not just travel, is that people should do what makes them happy and define things in their way. There is no strict guideline out there on how to travel. The point is to have a meaningful experience and to enjoy your trip based on your preferences.

There is a certain myth I have heard over and over again concerning Slow Travel that I would like to offer my two cents on here. “You have to be a backpacker or sleep in hostels and go hiking to have the ultimate slow travel experience.” I strongly disagree.

If you wish to be comfortable you may choose to sleep wherever you want. You can make the trip in any way that feels comfortable to you. While sustainability is one of the main ideas behind slow travel, there is no need to force yourself into doing something that does not make you happy.

There are plenty of ways to travel Eco-friendly while maintaining a certain level of luxury. Picking eco-friendly and locally owned hotels is a great way to give back to the community. This also keeps the environment in mind at the same time.

Regarding air travel, you can choose to compensate for the C02 emissions on your plane ticket to travel more environmentally friendly. Your journey is not gonna be any less meaningful if you don’t share a hotel room with 15 strangers. Not saying that this might not be fun, but it is not a prerequisite).

4 pictures of the caribbean, with the text how to slow travel

How to start Slow Travel + inspiration for your next trip

Since the article has been quite vague on how to travel slowly so far I would like to offer a couple of nice suggestions on how to improve your next trip by experiencing the journey more mindfully:

  1. Try local wine and local drinks, visit the farms and places where it is produced and learn something about the production
  2. Make connections! if you have a hard time chatting up people on your own I strongly recommend booking experiences for small groups, like a guided hike, boat trip, or wine tasting. You will meet people from all over the world in no time
  3. Skip the line! Famous tourist attractions usually come with lines and in my opinion skipping them will only add to your experience. You can surely use the time more wisely, and no attraction is gonna be worth losing hours over
  4. Ditch your itinerary and don’t make lists! Do whatever feels good, don’t try to fit in as much as possible. Go out and explore, you will find beautiful things naturally.
  5. Take a cooking class and taste local delicacies
  6. Take a guided walk with a local, this is a great way to ask questions, get some idea about the history and get some recommendations for the hidden gems & restaurants that only locals know about

Slow Travel Destinations

Let’s also have a small look at how to find the best Slow Travel destinations in Europe and all over the world. There are a few criteria on how to find a great Slow Travel destination for yourself. You will mainly be looking out for places with less density. Crowded and touristic places can be counterproductive for your Slow Travel experience. I would choose villages and countryside over cities any day!

Especially countries with a warm climate and by the ocean tend to have people with a more relaxed attitude toward life. These countries make for great Slow Travel Destinations. Especially, because the people will be friendly and welcoming and will let you in.

Countries with an extremely high work ethic and very strict social standards are not ideal for a Slow Travel experience. You will find people slightly less distant and not as eager to start chatting with you.

Look for countries open and welcoming to visitors, but not overly touristic places. It is much easier getting to know the locals if they have a very open and inviting attitude towards visitors. In some extremely touristic places people can get fed up with visitors quickly.

Try finding safe places for your Slow Travel experience. Your mind will be much more at ease if you do not pick super dangerous countries. If you wanna learn more about how to find the perfect Slow Travel destinations, head over here. Learn all about how to find the best Slow Travel destinations here.

Bring the experience home

Last but not least I would like to remind you that the principles of Slow Travel can also be applied to Slow Living at home. No need to rush through your life. You can enjoy every day by being more mindful of your surroundings and making meaningful experiences out of anything!

With bringing something home, I do not refer to China-mass-produced souvenirs, however. Make sure to bring things locally produced and culturally meaningful instead of endless amounts of plastic figurines that no one has space for anyways.

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