Travel comes in many forms. The kind that’s concerned with doing as much as possible could be called “fast travel.” Its opposite, as you might have guessed, is slow travel – an approach that’s all about downsizing the to-do list and enjoying each activity.
Slow travel can mean enjoying the sunrise while swaying back and forth in a hammock, or it can mean renting a virtual office to get some remote work done before setting off on that three-month getaway.
Whatever your slow travel specifics may be, here are five practical tips for doing it well:
1. Consider volunteering
Volunteering in the place you’re traveling to is a great way to enjoy slow travel. Not only does it give you a deeper appreciation of and familiarity with local people, it can also be cost-effective. For example, websites like Workaway and HelpX allow travelers to volunteer for a few days or weeks at a time in exchange for free room and board. This not only helps you slow down during your travels but also allows you to pick up useful skills, contribute to something worthwhile, and have a more local experience of a destination.
2. Learn some basic “survival phrases”
Although language learning isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (or coffee, if you prefer), it can be immensely helpful to learn just a few phrases. Basic greetings, numbers, and food vocabulary can go a long way toward making your stay smoother. This will also allow you to move beyond the traditional tourist traps and into the local areas.
Most locals are happy to see visitors making an effort to learn their language, so they forgive the inevitable mistakes. Going to the veggie market, pointing to some piece of food, and asking “what’s that?” in the local language can be a fun way to spend an hour or two.
3. Eat where the locals eat
Although some tourist restaurants might offer delicious menu items, they are generally also overpriced. To extend your food dollar and feel that delightful surprise of finding a new restaurant, consider eating where the locals eat.
If you see a long line outside a restaurant, then that’s a good sign. If you come back the next day and see it again, even better. That kind of customer loyalty is sure to signal that the restaurant puts out great food – most likely dishes you’ve never tried. Let your inner gourmand shine, and find those local spots!
4. Take slower forms of transport
The old saying “the journey is more important than the destination” is a cliche for a reason – it’s true. When it comes to slow travel, the point isn’t to get to a place as quickly and efficiently as possible. For example, if you’re traveling in India, you can fly from east to west, but why not slow down and take a train? You’ll see a lot more of the landscape and meet many more people.
5. Focus on quality over quantity
When traveling, we often have the urge to dart around from dawn to dusk, fitting in as many activities as possible. However, this is anathema to slow travel, which goes by the mantra “less is more.” Whittle down the total amount of activities you want to do and focus on just the essentials.
When you’re taking part in something, remember to fully enjoy it rather than having your mind caught up in planning the next activity. The slow travel formula = quality of experience over quantity of activities.
Keep these five practical tips in mind, and your next slow travel adventure should be an enriching experience.