April 6, 2024
Today´s Paper

What is “slow travel” and why it could be the key to a stress-free vacation?

With the rush of everyday life, we don’t always have the opportunity to slow down and move at our own pace. Even on vacation, there is an urgency to visit, do and try as many things as possible in a new destination or several.

However, there is another way to travel the world that many experienced tourists recommend: “slow travel”. But what exactly is it and how to make the most of this type of travel?

“I’ve heard countless times that people are exhausted when they come back from their vacation and feel they ‘need a vacation from their vacation,’ and that’s because we often do too much in too little time,” travel blogger Esther Susag told Huffpost, “We want to see everything, do everything and not waste a minute. However, there is another way to get through these moments and travel experts explained.

“It’s about quality over quantity,” said Phil Dengler, co-founder of travel information website The Vacationer. “It’s also about immersing yourself in the local culture. Traditional vacations often involve seeing as many things as possible in a short amount of time. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it can feel very superficial. They can also be overwhelming and not the ideal relaxing vacation.”

What is slow travel?

What is

As the name implies, slow travel usually involves slowing down and savoring every moment, rather than rushing to cross things off the to-do list.

“Slow travel can mean different things to different travelers, but I define it as staying longer in a place and getting more into the local culture,” explained Paul Jacobs, general manager and vice president of Kayak North America. “It’s taking the time to make real connections with the locals, rather than cramming a full schedule of excursions. It’s staying in Kyoto at a Ryokan instead of going from city to city all over Asia.”

For Jacobs, slow travel “is becoming increasingly popular”. Along these lines, the expert pointed to data showing that the length of hotel stays has already increased by 10% in 2023 compared to last year. Even so, slow travel does not necessarily require long stays in one place.

What is

“To me, slow travel is not necessarily about the number of days you spend in one place,” said Sean Lau, travel blogger. “You can travel slowly with just a few days or a few months – it all depends on the level of connection you want to have with your destination, which is going to give you a deeper appreciation of the culture and a better understanding of the local environment.”

For travel expert and writer La Carmina, slow travel is a meditative form of travel that allows you to stop and smell the roses, literally. “It’s about being fully present in the moment and experiencing the sights, sounds and sensations around you without distractions, letting the experience unfold at its own pace and without expectations,” she said.

He added: “For me, slow travel doesn’t have a strict definition or certain mandatory elements, such as using slower modes of transportation or staying in a single city or country for a certain amount of time, but is more about the compassionate awareness one brings to being a visitor in a destination.”

Some advantages of slow travel

What is

“When you travel at a slower, unhurried pace, you naturally immerse yourself in the culture and place you are in and try to get to know them on a more personal level. You talk more with the locals and do more ‘off the beaten path’ activities. Also, when you start talking more with the locals, they usually want you to have the best experience and will show you some of their favorite places, which naturally leads to a more immersive and personal experience,” Susag said.

Getting to know the locals and their culture and lifestyle in a more intimate and authentic way will create rewarding experiences and memories that you can carry with you long after you return home. You may even establish deep bonds and friendships that will lead you to return in the future.

“If you want to truly unwind and relax without the stress of travel, slow travel may be for you,” remarked Mark Wolters, creator of the popular YouTube travel channel Wolters World. “You get to unpack less, take fewer planes, trains and automobiles and just relax at a destination.”

He also noted that slow travel is great for practicing languages, as there are more opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations with locals. “If you are traveling with children, slow travel is a great way to introduce them to international travel and get them to see the differences between cultures,” Wolters added. “When your kids play on the local playground with other kids, they see that there aren’t too many differences between them and the kids in this new country you’re visiting.”

What is

“There’s nothing like going back to the same restaurant a few times and having the waiters and owners start to see you as a friend instead of a tourist looking for a quick bite. Traveling slowly also gives the family a chance to spend time together doing touristy activities, but also to be together as a family instead of trying to get into as many museums as possible,” Wolters emphasized.

This way of traveling also has its practical advantages. “I love slow travel because of its environmental benefits,” Lau asserted. “By staying in one place for longer periods of time, there are fewer carbon emissions associated with transportation, such as flights and buses.”

In addition to less transit between destinations, slow travel also often involves fewer car trips within a destination due to fewer activities. Travelers may also feel less rushed to get from one place to another and take public transportation instead.

They may also choose to move away from the tourist center of the city and save money on lodging. “Traveling slowly is often more cost-effective than traditional travel, as you’re not doing as much. It’s also more relaxing, as you’re not always worried about where you’re going next on your itinerary,” Dengler said.

How to maximize the slow travel experience

What is

There is no one right way to do slow travel, but there are some useful factors to keep in mind if you’re looking to get the most out of the experience. “The to-do list should be very short or nonexistent,” Dengler said. “When you visit a place or destination, try to understand its significance, don’t just cross it off your list,” he continued.

For his part, Wolters advised, “Spread your sightseeing over a longer period of time. That way you can spend the morning in a café, then noon at a museum, then the afternoon and early evening in a park reading your favorite book, instead of seeing two museums in the morning and one in the afternoon and then a theater show in the evening with a guided tour at midnight.”

“In the age of telecommuting, it’s easier to travel slowly,” noted Jessica van Dop DeJesus, founder and editor of the travel and food blog The Dining Traveler. “For example, spend more than a week in a destination and take time to walk around lesser-known neighborhoods, frequent a coffee shop or restaurant several times, and attend a sporting or cultural event important to those who live there.”

Consider staying in an independent boutique hotel or vacation rental away from the typical tourist spots to get a sense of where the locals live. Also take advantage of the tranquility and relaxation that you won’t find in the typical crowded areas.

“One of my favorite ways to experience slow travel is to rent a beachside villa,” said La Carmina, recalling a recent trip to Tulum. “Instead of being in a busy, commercial resort, I enjoyed quiet days with only the sound of the ocean near my door. I had a fully equipped kitchen, so I could relax in my warm surroundings without feeling the pressure to go out or sightsee. Some days were spent lounging by the villa’s modern pool, or strolling on the nearby beach.”

What is

If you’re staying in a destination that lacks a solid public transportation infrastructure or are simply looking to explore a little further afield, renting a car can offer you the opportunity to get around at your own pace. “Slow down and enjoy the scenic views and don’t be afraid to take detours and go off the beaten path when traveling,” said David Woody, country development and travel expert at SIXT.

You can even plan a leisurely road trip as a form of slow travel. “Many travelers are now choosing to arrive at their destinations by car rather than plane as part of the slow travel movement, which gives them more flexibility to enjoy both the journey and the destination. We recommend mapping out the route and the sections you want to travel per day, but book only the first two or three nights of accommodations to maintain flexibility in case the route or schedule changes,” Woody concluded.


Get Tulum's Latest News Direct to Your Inbox

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *