Slow travel, also known as deep travel or immersive travel allows you to experience more by slowing down.
The popularity of slow travel has taken off in recent years with people wanting more authentic travel experiences while taking local communities and the environment into account.
Slow travel is an incredible way to see the world! It might sound counterintuitive to see more by slowing down but that is one of the most beautiful things about travelling slow.
In this post, you are going to learn what slow travel is, why you should do it and tips on the best ways to travel slow.
What is Slow Travel?
Slow travel is all about exploring one place in-depth as opposed to skimming the surface of many places in a hurry. Most travellers are guilty of going on whirlwind trips to countries or even whole continents, ticking off the main landmarks and famous tourist attraction.
Slow travel counters that way of travelling by exploring just one place or region for an extended period of time. At first, this might sound crazy, won’t you be missing out on so much?
The reality is quite the opposite. It is about fully immersing yourself in the food, culture, language and soul of your chosen destination. Travelling slowly is about reclaiming your precious travel time and spending it wisely and with intention.
It is about being fluid, flexible and open to the unexpected. Slow travellers don’t bother making many plans, they learn to go with the flow and take what comes.
It’s Not a Race
Slow travel is not about how many cities you can visit in Europe, or how many hikes you can do in New Zealand. It is about choosing a select few places you feel called to visiting and exploring them fully. And you can’t really go wrong because any place you choose to visit will have so much more beneath the surface for you to discover.
Slow right down, relax and absorb everything about your destination. Really get to know the local people and connect with other travellers on a much deeper level.
It doesn’t matter if you have a weekend off for a city break or for a year through South America you can do it slowly, mindfully and with intention.
You will see, experience and learn so much more about your destination. You will most likely fall in love hard with the places you visit and have cherished memories and relationships that will last a lifetime.
These kinds of experiences simply aren’t possible when you are on a fastpaced tour, visiting each place for just days at a time.
Why You Should Become A Slow Traveller
There are so many reasons to start travelling slow, there aren’t really any reasons not to!
When you spend more time in one place you will dive deeper and discover the hidden gems. You will have the freedom to aimlessly explore, wander and get lost. Beautiful places and people will be uncovered that can’t be found on Trip Advisor or in a guide book.
You will get to experience the place through the eyes of someone who lives there, giving you broader and more rewarding travel experiences. Locals will get to know you, befriend you and you will become a part of their community. Experiencing a foreign place in this way couldn’t be more rewarding.
It’s More Authentic
Slow travel gives you the opportunity to see the more authentic side of the destination you are visiting. Places that are touristy are usually not very authentic, they are all about creating and selling an experience to the tourists.
But when you slow down you go way beyond what is touristy. You will probably find yourself repelled by 'tourist attractions'! Plus once the locals have seen you around for a while, they will no longer see you as a tourist and will start to show you the real side of their home.
The curtains will be lifted and you will get to see a place for what it really is.
Create Better Connections and Make True Friends
By staying in one place for longer you will build a much deeper connection to the place you are visiting and the people that you meet. Whether that is fellow travellers on a similar journey to you, the locals you meet out and about or the people who work at your hostel.
By travelling slowly you can nurture and develop deep connections with the people and places around you. This will make your journey so much more rewarding, fulfilling and memorable. Your heart will simply be bursting with love for the destination that you have visited.
These sweet memories will be carried with you for a lifetime and give you the opportunity to experience a blissful reunion when you one day return.
Slow Travel is More Meaningful
When you travel slowly the connections you create will make your trip more meaningful. Most people will tell you when it comes to travel it is the people they met that makes the trip not how big the waterfall was. It’s about who you went to the waterfall with!
When you travel slowly everything has more meaning.
When you combine this with an intention to truly experience a place, to travel gently and to explore with an open mind and an open heart your trip will hold so much more meaning.
Have More Freedom in Your Day
By not rushing around to tick off sights you will have so much more time in your day to actually relax, take a break and just go with the flow.
Often times when we go on holiday this is exactly what we need, a break from the busyness and scheduling we are subject to in everyday life.
So instead of going back home more exhausted, go home feeling relaxed, refreshed and with some great memories.
Learn A New Language
By travelling slow and immersing yourself fully in a place it will be much easier to learn the language spoken there. It is so much easier to learn a language when you get to interact with native speakers of that language on a daily basis.
By staying in one place for an extended period of time you can really hone your language speaking skills. You may even find the time to have proper lessons!
Support the Local Economy
By turning your back on big hotel chains and tour providers you can choose to support local businesses in the place you are visiting. Put your money directly in the pockets of guesthouse owners, local guides, drivers and restaurant and shop owners.
This will help you to travel more consciously, sustainably and help you to make a positive difference when you travel. You are also helping to create sustainable tourism options for travellers that will come after you.
Travelling slowly is often cheaper. You won’t have huge transport costs and businesses run by locals are usually more pocket friendly.
Plus if you are staying at just one place for longer you can usually get access to better rates and maybe even a kitchen to cook some meals at home.
When you deal directly with local businesses you cut out all the middlemen and agencies that clip the ticket on all your travel-related expenses, making it cheaper for you!
Slow Travel Is Better For the Environment
The nature of slow travel is inherently better for the environment. By not taking multiple buses, trains, taxis and planes to hop around you really cut down your negative impact on the environment. Slow travellers tend to consume less of the local resources.
By travelling off the beaten path and staying away from places overridden with tourists you will be helping to reduce the damage done to natural environments and historical sites, which all get damaged by over-tourism.
By travelling slowly you tend to become more mindful and conscious of the impact your travel has on your destination. This means you are more likely to make better decisions for the environment.
So what is the best way to travel slow?
Here are some tips to on the best ways to implement travelling slow into your next trip:
- Stay at the same place.
- Stay with locals and avoid hotels.
- Don’t make an itinerary. Leave gaps in your plans and be flexible.
- Avoid places that are touristy. Go off-the-beaten-track.
- Travel by land or sea, not air. If you can walk or cycle, even better!
- Embrace doing nothing. Let yourself chill!
- Learn to unplug from social media. Immerse yourself in the moment.
- Ask locals for recommendations and advice. Befriend them!
- If you want to travel slow for extended periods of time look at quitting your job and finding ways to earn money while travelling or online.
Examples of Slow Travel Experiences
There are so many ways you can incorporate slow travel into your next trip. It could be as simple as just staying in a guesthouse in a small town in Italy for a week. Or you could get more creative. Here are some ideas:
- Take an extended road trip in a campervan. This works great in Australia, New Zealand the US and Europe.
- Go on a cycling tour.
- Sign up for an immersive learning experience such as a language school or a yoga teacher training course.
- Volunteer for local organisations like teaching English to children.
- Stay with locals as a cultural homestay. Learn what it is actually like to live as a local!
At first, slow travel may sound boring. But this is anything but true!
By slowing down you will be free from distractions and get to know the places you visit so well. You will refresh your body, mind and spirit and learn a whole lot about yourself in the process.
You will make enriching and transformative connections with the towns, cities and villages, the land, the people and ultimately yourself.