The Art and Joy of Slow Travel

Travel can be stressful with itineraries, unexpected changes, or delays.  But what if you imagined yourself strolling through the historic center of a European city with all your senses open to the sights, smells, and sounds?  You have forgotten what day it was, even the time, as you explore your new surroundings.  This is the Art and Joy of Slow Travel - the beauty of experiencing a new culture through immersion.  How?  Well, you are staying in one place for a while, so you can REALLY get a feel for it.

Slow Travel Versus….Fast Travel

You could call it fast travel or just normal travel.  For example, getting a ticket to Europe and visiting six countries in 10 days.  And the truth is, there are many reasons you may travel a little bit faster, such as limited time off from your job or you want to pack as much in as you can while you are in the area.

That is understandable and has its benefits if that is what you are interested in.  It can be exhausting and, at times, very stressful, but you do experience many amazing things that way too.

Slow travel would be considered if you had those same ten days and got an Airbnb in Paris.  For ten days, you explored Paris and got to know the corner cafe with the best latte or the most amazing bakery.  You visited many museums, but at the same time, you were able just to stroll, sit on a park bench, and just be.

You get a feel for the French and see different aspects of the culture.  Your communication improves a little as you are in an immersed language class, as French is what surrounds you.  At some point, you feel like you know Paris better, and you are able to enjoy France in a different way.  Even though you are still a foreigner, it starts to feel familiar.  This is slow travel.

How to Go About Slow Travel

When planning your trip, the first thing to do is focus on just one area.  If you want to do two, that could work too!  Plan a stay in one city or town or area that you want to explore.  There will be enough to keep you busy; the fun is researching all the activities you can do there.

What to Do There

Research, research, research.  Go to local events.  Join a gym there.  Shop at the local markets.  Figure out the public transportation.  Try many different restaurants.  Cook with the local ingredients.  Hike in the mountains nearby.  Walk through the town at your pace.  Meet the locals.  Study the language.  Explore one neighborhood at a time.

Benefits of Slow Travel

There are so many advantages to slow travel, and it is becoming more common these days too.  Let’s look at a few.

Time for Yourself

In our daily life, we are so busy with our family and work that sometimes we don’t have time for ourselves.  When you do slow travel, you are on vacation while having time for yourself.  You don’t have a set schedule that you HAVE to do anything that day.  You can go to the cafe, enjoy your coffee, and take your time to go where you want for the day.  

Do you just want to read a book in the park while you watch the bustling city around you?  Or take a stroll to the local market where you can have lunch and talk with locals?  You can spend the day on the trail with a picnic lunch and take your time to enjoy the view.

Build Relationships

Meeting new people can be refreshing.  Keeping in touch can be invigorating.  The easiest way to have the mindset is to remember that we are all humans.  We all have a family, smile, work, and enjoy the simple things in life.

It is not always easy to meet and trust people; it takes time.  But to even think that it is a possibility, you have to put yourself in the position that it can happen.  Taking a class is a great way to have something in common with others.  You meet people there who share your interests, and there is something to talk about.  

When you meet people from other cultures, the world becomes a little bigger for you.  You can appreciate the differences and the similarities.

Language

Learning languages is not only how to communicate with others but also good for keeping your brain active!

The thought of studying a different language, no matter what your age is, can be daunting.  And the reality is that although you study and study, you may not have the confidence in yourself to speak it.

This is what a huge benefit of slow travel is.  You are able to get the confidence in yourself to try to focus on the language you are surrounded by.  Just by listening and learning phrases to get you going will increase your language development.

Language is more than words, though.  There is the cultural connotation that goes with it.  What are the gestures?  The volume?  The tone?  Does it sound like a song?  

Take, for example, greetings; they can vary from culture to culture, whether you give a handshake, a kiss, a few kisses, a hug, or a bow.  What is eye contact like?  How do people communicate?  

With time you will recognize and be able to decipher more about the language from where you are traveling and others also!

Cultural Understanding

To show respect, it is helpful to research the normal way of doing something and what can be seen as offensive.  Since you are not in your country, the locals want to feel their culture respected and also valued.  

A simple thing as taking off your shoes before you enter a house, or understanding the importance of traditions and the history of a mountain that is asked that you not climb, or not criticizing the way something is done that you would do it in another way.  Diving into a culture that is completely different from yours can be rewarding as it broadens your views and also piques your interest in learning more!

Connect with Nature

Slow travel can give you the luxury of embracing nature and taking the time to take it all in.  Spending time in a small village where birds are abundant, trees have variations of green, flowers come in all vibrant colors, and wildlife is everywhere around you.  

This way of connecting with nature can differ from how you are used to in your home country.  There are many types of trips to fulfill these dreams of amazing wildlife, such as bird-watching trips, surfing trips, hiking groups that take you to the top of a volcano, or walking expeditions in the Amazon.

Technology Detox

While we are able to keep in contact with loved ones and the world instantly, when you slow travel, you can also turn it off.  Your focus changes, and so can your mood.  The weight and intensity of world events can be still existing, but you can also take a break and turn off the notifications.  

You can emerge your focus into where you are and why you are there and take advantage of all that is offered.   Give yourself a sense of relief from all that is going on in the world.  It is hard to do this when you are at home as you are busy with all your responsibilities and when you have to be connected with technology.  Try it; it can be amazing!

Boost Your Creativity

Creativity can come when you take the time for yourself.  Getting rest and sleeping more can help you want to create.  We live in a world where we are consumed by everything, so it is hard to be creative. 

When you slow travel, it is just that you take it slowly so you can take advantage of where you are and let your inner self get refreshed. Sometimes our surroundings can provoke great ideas too.

Practice Self-Care

Slow travel is a great time to practice self-care!  Imagine doing yoga on a paddleboard in a lake.  Doing what you love and taking the time to do it, whether in a different setting or with a different aspect, can help you get more out of that activity.

Self-care is of utmost importance, but sometimes we don’t prioritize our time for it in our daily life.  To really take advantage of your travels, incorporating self-care on what you feel your mind, body, and emotions need is just what you should do!

Develop a New Skill

The type of travel you embark on can be by way of the skill you want to learn.  Have you thought about learning to make authentic Italian pasta?  Or how about improving your photography skills?  Or maybe learning to do embroidery like Ecuadorians do.

Whatever hobby you enjoy, you can find a place to become even better at it.

Slow Travel has its benefits

Overall, slow travel has many positive points that can enhance your travel and help you dive deeper into cultures that fascinate you.  In the end, however you travel, the result is a new perspective on what is important.  Building a deeper self-awareness and an awareness of other cultures expands your mind and your heart!

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