May 19, 2023 5 min read
Feel like life is always moving at a breakneck pace? It’s time to slow down! So next time you go on vacation, how about you actually let it feel like a vacation? That means no hectic schedules and no get-me-there-ASAP travel itineraries. Trust us: Once you adopt the art of slow travel, you’ll never go back to the regular tourist experience.
Slow travel is a new approach to traveling that’s all about slowing down your journey to get a richer, more authentic, and more meaningful experience. Above all, slow travel encourages you to take a break from the hectic rush and pressures of tourism and consumerism so you can make deeper connections with new cultures and people.
When you have an action-packed itinerary, it’s hard to truly see a new city for what it is. Instead, you’re trapped in a tourist mindset, flitting from one famous attraction to the next. Slow travel, on the other hand, gives you the time to really dive into the local culture. While most travelers just stay in a hotel for a weekend and barely venture out of the city center before catching their return flight, slow travelers have more time to explore the ins and outs of a new city, like charming back streets, hidden coffee shops, and smaller parks that put them more in touch with the local culture.
Even when you’re on vacation, there’s a certain beauty in establishing a little routine, like becoming a regular at a new coffee shop or getting on a first-name basis with the bartender at the local pub. But making these connections takes time—it takes learning how to slow travel. If you just visit a capital city for a weekend, it’s going to be much harder to make new friends. You simply won’t have the time to meet and mingle! Slow travel gives you the chance to settle in, see familiar faces, and get to know both locals and fellow travelers—who just might end up becoming new lifelong friends.
Even the best vacations can end up being a little stressful. After all, things are bound to get chaotic when you have to board a plane, navigate a new city, and settle into a new hotel every few days. Not only does slow travel give you the chance to get to know new countries and new people in a more meaningful way, but it also takes a lot of the stress out of travel! Think about it: If you stay in one place for a while, you have the time to get more comfortable. You don’t have to try to pack in a week’s worth of sightseeing in one weekend. And you don’t have to constantly think about checking into your next flight and getting ready to pack your bags yet again. Instead, all you have to focus on is getting some good, old R&R!
Travel is great for the mind, body, and soul … Unfortunately, it’s not always so great for the environment. According to The World Counts, 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from tourism. (No shocker here: The biggest culprit is transportation.) However, slow travel can go a long way in helping you travel more sustainably. By simply staying put longer and reducing the number of flights you board, you can reduce your carbon emissions. Besides cutting back on how frequently you move around, also consider changing your mode of transport. For example, try swapping out flights for train rides when you can and opt to walk, bike, or use public transport instead of a car whenever possible.
Need some more incentive to slow down when you’re on the road? Slow travel also helps you save money! Truly, there are so many ways settling down in a new city for a few weeks will lighten your travel budget. For example, AirBnB offers discounted rates when you book a longer stay. You’ll save money going to the local grocery store and eating in rather than heading to a restaurant for every meal. (Ditto for filling up your reusable water bottle instead of constantly buying new plastic bottles at the airport.) And by changing your destination less often, you won’t spend as much money on train and plane tickets. It’s a win-win!
We’ve got nothing against a gal who loves to plan. But a jam-packed travel schedule just doesn’t give you as much room for spontaneity as slow travel does. After all, if you’re only in a new city for a weekend, you’ll likely have to plan every activity down to the minute to make sure you can get it all in before it’s time to catch your return flight. Slow travel, in comparison, gives you the ultimate travel luxury: time. Time to get lost in charming side streets with your camera. Time to do nothing but sit and watch the sunset. Time to say “yes” to that serendipitous dinner invitation and enjoy a bottle of wine and a long conversation with a stranger. In other words, time to experience a little bit of thatEat Pray Love.
Even if you travel to the other side of the world, the modern conveniences of hotels, taxis, and travel agencies make it easy to always feel safe, secure, and taken care of. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing! But if you want to push yourself outside of your travel comfort zone, then slow travel is the way to go. When you ditch the cushy hotels and start to slow travel, you’ll likely be faced with a few challenges, like having to communicate in a new language and adapt to different cultural customs. It’s harder to seek out these experiences when you’re only in a new city for a day or two. And while it may be more comfortable to avoid them, the rewards of stepping outside your comfort zone almost always outweigh the risks.
Let’s get one thing straight: Slow travel may give you the illusion of living like a local, but prying pickpocket eyes may still see you as a stereotypical tourist ripe for the picking. To keep your belongings secure and away from would-be thieves, no slow travel packing list is complete with a couple of anti-theft essentials.
For example, are you worried about carrying all of your travel essentials while ensuring they’re safe as you take in the sights? The Metrosafe X Anti-Theft 25L Backpack is big enough to hold your camera, water bottle, and even your laptop, yet sleek enough to make you feel like a city insider. Plus, it’s tricked out with cut-resistant materials, lockable zips, and an internal attachment point for your wallet and keys.
Of course, a backpack isn’t exactly the ideal accessory for a night out on the town. For something a little more sleeker but just as secure, try the Pacsafe® Go Anti-Theft Sling Pack. Compact, versatile, and stylish with any outfit, this anti-theft sling gives you peace of mind when you slow travel with a host of anti-theft tech like a RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket and a robust eXomesh® slashguard.
Meredith Shubel is a freelance writer and blogger. In 2020, she quit her 9-to-5 desk job in public relations … and has never looked back. With 17+ countries visited under her belt and an ever-growing travel bucket list, Meredith is now part of theSiteSee community, where she gives fellow travel junkies the inside scoop on the best tips for satisfying your wanderlust. Talk to her on Twitter@merryshoebell.
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