Slow Travel is all great in theory, but how can you Slow Travel with only a few days of vacation a year? If you read travel magazines, you’d think the only way to Slow Travel is to spend months at a time in expensive villas in the Italian Alps.
This notion that Slow equals long has been one of the major obstacles to the spread of Slow Travel. Fortunately, Slow Travel is possible even on a tight schedule. You won’t see as much as you would on a whirlwind tour, but you’ll experience a richer, more relaxing way to travel, even if all you have is a weekend getaway.
Here are some ways in which you can Slow your travels on a tight schedule.
1. Visit fewer places
Instead of rushing through your vacation, try and slow it down. Visit fewer places and stay there longer. Even better: visit a single place. When you realize you have time to wander or do nothing, you will relax a lot more. You’ll open yourself to possibilities instead of rushing to the next point on the itinerary.
2. Plan fewer activities
The natural tendency of travelers on a tight schedule is to cram their days as full as they can, so they can extract as much value as possible from their short vacations. It’s the travel equivalent of stacking your plate as high as you can when you visit the all-you-can-eat buffet.
Instead, stick to the activities that really matter to you. Make sure you leave some “free” time, where you can just wander around or rest. Less planning means opening yourself to more opportunities: allow chance to surprise and delight you. You’ll get a great deal more out of your holidays this way. Back to the all-you-can-eat buffet analogy: would you rather eat a light, delicious meal, or stuff yourself until you’re on the verge of throwing up?
3. Stay close to home
Transport is one of the main sources of exhaustion when you travel. Air travel, especially, means long commutes, airport queues, and jet lag. It can take days if not weeks to fully recover from air travel, and on a short trip, that’s obviously too long.
Instead, consider taking a holiday to a place near where you live. Even better, why not travel in your home town? Find a place to stay away from your home and habits, pack a bag, and go try out new things!
Slow Travel is about exploring places as a local, and establishing a deep connection with a place. When you travel within your own country, you have a head start on understanding the culture and the language. But this doesn’t mean it will be boring: you’ll still experience moments of wonder and discovery, because you’ll be in “vacation mode,” relaxed and open to opportunities.
4. Have a “Slow lunch break”
You think I’m joking? Try it and you’ll see. Step out of your work environment for your lunch break, and walk around as if you were a traveler. Open your eyes to wonder. Follow your nose and your instincts to a new lunch place. Smile to strangers. Ask for help and advice.
5. Visit with a purpose
This might sound counter-intuitive, but hear me out. If you have very little time to visit a place, go there with a specific purpose in mind. It might be an exhibition you want to catch, or perhaps you want to practice an outdoor activity. Just plan on doing this, no matter what it is, and the rest will follow naturally. Practicing an activity is a great way to feel an immediate connection to a place.
For instance, I’m a runner, and registering for a race is a great way to explore a new city. It forces me to do things that are not touristy, such as finding the race location, getting to it using local transport, and picking up my registration kit. The race itself is a unique, memorable activity that doesn’t take that much time, and it allows me to quickly feel grounded in a new place.