You know those holidays that leave you feeling like you need another holiday just to recover? You’ve jammed in as many locations and activities as possible to make the most of your time. Which means you’re getting up early and going to bed late each day. You spend all day on your feet or in the car/train getting from A to B. I’ve decided I’ve had enough of those holidays.
This hasn’t been an overnight decision. Without really thinking about it, I’ve slowly been winding down our travel plans. That isn’t to say I’ve been traveling less. In fact, I’ve never travelled so frequently in my whole life as I have over the past year. But I have been taking a more intentional and relaxed approach to those travels. I’m finally at a point where I’m ready to get official about it and label myself as a ‘slow traveller’. Which means I’d like to share what slow travel means to me and why I think you might just enjoy it too.
What is Slow Travel?
The beauty of slow travel is that it will mean something slightly different to everyone. You can interpret the term in a way that makes your travel more relaxed enjoyable. To me slow travel is a mindset. It’s the approach you take to planning and going about your travels. That mindset encompasses the following:
Taking your Time
Both planning and experiencing travel can quite easily become very stressful. Rather than fitting in as many locations and activities as possible in to your itinerary, give yourself time to enjoy what you do see. Make it less about ticking another city/country off your list and more about immersing yourself in the culture of a place. Stop speed dating locations and start romancing them. It’s about quality not quantity.
Give yourself at least one extra day with no plans and just do whatever you feel like doing on the day. Maybe you’ll feel like sleeping in, having a relaxed breakfast while you people watch and getting lost in little laneways. Or maybe since arriving you’ve spotted a suburb you really want to explore more, found a day-trip you’d love to do, or learnt about a show you want to see.
Take your time to get from A to B. Instead of flying you could road trip. Rather than driving you could hire bicycles to get around city. Walk instead of catching that Uber. Who knows what hidden gems you might discover simply by going slower. Take your time to immerse yourself in the culture of a place. Learn the basics of a new language and challenge yourself to use it when you order a meal. Take a private tour with a local guide, stay with locals through Airbnb or a homestay or do a cooking class. There are so many little ways you can slow down and have a more authentic experience.
As well as slowing down your planning, the slow travel mindset is also about being more adaptable and flexible while you are traveling. Sometimes you get lost, some days it rains and occasionally you accidently pay $100 for a 10 minute tuk-tuk ride (yep that happened). That is just the nature of travel. Yes, it’s a bummer when your suitcase doesn’t show up on the carousel, but don’t let it ruin your time. You needed a few wardrobe updates anyway right? If you can accept that little mishaps like this are all part of the adventure of travel before you go, then it’s much easier to deal with when something doesn’t go to plan. And they usually make great stories later too!
There are lots of decisions to make when you plan your travel. Your mode of transport, accommodation you stay in, places you eat at, the list goes on. Do you want to go by plane, boat, train, car, bicycle or foot? Will you stay at a big fancy hotel, a boutique hotel, a small B&B or with a homestay family. Do you want to be able to make your own meals and save some money or perhaps make sure you support small local businesses when you eat out? Being intentional is simply about giving each decision some thought and understanding what you want to gain from you travel. There is no right or wrong.
How many times have you made lists of sights to see just because that is what everyone else seems to be doing? I know I’m guilty of this one. Think about the things you are actually interested in. Don’t just go for the photos. Pick places that you’d go to even if you couldn’t take a photo. Then once you have your photo put your camera down and soak up your surroundings without a screen barrier in-between you and where you are. Think of your to-do list in terms of the experience you will gain rather than the sight you will see.
Another thing I think we can all get more intentional about is our packing. There is nothing worse than lugging a huge, heavy suitcase (or two) across cities, countries and seas. And then keeping that suitcase tidy… not a chance. Take some time to plan what you really need to take with you. Stick to one suitcase. If your trip is one week or less make it a carry-on sized suitcase, for longer trips something a bit bigger.
Think about the range of temperatures and weather you will experience, how many days you will need between doing washing and any special equipment or clothing you might need. Then pick all your pieces carefully, ensuring that each item can be worn with at least five other things. You want to be able to make as many outfits as possible – since starting my capsule wardrobe I’ve found packing much less stressful. Having less suitcase space also makes you think a bit harder about buying things. When you know you have limited space you will make sure you absolutely love something before buying it. Need some packing inspiration? You can check out my travel wardrobes and tips over here.
Why You’ll never look back
By taking your time to plan and go about your travels, embracing the unpredictability of the adventure and being intentional about each decision you make you will create meaningful and enjoyable experiences and memories. You will return home feeling rejuvenated rather than exhausted, and with far less washing to do too! Who could say no to less stress and more joy?
Have you ever tried slow travel? Or would you love to give it a go? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.
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Carry-on Only Wardrobe: Monochrome & Blush / Intentional Living: Learning to let go, Trust + Live Slow