What if I told you there’s a simple way to make your travels longer-lasting, save you money, waste less time planning annnnd create an unforgettable experience when you travel?
Well, let me introduce you to slow travel. (perhaps you’ll come to love it too!)
You know, before I got into the whole JOMO thing, there was a time when I’d flit around like a fly from destination to destination, ticking off, “top 10 spots”. And, if the truth be told: country collecting. There were many a beautiful visit here or there that ashamedly ended up as just another notch on my passport.
Something I’ve noticed algorithms and seven-second flash trends seems to endorse.
Have you thought about the reasons you travel? (like, really, really).
If it’s to get that epic shot for a perfectly-curated 4:3 grid or to collect some sort of weird Christopher Columbus look-at-me trophy,
then I hate to say it, but you’re missing out.
What is Slow Travel?
The world is speeding up. Look around, and you’ll see plenty has been geared towards a throwaway lifestyle. Is it me or is everything just too…
Coffee, entertainment, swipe right or left to hook up with a cutie, food, shopping and even top 10 bucket lists
Call me an old-fashioned type of girl (and it’s not to say some things are convenient), but with all that convenience, the joy is slowly being sucked out of these small pleasures.
But travel is best enjoyed slowly.
“So what is it exactly?” I hear you ask.
Slow travel involves spending longer in a particular place. It’s about discovering a destination’s true spirit, hearing locals’ first-hand accounts and looking beyond veneered tourist traps to find offbeat treasures and meaningful experiences (100% includes people-watching and saving money). After all, isn’t that what exploring a place is all about?
Benefits of Slow Travel
Before I get into sharing all the benefits of slow travel, you will need to make peace with the fact that you’re not going to see everything. Trust me, that’s the best part.
Budget-Friendly and Saving Money
Slow travel is much more budget-friendly and will deffo save you money. Just think about all the money you spend every time you move from place to place. There’s money for buses, trains, flights and sometimes admission. Even if you opt for cheaper accommodation options like Airbnb, remember there are fees and cleaning costs slapped on PER stay. But you will save money if you stay longer. (Plus, you can get discounted prices). Then there are short-term rental options that can reduce your costs even more. But, the best part: steer away from the throng of tourist attractions and go find your own jewels. They’re often cheaper, less time-consuming and far better (if not free). For example, The London Eye versus The Sky Garden or Greenwich Park/The Point for gorgeous vistas of London.
Exploring a Place More Fully
Think: playing tourist in your own country. But even when you visit another island or country. For instance, on my recent trip to Venice, we were only there for 48 hours. By staying in a residential area, we saw that there is more to Venice than just Gondola rides (which are still amazing). Instead, we enjoyed wholesome things like getting tips and having coffee with the locals, people-watching in Fondamenta Della Misericordia and discovering the rainbow island of Burano. When you choose slow travel, you get to explore a place intimately.
Slow Travel Makes Time for YOU (Self Care)
At times I struggle to relax. But that struggle always disappears when travelling slowly, for instance, on a coach or train ride. Maybe my struggle is more about relinquishing control in a fast-paced world but lets leave the psychoanalysis for another day. Joking aside, slowing down generally gives you time to just be (human). Where do you think terms like “shower thoughts” originated from? Ok, so slow travel isn’t showering, but the same philosophy applies. Slow. Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. But travelling mindfully gives you more time for you! Whether that’s quiet reflection, introspection, enjoying a great book, or listening to music. By the way, catching up on sleep works too. Oh, the amount of aha moments I have had on a train ride!
Immersing Yourself in Surroundings
Recently, on a day trip to Comino, I was asked whether I ever get bored. (Fair question, given the size of the island). Slow travel has highlighted that there’s always something new to see. What’s more, having all the time in the world to experience it. For instance, despite having a 9-5 (and other adulting commitments), being able to see Comino in all seasons. Then there’s sitting and enjoying sunsets from all different shades (and angles of Malta). What I especially love about slow travel is its inclusiveness. Where luxury travel excludes a huge demographic, (including locals)… slow travel makes a ton more accessible for all. For instance, you can enjoy fiery sunsets or get out in nature no matter where you come from or how many shekels you have in the bank).
Connection with Locals, Cuisine & Life
One of the best things about slow travel is interacting with locals. I’ve expressed the challenges of befriending locals in the short term. But when you hang around longer (or they warm up to you), you hear anecdotes, swap heart-warming stories and try local foods. Stick around, and locals will show you hidden gems and share exciting folklore about a particular place. You give yourself space and time to create memorable days over hearty meals and the clinking of wine glasses. Something you often miss out on when you’re flitting around.
Travelling Whilst you Work!
Don’t let those 4:3 grids fool you! You don’t have to quit your job to travel. Would you believe that some of my adventures occur before and after work? I’m lucky enough to work remotely, which does help. But, even if you don’t, you can still travel around a 9-5. What are weekends and days off for? And as I already pointed out, travelling slowly is a perfect way to practice self-care.
Going with the Flow
Finally, and my favourite reason: Slow travel helps you forget about some stiff itinerary and go with the flow. I’m a great believer that beauty exists everywhere. So you can’t go wrong wherever you wind up. Besides, certain things can’t be planned for, like space and time for momentary connections. Or those meaningful conversations that leave an indelible mark on your soul. Then there are those amble strolls that lead to new paths, where patches of wildflowers grow undisturbed. Everyday things are already planned out to a T: daily routines, work, chores etc. Maybe this is why slow travel is so liberating. You leave behind the adulting and tap into your childlike curiosity. Furthermore, this practice follows you into your everyday life and the next thing you know: you’re letting go and following the beat of your drum!
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