Slow Travel, what is it? Maybe you’ve heard of this term being used here and there, and maybe you’ve never heard of such a thing. The main meaning of slow travel is as the term says, to travel slow. It’s the joy of taking your time experiencing a city on a deeper level. A level in between tourist and local. One where you feel yourself become part of the city.
The time in my life where I have been able to experience such a feeling was when I taught abroad in Madrid, Spain. My world completely changed, and even though I was living in Europe where I had the luxury of traveling to different countries on the weekends, sometimes staying in Madrid was more than enough for me. And this was my thought process even when it was month 6 out of 9 of my stay (past the honeymoon stage).
Can you imagine…
The pure feeling of waking up in a city that is still foreign to you, but that you’ve spent more than 2 weeks at a time in; the way you walk even changes. Suddenly, you don’t need Google to tell you which streets and metros to take, you already know, and it shows.
It’s enough time to identify the shop with the best products and the shortcuts to get to your favorite coffee shop. The feeling of knowing that you are at one with the city. You’re no longer a tourist, but you’re not a local exactly. You’re slow traveling, you’re respecting “your” city. You make plans to learn more about it at a slower pace and engage in different community activities, and yet you still marvel at the beauty of the place you get to call home for a short yet longer stay.
This is slow travel. It’s authentic, immersive, and deep.
But where did this originate? And why is it being brought up by many travelers, especially with the rise of digital nomads?
First, let’s start with its origin
Sources online say that this movement started back in Piedmont, Italy. The reason was a protest against the first McDonalds opening in Rome, Italy in the 80’s. Through this action, the term slow food was coined, and it has now extended onto slow travel.
Today, this term of slow- has expanded into other areas of our lives as a behavior and lifestyle choice to counteract fast-paced productions that prioritize quantity over quality. Take fast fashion for instance, and now the increasing rise of thrifting and second-hand shops like Poshmark and ThredUp. The way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the slow movement reaching more and more people’s consciousness, which in my opinion is very needed. Aside from the lessening of environmental impact from traveling on planes less often when slow traveling, and consuming more and helping boost local economies, slow travel allows people many other benefits that are necessary to absorb when traveling.
Reasons why people are going the slow travel route:
- Feeling revived after a trip because slow travel allows for more “downtime” while still on vacation.
- Your brain actually catches up with what’s going on because you’re not constantly traveling around – you learn to be mindful of the food, places, and people you meet because you’re not in a rush.
- Slow travel allows for a more authentic experience for the traveler, while supporting the local economy. The more you stay and learn, the more you eat local, engage in local events, support more locals businesses, people that want to improve their city, and then some.
- The slower you travel, the less carbon footprint you leave if you flew and traveled constantly. The temptation to keep traveling will always be there, but it’s lessened when you have so much to already see where you’re currently at, and you give yourself that opportunity.
- Can you beat waking up at your leisure in a beautiful space, making yourself some coffee and sipping it while slowly looking around and reflecting on what you feel that very moment, vs. waking up early to get a laundry list full of spots to stop at because your time is limited? I’ll let you choose.
And though I know that slow travel in the way it’s presented and talked about isn’t always possible, especially for people that have to stay in one location because of their job. There is a rise of people trying to defy that and get others thinking outside of the box.
Enter: Digital nomads
A group of people that in a nutshell, have the time flexibility and ability to work from anywhere as long as they have a good wi-fi connection. Nowadays, with the increasing rise of technology and digitalization of everything, jobs are becoming easier to be completed online and therefore allow the employee to be fully remote. There’s a whole group of people out there saying “yes, you too can travel the world and make money to sustain yourself” as they go about and do it themselves.
I won’t go too much into detail on this here, but I will say that this is an increasing working trend that whether you choose to be remote and travel, or stay at home, location-independent jobs will continue to grow, along with the people taking the plunge and going freelance with their own services, or going full-on entrepreneur. This will help enable a lot of people to travel for extended amounts of time, rather than feeling restricted by a 2-week max vacation slot.
Slow travel has been a concept that has lived before we even heard of the term digital nomad, but I think it’s a term that will continue to grow as more people take on remote job opportunities, or use their skills to create their own location-independent businesses.
A journey, not a destination
Slow travel essentially is about taking a break, while you’re on break. You’re not rushing from place to place, trying to get the photos, the souvenirs, trotting the same couple of streets trying to find a monument or museum. It’s slowly exploring, savoring, and enjoying the city – at your own leisure ’cause you got time.
Now you may be thinking: Can anyone slow travel even on limited time?
Here’s the thing, I think you can in a modified version, slow travel during a week-long trip somewhere, let me explain. Will it be the same experience slow traveling for 1 month vs. 1 week? No, not really. But is it possible on a certain level, yes. You just have to adapt certain slow travel qualities to the time you have available to you, and of course, set the intention to actually want to do it 😜
Related: Setting The Travel Intention
If you’re interested in learning how to adapt certain slow travel qualities and be able to practice them in a week-long (for instance) trip you have coming up – make sure to download my Slow Travel in a Week Cheat Sheet. Here I lay down step by step tips and real-world examples of what to do to be able to go from feeling the fatigue on vacation of doing all the touristic spots, to feeling a refreshing sense of discovering the city and yourself through slower, and reflective activities. Click HERE for your FREE copy!
This is more of a modified version of slow travel, for sure, but as you can see, you can still try to adopt some of the “slow travel qualities” into a week of travel. It doesn’t have to be super hard, I think that starting off with a couple of immersive, local, authentic experiences and lessening the pressure on yourself to see everything is already a GREAT start. Even if just for a week. It’s a taste of what could be down the line if you pursue slow travel more.
Slow travel is about your connection to the city, and giving yourself that time to connect your mind to where you are, and truly feel that you’re there exploring. Not just visiting as a tourist. I hope this post gave you a bit of insight on how you too, yes you with a full-time job or inability to leave as often as you can, can begin to explore this flow and slow travel movement.
Let me know in the comments below what you think about slow travel! Reach out if you have any questions on this concept, or would like to learn more.
Have you heard of it? What’s your take on it? Have you experienced it? I’d love to know your insight on this topic and style of travel, it’s something I’m so interested in pursuing more of in the incoming years, so I will be sure to share more information on this the more I go.
A group to talk about this and more
I do want to share something exciting with you all, and that is that I will be launching a Facebook group to talk about things like slow travel, the personal development that occurs when we travel at a speed and intensity that cannot be matched at home, sharing our experiences with reverse culture shock, and so much more. It’s a space that I think will give us all the opportunity to share more about our thoughts on travel, in a perspective of the self, location, and movement. I will be letting you all know via Instagram when that will be launching, which will be soon, so follow me on there if you’re not already and would like to be part of this community!
To more travel moments like these,