What are your traveling goals? Do you enjoy marveling at the wonders of nature, or love connecting with people, savoring foreign dishes, or learning new cultures? If slow travel is your ideal way to lose yourself to new experiences, you might need some tips to make your trip memorable and significant.
Here are 14 essential tips for enjoying slow travel:
- Have the right mindset.
- Do your research.
- Know your priorities and preferences.
- Travel during the off-season.
- Connect with the locals.
- Be an early bird.
- Leave time for spontaneity.
- Take the slowest means of transport.
- You don’t have to see everything.
- Be open-minded.
- Leave your comfort zone.
- Have travel insurance.
- Minimize the use of gadgets.
- Be eco-friendly.
The rest of the article will discuss the tips mentioned above in detail. Read on to discover how you can turn your trip into one of the best things that life will offer.
1. Have the Right Mindset
You could have all the right reasons to plan a trip to your favorite destination, such as:
- A break from work, or everything.
- A soul-searching tour.
- An interest in discovering new places.
But, if you want to slow travel, having the right mindset will prevent you from doing it for the wrong reasons.
Slow traveling is more about connecting with people, learning about culture, and cuisines, and discovering the world in a new way. It’s not about chasing likes, shares, or clicks by posting epic pictures of your travels, nor is it about targeting top tourist destinations on perfectly-planned trip packages.
2. Do Your Research
Traveling to a foreign country can be intimidating, especially when you don’t know anything about your destination. There’s a lot that awaits you, and to be on the safe side, always do your homework beforehand.
You can find a lot of information about your destination in various places such as:
- The internet: There’s unlimited information on just about everything, including where you want to travel, online. Learn about the country’s people, their language, their food, and what they do, as well as the climate, tourist attractions, and some interesting activities to try out.
- Books: These are also rich sources of information. If you’re taking a long flight to your destination, reading a book about it would be a great idea. Apart from passing the time, it will prepare you for what to expect. Also, you can learn a few things that might be helpful, including greetings, how to say sorry, or request directions.
- Other travelers: Experience is a great teacher, and it’s good to learn from those who’ve been there. So, if there’s a friend, relative, or workmate who’s recently traveled to your destination, learning a thing or two from them would be ideal. You’ll learn what to expect and prepare yourself psychologically before you travel.
Doing prior research will also help you get good deals such as cheap flights, pocket-friendly accommodation facilities, and where to find local cuisine. Moreover, you might come across like-minded travelers or travel communities while doing your research, especially online.
3. Know Your Priorities and Preferences
Nothing beats uniqueness in slow traveling.
Your trip to a certain destination doesn’t have to be similar to how others have had it, and you don’t have to break your neck cramming places to go to, expensive hotels to book, or fancy shopping destinations.
Your topmost priority in a slow trip should be to enjoy yourself as you discover the world from a new perspective. When you’re planning your trip, have a clear mind on what you want to achieve at the end of it.
If you want to learn the local language, spend more time with the locals and not other tourists.
If your objective is to unwind, find peace, and relax, don’t add a mountain of places to go to. Alternatively, have a few on the list, keeping in mind that you need to slow down, recharge, and take in the new environment.
4. Travel During the Off-Season
Don’t take your trip during peak tourism season if you want to have the best of your travel destination. Apart from hiked prices on literally everything, you will not enjoy interacting with the locals as much as you’d want to.
Additionally, you’ll have a hard time pushing through crowds and putting up with the tourist frenzy.
Prior research will keep you updated on the best time to visit your destination. And, you’ll enjoy less crowded hotels, streets, and attraction sites. Moreover, you’ll have the best offers and save money.
5. Connect With the Locals
Meeting new people and learning from them is one of the vital aspects of slow travel. So, interacting with the locals will help you create fond memories, learn a lot about the place, and appreciate a different way of life.
You can do this by:
- Buying from the locals: Forget about high-end stores and malls and visit local shops, where you’ll find items that resonate with the community. Whether it’s a crafts shop, a grocery store, or a local market, you’ll have the perfect chance to learn the culture, as you also promote the local trade.
- Eating local food: You’ll not get the real feeling of local cuisine until you’ve eaten like the locals. Therefore, find out where they eat and what their favorite dishes are. You can get this information from your cab driver or ask around while walking on the streets.
- Attending local events: If you want to personalize your trip and make it more memorable, participate in local functions. You can find out what activities are at your destination, especially those related to your hobbies and interests. This will also help you connect with the community and make fond memories.
- Staying at local accommodation facilities: Although chain hotels provide the best value for money, they’re not ideal for a slow traveler. Staying at a local guesthouse, boarding house, family-run hotel, or Airbnb will make you feel like you’re part of the community. Also, it will be the best, and cheaper, option if you’re planning to stay for a couple of days or weeks.
6. Be an Early Bird
How about a breathtaking view of the mountainous landscape in the Isle of Skye, Scotland, at the crack of dawn? Waking up early will place you in a better position to enjoy beautiful sceneries, avoid crowds in megacities, and learn how the locals start their daily activities.
Sunrise is also the best time to take epic photos that always remind you of that trip.
Hence, if you’re staying at a city hotel, taking a walk when most of the dwellers are asleep will allow you to have a detailed view of the buildings’ architecture and capture them on camera. Also, it helps you get around easily to the places you’d wish to visit during that day.
7. Leave Time for Spontaneity
You don’t have to toss out your to-do list and let nature take its course. But, if you have a few must-see sites or must-do activities, always leave room for spontaneity.
During this time, wander around or get lost in neighboring villages’ back streets.
Taking more time to experience the things around you will help you make the most out of your trip. Sit on a bench in a park or along a street and observe people or the things around you. Or, picture walking through a local market square savoring the aroma of delicacies, fresh fruits, and vegetables as you listen to the people chit-chatting in their language.
8. Take the Slowest Means of Transport
Did you pack your pair of good sneakers? Well, that should be in your essentials if you’re planning to discover more on your trip. Some places may require you to take other means of transport, but walking is ideal in slow traveling.
You get to have a better feeling of the country’s landscape and its people when you walk or ride a bike.
Walking or cycling in the countryside can be quite a fulfilling experience. It’ll allow you to meet people on their farms, learn what kind of houses they live in, or other activities they engage in. You’ll also have a spectacular view of the natural resources in the area.
If you’re staying in a town, apart from the main streets, take time to explore how life is in the less trodden streets. You might find a couple of interesting things in those back streets, including small businesses, some roadside attractions, and the locals, who may be expert guides.
9. You Don’t Have To See Everything
Remember what we said about slow traveling?
It’s not about how many places you visit in a day, but the kind of connections you make. So, don’t hurry to move from one place to another. You don’t have to see everything at your destination.
Make your trip more meaningful by slowing down. You can record all your experiences in a travel journal, and you’ll be glad you did so a couple of years later. Also, take time to sketch what you observe, whether in the city or the countryside.
10. Be Open-Minded
You’ll come across different lifestyles, beliefs, and customs at your destination. Therefore, instead of demeaning or criticizing them, learn to embrace diversity.
Be curious about how other people see life or their opinions about different things.
You don’t have to convert to another religion or ditch your values, but accept that they’re different from yours. Learning to accept diversity will allow you to understand people better and appreciate their points of view.
11. Leave Your Comfort Zone
I know that it’s not easy to let go of what you’re used to and get accustomed to a new environment. Trying new dishes or learning a foreign language isn’t a walk in the park either. But that’s the essence of slow travel, including new experiences and connections.
So, don’t be afraid to try out the local delicacies or participate in an activity that you’ve never done before. But, that doesn’t mean throwing caution to the wind by risking your life. It’s all about appreciating a different kind of life and living it at that particular moment.
12. Have Travel Insurance
A lot can happen during your trip. You can fall ill, lose money, or other valuables. But, if you’d planned to stay at a certain place for a month, losing everything would mean cutting the trip short.
To save you from such inconveniences, you’ll want to have travel insurance. This will cover those times when you get injured or robbed during your trip. You will also have more time to enjoy new experiences, rather than worrying about what could go wrong.
13. Minimize the Use of Gadgets
Nothing beats the urge of staying connected to your loved ones back at home or updating the newest details of your travels on social media. But, take it slow. Being too attached to your phone or laptop will distract you from enjoying moments that matter.
You can choose to have a “gadget detox” by not using your gadgets at all during your trip. However, this may not always work, as you may sometimes need to make a phone call or search for something on the internet. Hence, a better option would be to only use them when necessary and spend more time enjoying your trip.
14. Be Eco-Friendly
Slow travel is more meaningful when it’s environmentally sustainable. When you take the slowest means of transport, spend more time in one place, or save money, you’re saving up the planet’s resources.
You don’t have to take the most expensive flight to your destination or make a reservation in a 5-star hotel.
Different slow travelers have their ways of saving more and reducing their carbon footprint. For instance, some prefer to sell their unused stuff and travel the world. Others take up volunteering opportunities in foreign countries and do menial jobs to sustain themselves.
If you’re planning to be more eco-friendly, choose ideal destinations where sustainability is a top priority. So, you might consider visiting a country like Singapore, which is renowned for its open-air eateries and renewable energy sources.
Alternatively, you can try a barge cruise in France or a train trip to Ella, Sri Lanka, to enjoy the enriching view of the mountains, forests, and plantations.