There is really no right way to travel, everyone has to find their own pace and style. However, slow travel is without a doubt one of the best ways to see and experience the world.
This means not trying to cram in a hundred different activities into a single weekend or constantly jumping from one city to the next.
Our world is large and there is plenty to see, but don’t treat it like a contest in trying to check off a list of countries just for the sake of it.
This might provide you with pretty photos and a few jealous friends, but chances are you won’t accumulate the same depth and personal growth that happens when you travel slow.
I understand that not all of us have the luxury of time that allow us to travel. Most of us only have two-weeks per year, a short break from university or just a long weekend. Slow travel though is really about how we choose to spend our time when traveling.
Focus on quality instead of quantity and truly savor all the moments during your travel time. Slow travel is my travel style and here are seven reasons why:
1. Slow travel is cheaper
Hiking up Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park
Transportation is more often than not, the biggest expense when travelling. Whether you choose to drive, take the train, bus or fly – it all adds up.
When booking your accommodation, look for places that offer discounts on longer stays. This could be a certain percentage taken off your bill or a “free night” promotion when you stay a specified number of nights with them.
A great option to save money is to book your accommodations through Airbnb. You can rent an apartment or vacation home for an affordable price, which is much cheaper than staying at a hotel. (Use this Airbnb link to save $40 CAD off your next stay).
Having access to a kitchen can also help save you money since you can prepare your meals there instead of having to eat out all the time.
Besides transportation, accommodation and food savings, slow travel also allows you to volunteer or find paid work. Volunteering in exchange for an accommodation or working to make enough money to fund your trip all have added benefits.
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2. Slow travel is more relaxing
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Most of us adopt a fast-paced lifestyle here in North America and may only get two weeks of allotted vacation time per year. Jumping around from one city to the next is not exactly the best way to relax when you’re on vacation. After all, your time off should be used to rest so you don’t end up needing a vacation from your vacation once you return home.
Don’t get me wrong, traveling itself can be exhausting, even when you spend time visiting just one place – but it’s important to find a balance. Whether you spend your time soaking up the sun on a beach or choose to relax at the local cafes along the streets in Paris, slowing down your daily pace is a great way to feel rejuvenated.
One week is a good length of time to spend traveling, but that doesn’t mean you should try to cram a trip across Europe during that time. Instead spend a week exploring Paris, or browsing the markets in Istanbul.
If possible, two weeks is better as you’ll be able to get a better feel of the city you’re visiting and experience the local culture. You may even pick up a few key travel phrases if you’re visiting a non-English place.
3. Slow travel takes you off the beaten path
Valley of Fire State Park
Chances are, if you only have a day or two to spend in New York City, you’ll feel conflicted when planning your itinerary since there are so many popular attractions to see. On one hand, you’ll want to check off the items on your NYC bucket list, while on the other hand, you’ll want to experience the city like a local and visit the less touristy spots.
Your NYC bucket list however, may end up reading like every other tourist in the city. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it won’t feel very original. No matter where we travel, we all have the desire to feel as though our trip was unique or special in some way.
However, that may seem impossible if you’re constantly surrounded by other tourists doing the exact same thing and that’s all you see in your photos.
So what’s the solution? Travel slower. This will allow you find a happy medium where you check off the items on your bucket and also experience off the beaten path.
Slow travel allows time to explore, get lost and wander without purpose or reason – to the point where that off the beaten path finally disappears.
4. Slow travel allows you to form a deeper connection to the place you’re visiting
Rainbow steps in Istanbul
I believe that most of us don’t just want to “see” countries or compete to collect the most stamps on our passport within a single calendar year. Instead, most of us want to form a connection with a country, understand its rhythms and know it on a level that is unique to them.
This is all accomplished through slow travel.
One reason why many people like to travel in the first place is because they want to learn. Learning takes time however, and goes beyond the local guidebook suggestions.
Don’t get caught up in trying to make traveling a contest, because it’s quite possible to visit a place and never really have been there at all.
Slow travel may mean that you have less stamps on your passport, but nothing can substitute for the enriching experiences you have when interacting with the local culture.
You gain more by spending a week in one city than trying to cram in a bunch of different places.
5. Slow travel is more eco-friendly
Deoksugung Palace in Seoul
Of course we all have to get to our destination somehow and we may not all have the luxury of time to bike or walk there, however slow travel is generally easier on the environment.
If you’re visiting multiple destinations on your trip, consider to the environmental cost of your mode of transportation from place to place. Flying is worse than a car; a car is worse than a train; a train is worse than a bus; and a bus is worse than a bicycle or walking.
This may not be your number one reason to travel slower, but I’m sure it feels good to know that you are minimizing your carbon footprint in the process.
6. Slow travel allows you to be spontaneous
The Opera House in Paris
You may have your itinerary organized and planned out as a tight schedule in order to cram in all those bucket list activities.
However, while I believe that it’s important to make the most of your time and help ensure that your trip runs along smoothly (which doesn’t always work the way we wish), these aren’t the stories that we’re eager to tell our friends and family about once we return home.
Instead, our top travel stories tend to be the ones when we acted spontaneous or the unexpected occurred (provided these were positive experiences). By traveling more slowly, you’ll have time to take a detour from your itinerary without sacrificing those bucket list attractions.
7. Slow travel allows you to live in the moment
Sunset in Clearwater Beach, Florida
Practicing being present and living in the moment is a skill that unfortunately many of us overlook. You may hear other travelers discussing how many countries or cities they have visited during a one or two-week span, but it’s hard to believe that any of these travelers fully absorbed their experiences in these cities if they were quickly dashing from place to place.
I remember when I was relaxing in the cafe at Maligne Lake, I got into a conversation with another tourist from Toronto. He was traveling for a week through the Canadian Rockies with his family and was spending only a day exploring Jasper National Park.
He couldn’t believe that I had spent an entire week just visiting Jasper. The funny thing is, I never once got bored or ran out of things to do during my week in Jasper, but he couldn’t believe how slow I was going (and I couldn’t believe how fast he was going).
Whenever we travel (or even in daily life), it’s important to practice living in the moment and experiencing it fully without distractions. Savor the present instead of worrying about the future, because life is happening now and you may miss a moment that you’ll never have again.7 undeniable benefits of slow travelClick To Tweet
Over to you — are you a fan of slow travel?
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