For many, vacations are synonymous with jam-packed itineraries that can leave even the most level-headed, stressed and overwhelmed. There’s often a pressure to see everything, go everywhere, and make every second count. And while this mindset can surely lead to excitement and fulfillment on your vacation, there’s a popular new alternative taking the travel industry by storm: slow travel.
What Is Slow Travel?
Slow travel is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of packing a month’s worth of sightseeing in a week-long vacation, slow travelers embrace the calm and relaxing side of discovering new destinations and focus on living like a local. More than simply a style of traveling, slow travel is about shifting your mindset away from checking things off a bucket list and towards truly connecting with the local cultures and communities in the places you visit.
So what does this look like in practice? In many cases, this means opting to stay in one location for a longer period of time instead of visiting multiple destinations, one right after another. Taking your time in one location not only allows you to explore more of what that place has to offer, but it also gives you time to rest, relax, and recover from the typical stresses that traveling can induce.
At the end of the day, slow travel is all about ditching the FOMO and embracing the fact that every vacation destination is more than its most popular tourist attractions. By letting yourself be inspired by the communities around you, and by allowing yourself to mesh in with the natural energy of the unfamiliar destination, you will experience a wholly unique and enriching cultural trip with memories and human connections made that will last a lifetime.
The Benefits of Slow Travel
Planning a slow travel experience comes with a host of benefits. First and foremost, slow travel allows you to truly get to know a new place and live like a local. You spend your mornings perusing the local markets and having a picnic in the park. You wander through the streets with no goal but to enjoy the feeling of being someplace wholly new and unfamiliar. You extend your stay in a city that captures your heart instead of hurrying on to the next with the mere purpose of checking it off your travel bucket list.
This slower pace truly allows you to get into a natural and relaxing rhythm during your vacation, allowing you to unwind from the stresses of everyday life and experience a new version of yourself simultaneously.
Another benefit of slow travel is that it is often more affordable than a traditional vacation. Many hotels, hostels, and Airbnb’s offer discounted rates for longer stays, meaning if you stay in one destination for a longer period of time, you can save money compared to visiting a new city every few days. Furthermore, by ditching the most popular restaurants and traveling outside the touristy neighborhoods, you’ll find the true hidden gems of the location for a fraction of the price.
Slow travel also offers the perfect opportunity to self-reflect and introspect. When you don’t fill your vacation with attraction after attraction, you give yourself time to breathe and take in the present moment. This is the perfect time to challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone. Go to that local dive bar where nobody speaks fluent English. Go to that yoga class in the park and strike up conversations with people who grew up in the area. By taking the space to slow down on vacation, you have the opportunity to learn not only about the destination, but also about yourself. And that is truly what makes a vacation unforgettable.
Slow Travel on Cruises
The cruise industry can perfectly cater to the world’s growing number of slow travelers. While many traditional cruise itineraries geared towards family vacations offer packed itineraries with endless possibilities to stay on the go, they can also be the perfect vehicle for the traveler looking to slow down their schedule.
One of the amazing perks of cruise travel is the ease with which passengers can adapt their itineraries to their wants and desires. For those hoping to be constantly on the go, many entertainment and recreational options are available. And for the slow traveler, you get to spend your voyage sailing on a resort with all the luxurious amenities you could imagine.
For those wanting to relax, reading by the pool or getting a massage in the spa center is the perfect way to spend the day. For those wanting to connect with fellow travelers, mingling at cocktail hours and participating in group activities such as fitness classes or cooking lessons is the perfect opportunity to meet new people.
Cruises give travelers the chance to visit new destinations, all the while curating the type of vacation that is perfect for them. And for slow travelers, the possibilities for unwinding and relaxing instead of rushing around to every group excursion package are endless.
Ultimately, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all travel style. Each person can and should tailor their vacations to their own interests, desires, and needs. Many people love to spend their vacations hopping from activity to activity, and those experiences can be wholly invigorating and enriching. But opting for a slow travel experience has something unique to offer. These more mindful experiences can be the perfect opportunity to truly get to know a new destination down to its DNA. By taking the pressure to see everything out of the equation, slow travelers are left with the incredible ability to stop and smell the roses. And that experience is truly priceless.