Let’s face it, due to work or finances, most of us don’t have the luxury of unlimited travel time. Some people work hard all year round to afford those well-earned two weeks off. They often tend to cramp in as much as possible and as a result come home exhausted… They have “seen” a place, ticked off the must see boxes, but have they really experienced what the city or country is all about…?
In comes slow travel! Slow travel is about experiences rather than sights. It’s about quality rather than quantity. It’s about the ordinary daily life abroad, the country’s food, habits, people, …It’s about immersing yourself and about making meaningful memories!
And you know the good news? You don’t always need a huge amount of time to slow travel! Here are a few simple tips on how to slow travel when your time is limited!
1/ Concentrate on one area
Read up on the destination before going, determine which area you like most and concentrate on that one! Forget about rushing around from one metro stop to another. Instead go to that little café for breakfast where the local business men queue up before heading to the office. Go to the market, taste the local fruit and vegetables and why not, get some cheese for an al-fresco picnic in that park nearby!
A few years ago I visited the Cinque Terre: five tiny picturesque Italian villages linked up by walking trails. Most people tend to visit for a day or two. I stayed one week to truly enjoy the nature, food and people of the region and still only managed to scratch the surface.
2/ Buy the local newspaper
Yes, as simple as that! Not only do you get to brush up on your language skills, it’s also a great way to find out what thrives in the city or country you’re in. You can learn a lot about the local culture that way!
In Tangier, Morocco, I learnt that the ticket controllers on public transport will have new uniforms. The old ones that had pockets in them apparently encouraged the controllers to accept bribes. A good little insight in the local customs 🙂
If you don’t speak the language, look out for the international version of the local newspapers like e.g. “The Bangkok Post”
3/ Be part of a festival or go to a local sports event
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in Spain for the famous Semana Santa celebrations. I was invited to join the local celebrations in a tiny mountain village in Andalucia. It is still one of my best memories!
In Rio de Janeiro, I had the chance to participate in an “ensaio”, a rehearsal from the main samba schools in the weeks coming up to Carnaval. I learnt a lot more about the Carioca culture there than I have going up Sugarloaf.
4/ Go local!
I’m not just talking about the local food here. Meet locals! It’s so easy nowadays! Initiatives like Airbnb, Couchsurfing, Meetup, … are all fantastic ways of bringing locals and visitors together. Locals are the ones who truly know a place, a lot better than your guidebook does! So ask them about their favourite restaurant or café, go to the pub with them or why not, spend a cosy evening chatting in front of a roaring fire with your hosting family.
5/ Be in the moment!
This is probably the most important one of all! In a world of social media, constant updating and FOMO, we tend to forget the most important thing: living in the moment! Forget about your camera or the next update for a while and simply be aware of the things around you! Notice that smell of freshly cut grass, take a moment to listen to the busker you just passed or simply sit down in a café with a cup of coffee and observe local daily life!
What kind of traveller are you? Do you like to rise bright and early to see the city’s attractions? Or do you tend to take it slow? What are your tips on how to slow travel?