Since before I can remember I have been travelling. My first flight was when I was only two and we had a family trip with my grandparents to Greece. I have fond memories of looking at the photographs taken while we were there. Playing with stones on the beach, riding on a donkey up the steep whitewashed streets back to our villa, picking flowers from the fields in my super cool sunglasses. Looking back, this was my first experience of slow travel.
In the years to come we would have many more family vacations. My dad worked for an airline so we were lucky enough to have lots of free flights. We would spend most winters in Thailand over the school holidays. Phuket, Koh Samui, Phi Phi. Soaking up lazy days spent running around on the beaches, buying freshly cooked chickens off of market vendors walking up and down the sands. I can still remember how AMAZING that chicken tasted. Walking up the dirt road from our hotel, The Chaweng Buri Resort, to a tiny little restaurant selling the most amazing food. On our trip to Sri Lanka we got to explore the tea plantations up in the hills. Even joining in, helping ladies pick the leaves. These are the types of memories that stay with you. This is the concept behind slow travel.
I wasn’t always a slow traveller. It was instilled in me growing up but when I started travelling on my own I became a highly regimented, structured, planning freak. I had everything organised down to where we would eat each day. When I think back to my first trip to Rome I remember seeing all the sights, and eating everywhere I wanted to eat. But I also remember how tiring it was, doing 35,000 steps a day and up. Yes, I got every sight seen but every single one of them was rushed. I remember the stress of trying to cram everything into a weekend, worried that I would go home without seeing everything I wanted to.
These past couple years I have been re-immersing myself back into the world of slow travel. Of experience. Especially since the birth of Heidi as this is something that is so fond from my childhood which I want to pass on to her. And truth be told, slow travel very much suits travelling with children. Which let’s face it, is already stressful enough as it is without making it harder on ourselves!
What Is Slow Travel?
There is no exact definition of slow travel, but for me it is about fully immersing yourself in a place. The culture, the food, the language, the locals, the soul. It is about experience, not ticking off a list of places to see. To travel slowly you should reclaim your time and spend it wisely. Be open to the unexpected and don’t try to do too much. It isn’t about how many cities you can visit in one trip or how many sights you can see. It is about choosing a few that you think you will really enjoy and exploring them fully. Slow down, relax and absorb your destination. Whether it be for a weekend city break or a month in the south of France. Try local food, communicate with the locals, get involved in local traditions.
You don’t even have to travel abroad to enjoy slow travel. You can play tourist in your own back yard. Go somewhere new – a nature reserve you’ve never been to, a reservoir, a walk in a different location. Pack a picnic and make a day of it. Take in the scenery, find things you never knew was there. Every weekend I try and take one day to have a day out with the family. Even if it is just to explore some pretty villages not too far from home. We head up into the Peak District and wander around Castleton. Visit wonderful historic places like the enchanting Haddon Hall or even just wander round pretty gardens like those of Renishaw Hall. You never know what you might find.
You can have a weekend away in a city just a couple hours drive from home. There is an inordinate amount of things for you to experience and places to explore. Dedicate a couple days a month to it if you aren’t rich on time and you will see how relaxing and freeing slow travel can be. It will enrich your life.
Why Should You Incorporate Slow Travel Into Your Life?
There are so many positives to slow travel. Here are a few to give you food for thought and inspire you to try travel a little differently!
This has got to be one of the first things you will notice if you adopt slow travel into your life. If you are anything like me then you will have grown tired of coming back from a holiday more worn out than when you left. Planning out your days and having a schedule to keep to. Being left disheartened if you don’t get to fit in everything you were hoping to. It is draining! That isn’t what travel should be about. Slow travel removes the stress and leaves you open to experiences and making memories you probably wouldn’t have had on a regimented trip.
Travelling slowly allows you to reconnect with yourself, your family or whoever you are enjoying your travels with. You get to fully unwind and live in the moment. It is so hard to do that in every day life and to me that is what a holiday/weekend away/day out should be about. Finding those magical moments that build memories. Having fulfilling life experiences that you will always carry with you. Letting go of the plans and being open to the unexpected allows the opportunity for these moments to happen.
Boosts Local Economy
When you move slowly about a place you discover more. You will notice all the individual local places that are like no other. No high street chains, no multinational conglomerates. Just real people and real places. When you buy local you are helping to support that economy. The money goes back into economy, not half way across the world into some mega company. Tourism is one obvious boost to local economy. Just you being there is helping. But choosing to support local while you are there is another massive help to the people and the area. And you will always find the unexpected. Things you had never seen before, local customs, local foods. All wonderful memory making material!
One massive pro to slow travel is that you get to meet people. Whether that be the locals or fellow travellers. You get to make connections with people, share stories, bond over food and genuinely communicate. My grandparents always used to share their memories of places they had been and one thing that always stuck out to me was their happy memories with the locals. Being invited round to share a meal at their own home. I think that is absolutely beautiful and is undoubtedly a better memory than ticking off everywhere you wanted to see on your list.
So what do you think? Have I persuaded you to perhaps give slow travel a chance? Let me know your thoughts and opinions on the subject, I’d love to hear them!
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