10 Tips for 'Slow Travel' Beginners

by - July 11, 2018

If you’ve never heard of slow travel before, then, fair warning: this might change the way you travel from now on! Do you know how sometimes, after you get back from a break away, you’re more tired than before you left? It’s no mystery, it’s just that you’ve tried to cram so much into your trip, that you’ve had no time to relax. And if you did have time to relax, you were always thinking that I should get up and do some sightseeing. Slow travel changes all that. Instead of moving all the time, you do things slowwwwwllllly, and focus on just doing things that are good for the spirit and soul. It recaptures the true essence of travelling, essentially. Below, we take a look at twelve tips for getting the most out of your new found travel approach! 


We have a tendency to view travel guidebooks as some sort of bible for the destination we’re planning on visiting, but it’s important to keep in mind that it’s only one writer’s view. Just because something is labelled as a “must see”, does not make it so. Take museums for example. Open up a guidebook to, well, anywhere, and you’ll see plenty of museums listed. But what if you’ve got no interest in the subject they’re exhibiting? There’s little point roaming around a renaissance art gallery if you have zero interest in renaissance art! So take a fresh look at all these places you’re told you should visit, and plan to skip them if you know they’re not really for you. You’re not missing out on anything if you don’t appreciate it!


There’s nothing wrong with taking a few snaps while we’re travelling; it’s always nice to look back at good times! But there’s a big difference between taking a few snaps for memory’s sake and constantly having your phone out, taking photos and videos of everything. There’s more to travelling than viewing everything through your smartphone screen! It’s not just photos, either; tech overall could be left behind. You don’t need to be told by other visitors which restaurants are worth visiting and which are not; figure it out for yourself. Equally, there is magic in avoiding the use of Google Maps when in a foreign city. Go get lost a little - you might just find something that makes your trip extra special by surprise.


You have your way of doing things, which was influenced by how things are done wherever you live. The same applies across the world, and they’ll be different to your own routines! If you’re in Seville during late spring and summer, then you’ll find the streets relatively deserted between 1 - 6 pm. Everyone’s having a siesta, away from the heat, but they’ll be back out until the early hours of the morning. Let yourself be taken over by the rhythms of other cities and destinations. You never know, you might just find a smart way of doing things, which you can then incorporate into your life back home.


Slow travel is akin to living like a local, as suggested in the paragraph above. And locals do not live in hotels, at least through choice. So if you want to make the most of slow travelling, then you need to think about alternative accommodation types. Instead of automatically checking into a hotel, think about booking an apartment or house; in some cases, you might be able to “house swap” whereby you temporarily change homes––and, to an extent, lives––with another person. As nice as a stay in a hotel can be, it doesn’t offer a very “real” experience, does it? It’s nothing like what you have at home. By staying somewhere like a local, you’ll be getting more of an “insider” view of your destination.


If you’re travelling locally, then a week or two staying in one accommodation type is just fine. But if you’re going further afield, then it’s a good idea to think about extending your trip. This will mean you’re not spending your entire time there trying to get over your jet lag and will help you to really get to know a place. If you choose a base that’s well connected to other areas, then you’ll be able to explore the entire region, too. If you’re lucky enough to have a job that allows you to work remotely, then you can take a look at places like a studio for rent in KL; from there, you can slow travel your way through lush sceneries, idyllic islands, or go trekking through the rainforest. The more time you spend in a place, the slower you’re able to travel; simple!


Slow travel is a little bit more considerate than the usual “I came, I saw, I conquered” approach favoured by many travellers. One of the best ways to give back to the place that’s opened its doors to you is to give back in one way or another. Get involved with local charities that bring the community together, and see what you can do. You’ll meet plenty of cool people, and they’ll be delighted that you’re giving as well as taking.


An aeroplane might get you from A to B the quickest, but why make speed a priority? You’re away from the rush of everyday life, so slow down. You’ll see and enjoy much of the country you’re visiting if you’re able to journey overland, be it by car or train. A journey might only take 1.5 hours on a plane, but you’ll be stuck in a metal tube with hundreds of other people, who wants that? Enjoy the view instead! You’ll make much better memories in the process! 


FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, has become something of a problem in recent years. Perhaps it’s because so many photos are shared on Instagram and other social media sites of smiling people on their travels, we think that in order to have a proper experience abroad, we need to somehow...live up to something, though we don’t know exactly what that is. If you’re doing something, then commit to it; don’t spend your time wondering what life would have been like if only you’d visited the other neighbourhood, or attended the party you were invited to, or anything else. FOMO is just a cruel trick that your mind plays on you; it’s not real, and you’re not missing out on anything. Be present!


The slow travel movement is a spin-off from the slow food movement, which works as a counterpoint to the ”fast food” establishments. So while engaging in slow travel, adopt the slow food approach too. That means staying well away from those chains that have been imported from the States, and really taking the time to get to know the local culinary highlights. And hey, you’re on holiday: you can treat yourself to a three-hour lunch if you wish.


Ultimately, it’s all about the adventure, about enjoying the process of travelling, rather than just going through the emotions of “been there, done that”, the likes of which are promoted by social media sites and commercial travel websites. Throw off the bowlines, get out there, and have a look at the world without a filtered lens in the way!

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