There’s one thing we need to establish straight off the bat: slow travel is not so much about the pace of travelling as the mentality with which you travel. So, if you think you cannot do it on a weekend getaway, I’m here to tell you otherwise.
If you were to apply all the Slow Travel concepts to your trip, yes, you’d probably spend a week to three months in one place living like a local. Whilst some have the time to do just that, it’s silly to think that it is something anyone can experience.
However, there are elements of this mode of travelling that you can easily bring with you everywhere you go.
It’s about what you do, not what you see.
Many people list the main touristic attractions of a certain destination and just jump from one to another. At the end of the trip, they mainly remember the place they visited via their own photos.
Why not take a cooking course instead? Or maybe you’d prefer dancing or language-learning? Most of the time, these courses last just half a day, but what you get in return is priceless. Imagine coming home from Barcelona and hosting a tapas dinner for your friends?
It’s not uncommon for people to fall in love with some aspect of a culture and make it their own passion. How many people become yogis after a life changing event in India? Or pursue a life of dancing after having a blast with Argentinian tango?
The moment you involve yourself and become a performer, as opposed to merely a spectator, everything changes. There’s nothing better than learning through experience.
It’s more about the people than the town itself.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t visit museums, parks, or important sites. By all means, go and have a nice time! But these places alone won’t tell you the whole story. Only locals can open your eyes to secrets that lie in front of you.
You can always use Couchsurfing to stay with a local and have a first-hand peek into their lives. I’ve once stayed with a lovely family in the outskirts of Slovakia who invited me to a once-a-year event in Bratislava.
It’s more about quality than quantity.
I always cringe when people tell me that they managed to visit six countries in their two-week trip around Europe. What they’re doing is not visiting these countries, it’s just passing through.
I understand you might want to make the most of it — who knows when you will be coming back. But are you really? When asked for advice, I tend to tell people to visit one or maybe two countries in those 14 days.
I believe your experience will me more fulfilling if you immerse yourself in one country and explore it fully. You could perhaps have a base at a central city and make a few day trips to the neighbouring towns around it.
When you’re jumping to a new country every two to three days, you spend the majority of your time — and money! — moving around instead of enjoying yourself.
It’s about connecting.
Slow Travel is about connecting with the place you’re visiting. There’s no right or wrong way of doing it as long as you leave the place with a feeling that you learnt something new about its culture — preferably something memorable.
Some people prefer escaping the big capitals in favour of the countryside, where small towns remain unscathed by mass tourism. Some venture even further and explore farms via a Wwoofing experience.
The majority of the people who practise Slow Travel also tend to be minimalists. Nowadays it’s pretty much a cliché to favour “experiences instead of things,” but those who truly take it to heart, feel the benefits of this lifestyle.