As travel becomes easier and more affordable, a larger number of people set out to visit new countries every year. However, in their eagerness to explore as many destinations as they can, one wonders whether these travelers are just ticking items off a list or actually immersing themselves in the new cultures.
Slow travel is not only about adopting an unhurried pace during your trips, but it’s a mindset that can transform the way you connect to a new destination. Instead of hopping from one attraction to another, collecting forgettable selfies, why not travel in a way that’ll truly make an impression on your life?
Here are some tips on how to get into slow travel:
Stay longer at your destination
When you decide to extend your stay in a particular city, you’re forced to look beyond the obvious tourist sites, and find places, which are usually only privy to the locals. If you’re fortunate enough to spend a longer period such as two weeks to a couple of months, you can then live more like local, understand the nuances of the culture, and possibly be part of the community.
Connect with the locals
While museums, statues, and some iconic sites can certainly teach you about the history of a city, it’s through its citizens that you can paint a complete picture. Put yourself in a position, where you can see ordinary people and possibly strike up a conversation with them. Forget the familiar international brands and embrace everything local—visit sizzling food markets, use local buses, and dine out in unique places where you’re probably the only foreigner.
Prioritize quality, not quantity
It’s not uncommon for people backpacking around Europe to visit five countries or more in just two weeks. They squeeze dozens of attractions in per day, and forget half of them by the end of the trip. A slow traveler, however, would probably pick one country and take the time to properly explore a selection of cities. They’d also choose one or two attractions per day and make the most of them.
Focus on Experiences
Looking back at your past trips, have you noticed that you’re a lot more likely to remember the things you’ve done as opposed to the ones you’ve seen? The right activity can have a lasting impact on you, and seeking them should be a priority. A captivating Tango lesson in Argentina might spark an unknown passion for dancing, or a cooking class in Osaka could teach you a delightful dish to cook for your friends when you return home.
Consider learning the language
When you make an effort to learn the local language, a new world of experience can open up to you. While you can get by with English everywhere, most locals don’t speak it, which may hinder your communication with them. However, by achieving a basic to intermediate level, you’ll be able to talk to people about their interests, worries, and passions, and eventually learn the subtleties and intricacies of their customs.
Soak up the culture via books and films
As informative as they can be, guidebooks will never have the depth of authentic works of art, which can teach you about a destination by taking you on a journey of its own. A traveler going to India, for instance, will be a lot more equipped after watching the three-hour movie Gandhi and reading the 900-page book Shantaram. Some say traveling begins way before one sets foot in a new place, and that the planning can be as pleasurable as the trip itself.