Have you ever thought about what you want to get out of your travels?
Many people plan quick trips to the breathtaking locations on their bucket lists to gain more “likes” on social media. Some even take those frantic tours to see “everything” the destination has to offer. They switch cities nearly every other day.
This was true of me as well. But I quickly realized that I needed to break free from the FOMO trap.
I took a step back and thought about why I was traveling. I realized that my desire to travel the world is a way for me to give myself some “me” time. I want to stroll through cities, feel like a local, immerse myself in local culture, and discover hidden gems.
I needed to slow down; it was the need of the hour. I took baby steps and hung out in one location to quench my desire for an authentic experience. I didn’t need to see everything because this was not my last visit to this location.
Slow travel is the new way to see the world. Slow travel is all about taking your time and enjoying the journey. You can do this by traveling to lesser-known destinations, slowing down your pace, and savoring local culture.
There are many reasons why you should consider slow traveling, here are just a few!
1. It lets you connect with the local community
When you slow down your pace, you have more time to connect with the local community. This is a great way to learn about their culture and customs. As soon as you don a tourist hat, you are likely to be in a hurry and won’t have time for a meaningful conversation. Slow travel also allows you to form deeper connections with the people you meet. There will be ample time to visit a local family-run restaurant and speak with the owner about how his forefathers made the restaurant a success. You never know what surprises and insights you might come across!
I used to go to a local community chapter meeting in Mechelen, Belgium. I had a vague idea about the community’s mission. But being among the locals and discovering their camaraderie felt good. I made a few friends there, and we’re still in touch after 15 years, even though I haven’t been there in a long time.
2. It gives you a chance to live like a local
When you’re not rushing off to the next destination, you have time to live like a local. This means you can explore the city at your own pace, without having to worry about making it to the next tourist spot. You can take public transport instead of cabs everywhere, and walk or bike if the distances are short. This way, you’ll see more of the city and get a feel for what it’s like to live there. You can also visit local markets, try new foods, and participate in local festivals that tourists typically don’t have time for. You will quickly learn how to make local friends.
During a business trip to Bangkok, I was stranded due to unexpected political unrest. I was a little apprehensive about going out on my own. My hotel’s housekeeping boy befriended me. I used to hang out with him after his shift ended in the evening. He would take me to local eateries and places that few tourists know about. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise for me as I truly lived like a local.
3. It allows you to appreciate the little things
When you’re constantly on the go, it’s easy to miss out on the little things that make travel so special. By slowing down, you can take the time to appreciate the beauty that surrounds you, whether it’s a stunning sunset or a magnificent piece of architecture. You can also savor the little moments, like enjoying a cup of coffee while people watching or chatting with a local vendor at the market.
I recall walking down the streets of Asmara, Eritrea’s capital. On the roadside, I noticed a group of children playing with marbles. They were laughing and having a great time. It brought back memories of playing marbles with my friends as a child. The kids were delighted when I offered to try a few tricks on my own. It was a beautiful moment that I savored and would never have experienced if I had been rushing through the city.
4. It saves you money
If you’re always on the go, you’re likely to spend more money on things like transportation and accommodation. When you travel slowly, you can save money by staying in one place for a longer period. This also allows you to cook your meals and visit local markets for groceries. You can also take advantage of discounts and deals that are typically not available to tourists.
When I was briefly living in Gambia, I rented an apartment in Senegambia (a hangout neighborhood for expats) for a month instead of a hotel room. I had access to a kitchen, so I cooked most of my meals. This saved me a lot of money, as eating out can be quite expensive in that neighborhood. I also made friends with the locals, which came in handy when I wanted to buy local produce at a discounted price.
5. It helps you break out of your comfort zone
If you’re used to a fast-paced life, slowing down can be quite a challenge. But that’s precisely what makes it so rewarding. When you travel slowly, you’re forced to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. This can be anything from learning how to cook a local dish to taking lessons to learn the local language. It’s a great way to challenge yourself and learn new skills. Such experiences will make you a person who understands perspectives from different angles. You will become more responsive to society and respect the world without being prejudiced.
6. It helps you to relax and de-stress
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the rat race and forget what’s truly important in life. If you’re always on the go, you’re likely to feel stressed and anxious. Slowing down can help you to relax and de-stress. When you travel slowly, you have the time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. This can be anything from reading a book in a park to taking a stroll through the city. You can also take time out to meditate or practice yoga. By doing so, you’ll return home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
I remember when I went to Gandikota, I didn’t have any internet or phone signal for two days. At first, I felt disconnected and a bit anxious. But soon enough, I started to enjoy the peace. I spent my days exploring the canyon, watching the sunrise, sitting near the gorge and doing nothing. It was a great way to relax and de-stress.
7. It prevents tourist burnout
The key to preventing tourist burnout is to ditch the to-do list. When you’re trying to see as many things as possible, it leads to exhaustion and leaves you with negativity. Instead of thinking of your trip as a list of checkboxes, take the time to enjoy each experience. Savor the sights, sounds, and flavors of your destination. Talk to locals and learn about their culture. By taking the time to truly immerse yourself in your surroundings, you’ll come away from your trip feeling refreshed and invigorated.
Slow travel is a great way to see the world and experience new things. When you’re on the go, it’s easy to miss out on what’s happening around you. By slowing down your pace, you have time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. This can be anything from reading a book in a park to taking a stroll through the city. You can also take time out to meditate or practice yoga. Slow travel also helps prevent tourist burnout by allowing you to truly immerse yourself in your surroundings. I would love to hear some of your reasons for considering slow travel.