If your crazy-busy lifestyle has you dreaming of escaping to a simple, relaxing getaway, it might be a great time to embrace slow travel. Slow travel emphasizes quality over quantity and incorporates wellness, cultural, and environmental impact. With slow travel, you can follow what speaks to your heart and not what’s trending on Instagram. Overall, you can have a more fulfilling experience
Mindfulness at Home and Abroad
Do You Check Things Off?
In my past travels, I’ve made a point of hitting up the top 10 sights. I checked off each destination as if that was the only reason I was there in the first place. I want you to know that’s not the only way to travel.
More recently, I travel with mindfulness in mind. Instead of globetrotting with a bucket list, I’ve narrowed my destinations to the top two or three and focused my time and energy on learning as much as I can about them.
How to Embrace Slow Life
Trendy but Not New
One of the biggest misperceptions about slow travel is that it’s the same as a simple life. Slow living is not about living your life at half-speed or without passion. It’s about living life at the right speed.
Too often, we rush from one thing to the next. Slow living isn’t about losing time by going slowly. Slow living is about gaining time by doing the things you value most.
One way of accomplishing this is by traveling with the smallest carbon and environmental footprint. If we are stationed in Asia, I travel around Asia. I eat local foods and celebrate local customs and celebrations. Eating and experiencing things I would in my home country inherently means that everything is imported. All of the shipping just contributes to environmental damage.
Embrace the ‘joy of missing out.’ Don’t try to do it all.
You may need to adopt that “Rome wasn’t built in a day” mindset by choosing quality over quantity while realizing intention is essential. Consider what you’re gaining and not what you are losing. Think about what it would be like to come home from a vacation refreshed and renewed instead of feeling like you need a break from your vacation.
I used to try to do it all. I’d put as much stuff in the experience duffel bag as possible. However, after a while, you can’t tell one church, restaurant, or attraction from the next. Oftentimes, photographs do help jog the mind about specific details from your trips.
But there are times when I remind myself to put the camera down and take a metal picture with my mind’s eye instead. Every moment doesn’t have to be posted on social media. Some things are just for me.
Do Something You’ll Remember
Do your research and learn which tips and aspects of slow travel are most valuable to you. Be thoughtful. Don’t try to incorporate everything you read about into your trips.
Instead, choose one or two areas to focus on that will make you happy. Take the time to get to know the people, the culture, and the language. And please, for the love of travel, don’t commute from one expat community to the next! Some of my favorite aspects of travel to focus my time and energy on are:
- Sustainability: What I eat, buy and do when I get there are as environment-friendly as possible.
- Retreat: Take the time to slow down and clear the deck with activities that renew my body, mind, and soul.
- Experiment: I look for activities that teach and not just do. How can I embody a more in-depth insight into the people, places, and cultures that I can’t find in a tourist guidebook?
- Women-only trips: Some of my favorite trips are with my best girlfriends because it’s a chance to rebuild the bonds of distance and time. We can show our support for one another outside of our families and marital lives.
Use Technology, Don’t Let it Use You
Slow travel doesn’t mean you have to travel back to a time before technology. There are a lot of apps and tech gear that make travel more convenient. And, let’s be honest traveling high tech is more fun. I’ve read a few articles that imply that technology is not conducive to slow travel and that simply is not the case.
Technology is a tool and nothing more. It doesn’t need to be addictive and control us. It’s about using technology as another resource in our duffel bag to make travel more efficient. Thus, each of us has to decide how to use our gadgets and when they need to be put away.
As a black American military spouse, I am conscious of my environment in unique ways. Like many Americans, I have lost a lot of connections to my heritage and my ancestors’ cultures. I look for experiences that connect me to my heritage and the cultures of others and allow me to share those experiences.
As a result, one of the ways I share the joy of slow travel is by gifting experiences instead of things. This applies to both the people I meet on my journeys and the souvenirs I bring home to my loved ones.The key to true happiness is experiences and not purchases. That, is what slow travel is all about.
The pandemic has encouraged everyone around the world to hit pause. Maybe you start your slow travel journey with slow food. Try activities that are not typically considered travel-related. How about riding your bike to work instead of driving? Buy locally produced fruit and vegetables at the Farmer’s Market. Or, connect with yourself through meditation, journaling, or practicing yoga.
You don’t have to get on a plane to the other side of the world to begin your slow travel journey. You can begin with trips around your neighborhood and stepping outside your comfort zone. Whatever you choose, today’s a good day to get started.