Last updated August 7, 2023
Do you ever get back from your travels feeling like it all went by in a flash of activity, sights, visits, food and encounters that all sort of blur together? Like you can’t quite put your finger on what exactly it was you experienced.
Perhaps you came back home tired, over-exerted and maybe even mildly disappointed, feeling that the reality of your trip didn’t quite match up to the vision you had going into it.
If you’ve ever felt slightly disappointed or overwhelmed by the pace of your travels, it might be time to consider embracing slow travel. This growing movement encourages us to slow down, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in destinations and appreciate the richness they offer and the lessons they provide.
Power of Slow Travel
Slow travel emerged as an antithesis to the whirlwind-bucket-list-type-of-touring that focuses on hitting as many of the “hot spots” at your destination as possible. These kinds of trips often mean days filled with non-stop activity, rushing from sight to sight, changing location within a day, or, at most, three.
It is a grueling pace of travel that values quantity over quality. The slow travel movement is all about honing in on the quality of your experience, not the quantity.
When you slow down, it creates the space and opportunity to experience a destination as the locals do. Instead of racing around, driven by FOMO trying to see and do it all and, inevitably, missing out on what makes the place you’re traveling to worth visiting in the first place, try embracing a slow travel mindset. You’ll find that your experiences when you slow down will be far more valuable and memorable.
As a mindful travel coach, I specialize in guiding clients toward purposeful, meaningful and impactful travel experiences. Embracing slow travel is a prime way to achieve this. Slow travel, at its core, cultivates awareness, presence, connection and well-being.
Slow travel is about engaging with destinations on a deeper and more authentic level, forging meaningful connections with people, culture, heritage and nature. It also provides us with the space to reflect on the profound impact of our experiences in places beyond our own.
Six Tips for Slow Travel
Here are my top tips for a more mindful approach to your journeys so that you too can enjoy the benefits of slow travel.
1. Set Travel Intentions
Commit to slowing down while you travel and design your trip so that you can stay aligned with this vision. Identify what is motivating you to explore slow travel in the first place and what core values you have that will be met by approaching your travels at a slower pace. Perhaps you set an intention such as “I plan to get as familiar as possible with the neighborhood I’m staying in,” or “I want to find a local yoga class I can attend daily.”
2. Get Curious
Keep an open mind and an open heart throughout your journey so that you can more fully appreciate your experience. When you approach your experiences through a lens of curiosity, you may find that slowing down heightens your awareness of a simple but special moment that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. This is the essence of quality over quantity. Even the small things are often worth slowing down for.
3. Stay Present
Lean into the heightened awareness that slow travel brings and pay attention. Allow yourself to pause often to ponder and reflect on whatever it is that is unfolding around you. Consider putting your phone away so you can fully bask in the present moment. You can do this by setting some boundaries for yourself such as, “I’ll only check my phone in the morning and in the evening,” or “I’ll wait to post after my trip.”
4. Expect the Unexpected
Let go of any prior expectations you might have had for your journey and, instead, choose to go with the flow. The sooner you can release control and do this, the more enjoyable your travels will become—especially when you’ve slowed down enough to accept and embrace the unexpected with joy. Traveling with a mindset of JOMO, the joy of missing out, is an excellent way to embrace the unexpected and the seemingly mundane.
5. Seek Meaningful Connection
Give all facets of your destination a chance. Slow travel is all about connecting on a deeper level. By giving everything a chance you will invite a level of intimacy with, and an appreciation for, your destination that will make your experience infinitely more impactful and rewarding. The longer you stay in one place, the better you’ll get to know it and its inhabitants. And the more likely you’ll forge meaningful relationships with both.
6. Remember You Are a Guest
Be a respectful, considerate, conscious and responsible traveler in every way possible. As a guest in someone else’s “home,” it is on you to behave accordingly. By slowing down you will have a better chance of experiencing the local way of life more authentically. You’ll also place a greater value on becoming a more conscious and ethical traveler.
Slow Down to Experience More
Now you are ready to embark on your next adventure with a more mindful mindset and a set of guidelines to help you embrace slow travel so that you get back from your next trip not only feeling rejuvenated, inspired and energized—but with a profound sense of appreciation for your experience and the new insights it fostered.
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