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Whenever you’re travelling, do you ever feel like you’re rushing it on order to see everything that’s on your ‘list’? We do have that sometimes. Whilst wanting to see everything a place has to offer, we often forget to submerge ourselves in the destination properly. That’s why we feel an urge to take it easy during our travels.

Research from Booking.com showed us we’re not the only ones: they state 48% of travellers want to travel slower, both because it’s better for our planet and better for their travel experience. But what is the phenomenon of ‘slow travel’ exactly? What are the benefits, and more importantly, how can you do it yourself?

slow travel

What is slow travel?

When you’re going on a ‘slow trip’, you’re literally taking it slow. Instead of checking off your bucketlist at the same pace as usual, you take your time. You properly get to know a destination and its people, culture, tradition and cuisine. In other words: you swap quantity for quality.

In order to do so, you travel with a slower form of transportation. Instead of taking the airplane to your destination, you go by train, ferry, public transport, bike or foot. This will make you realise it’s not all about your destination, but also about the way there. Furthermore, when your travelling slowly, you mostly organise your travels by yourself, instead of with an (international) tour operator. And lastly: you spend your time at local accommodations, restaurants, markets, cafes and sights.

Slow Travel
Trainride Sri Lanka

What are the benefits of slow travel?

It can be really beneficial to start travelling slowly, for your travel experience as well as the environment. We’ll list some of the main upsides:

  • By travelling slowly, your trip gets more sustainable. Slow travel requires you to take on a slower form of transportation, which in most cases is better for our planet. 
  • Slow travel can really help you to relax. The first two days you might still be in your high-paced rhythm, but after some time you’ll adapt to the local slow-paced life. 
  • If you take your time exploring a place, you’ll start to get to know the people. Talk to them, see what drives them and how they live their daily life, and eventually start making meaningful connections and friendships that might last a lifetime.
  • Next to getting to know the people, you’ll get to know the destination better. You’ll probably see and experience more valuable things than usual. The experiences you have become more authentic, unique and memorable.
  • Last but not least: in general, you’ll see more with slow travel. If you fly to Italy for a holiday at the beach, you might get there quicker, but you miss the glorious European roads through the Alps, or a magnificent and adventurous trainride. 

Bus Sri Lanka

Tips & tricks for slow travelling

As we’ve shown, slow travel can have a positive impact in a lot of ways. But how do you integrate slow travel into one of your own journeys? Here are some tips and tricks that might help you.

Take your time
We probably can’t stress this enough. Don’t rush trying to see a whole country in a short amount of time. Rather explore a certain region properly. Try to stay (at least) one week at a place.

Go off the beaten path
We don’t encourage you to leave the set trail when your doing a hike, but we do suggest you to look further than what your travel guide is telling you. Try to get in touch with the locals and ask them what they reccomend you to do or see. It helped us many times with finding delicious local dishes and tourist-free views.

Slow travel

Local, local, local!
A simple, yet effective way to travel slowly, is to do as much as possible in a local way. When you’re looking for a place to spend the night, don’t go for the luxurious hotel, but instead opt for a cozy guesthouse or homestay. Instead of getting your coffee at a Starbucks-franchise, go to a local coffeeshop and support local farmers. And when you’re going from place to place, try to see if there’s a local form of transportation you can take. The quickest way can save you time, but probably won’t give you the special encounters you have when travelling local.

TIP: Are you interested in giving back to the local community and economy? Read our blog about community-based travel here.

Some more tips & tricks for slow travel

  • Try to turn off your devices and fully enjoy the environment you’re in and the people you’re with.
  • Get your groceries at markets or small shops and cook some local dishes (or take a cooking class!).
  • Don’t plan every single day of your trip ahead, but instead leave some room for spontaneity.
  • Try to give something back to the local community by, for example, doing voluntary work or joining a (beach) clean-up

If you have any questions regarding slow travel, please drop a comment in the comment section below!

Sustainable travel