In today's fast-paced world, we are constantly consuming. From fast food to fast fashion, the relentless advancement of technology has accelerated our pace of life. This has led to shorter attention spans and a need for instant gratification.
Over and over again this is translating into our travel plans. We find ourselves cramming in “the highlights” in order to spend less money and time in a single destination before we urgently rush to the next and do it all again. Not anymore. It’s time to slow down and learn the benefits of slow travel.
Travel should not be about counting countries
, it should be about connection, culture and curiosity. Not only will we share how to embrace slow travel, but why we believe it’s the future. After all, without it we won’t have a planet left to explore!
What is Slow Travel?
Slow travel is a transformative approach to exploring the world that encourages travellers to break free from a checklist-driven mentality. Instead, it encourages you to immerse yourself deeply in the essence of a place, embracing its culture, and making meaningful connections with the people who call it home.
Rather than rushing through multiple destinations to tick them off a list, slow travel invites us to savour every moment. By spending more time in a single destination, we allow ourselves to unravel its hidden gems. We get to experience its daily rhythm and gain a profound understanding of its history and traditions.
Let’s forget about itineraries and bucket lists and instead embrace a journey of leisure, curiosity, and mindfulness. A journey that will not only change the way we travel but also the way we perceive the world and ourselves within it. Are you ready?
Benefits of Slow Travel
Quality over Quantity
Wouldn’t you rather return home able to speak a new language
because you took the time to immerse fully? Wouldn’t you rather leave with friendships instead of just photos because you took the time to connect with locals
instead of just clicking selfies? Slow travel is just that. It’s choosing quality over quantity every time you leave home.
Create deeper connections
Embracing slow travel opens doors to authentic connections. Instead of rushing to snap a photo of one famous attraction then onto the next, you can make every journey a soul-enriching voyage of self-discovery. I don’t know about you, but that sounds much more exciting than yet another snap of the Eiffel tower or avocado toast in Bali.
Slow travel allows you to travel deeper - far beyond the Google suggestions or guidebook routes. You get to see all angles of a destination, not just a curated version for tourists. You’ll discover a mutual understanding and respect between travellers and locals which breaks down barriers and promotes cultural exchange.
This will help you to go beyond surface-level attractions to find a true sense of fulfilment from your travels. This means it won’t just enhance your own personal growth but also contribute to a more interconnected world. This is more important now than ever as modern technology fools us into thinking we’re better connected, when it’s actually stripping the world of genuine connection.
It’s better for the environment
One of the easiest ways to be a better traveller
is to embrace slow travel. After all, we want to preserve our precious planet so future generations can explore it for ever more. By spending more time in the same place you’ll reduce your carbon footprint. This is because you’ll opt for more sustainable modes of transport such as buses instead of planes, or cycling instead of taxis. These options won’t just significantly reduce greenhouse gases but reduce your expenses too. Ideal for those travelling on a budget!
Additionally, staying longer in one place allows you to adopt more sustainable practices.
You’ll have more time to research and make an informed choice without the pressure of popularity or where the guidebooks tell you to go.
You’re also more likely to support local businesses, avoid wasteful souvenirs or fast food and respect the local environment with time to explore off the beaten track. Over time, this attitude will help to reverse the damage caused by over tourism and encourage visitors to travel mindfully, where respecting the planet is paramount.
Support local communities
As we venture away from those well-trodden paths and learn to tread lightly on the planet, we’ll be supporting local businesses along the way. When you travel slower, there is less focus on convenience and more consideration where your time and money is actually spent.
You have time to browse local markets, discover the best barista in town and support the sharing economy
instead of international franchises. Spending money with local businesses directly contributes to the local economy's growth and development. This, in turn, helps create jobs and opportunities for the community, improving their overall livelihood.
Not only that, but local businesses often promote and preserve the region's unique culture, traditions, and cuisine. This means by travelling slower, and choosing to support locals you can help preserve the unique charm of a destination.
Imagine a more relaxed pace with no stress, no rush and no tight schedules. Bliss! This creates space for genuine enjoyment and a more immersive experience. Embracing slow travel encourages you to be fully present in the moment, savouring the entire journey not just the destination. This mindfulness will help to reduce any anxiety about the future or past, promoting a sense of calm and contentment.
Not to mention, frequent travel and constant movement can lead to exhaustion and burnout. By travelling slowly, you will avoid the fatigue associated with long journeys and extensive itineraries.
How to Achieve Slow Travel
When time is limited and funds are running low we all want to squeeze in as much as possible to make the most of our trip. We’ve been there too! However, the pressure to do more with less time and money can be incredibly stressful. We believe being on a budget can even improve your trip
if you know how.
Here’s how to embrace slow travel and consider taking your time on your next adventure:
Adopt a shift in mindset
Embracing slow travel starts with a simple shift in mindset. It’s time to stop focusing on the urgency of travelling from one destination to the next and instead focus on the journey itself.
It’s a mindset anyone can be part of, not just those who are time rich. For example, if you have a full time job you may be limited on free time but this doesn’t mean you need to avoid slow travel. Instead, choose one destination. Keep returning to that destination until you feel you’ve really experienced it and explored every corner, then move onto the next.
That’s slow travel. It’s about adopting a mindset where you are getting to truly know a place intimately, flaws and all. This way you’ll help make travel more meaningful and sustainable, enriching both your life and the places you visit.
Embrace a flexible itinerary
You may think in order to embrace slow travel you need months and months to explore a destination. This doesn’t need to be the case. It’s not about how much time you have to spend, but more about how you choose to spend it.
If you only have two weeks in a destination so have crammed in “the highlights” that Google told you to visit then you’ll leave tired and broke with a camera roll of photos like every other tourist.
Instead allow time in your itinerary for curiosity. Allow time for conversations with locals and time to get lost wandering. Allow time for mindfulness, to stop and smell the roses before rushing to the next spot. A flexible itinerary allows more adventure, more connection and more memories. By planning less, you’ll experience far more.
Utilise sustainable transport options
When you’re on a mission to visit the most places you can, this means choosing the quickest mode of transport = flying. Unfortunately, the quickest mode of transport is also the most damaging to the environment and usually the most expensive. Thankfully, there are so many more sustainable options that will help you to embrace slow travel. These include:
Public Transport: Hope aboard buses, trams, subways, or trains to get around cities and between destinations. Public transport is often more energy and cost efficient so it's a win win!
: Rent or bring your bicycle to explore cities and rural areas. Travelling on two wheels
not only reduces emissions but makes it far easier to head off the beaten path and immerse yourself in nature.
Walking: Although it takes longer, exploring on foot means more freedom. You can avoid the crowds and restrictive schedules of public transport and find your own adventure. Not to mention it's one of the best ways to travel for free and those calories you’ll burn along the way!
: If you need to rent a car, find a travel buddy and consider carpooling
. This is not only better for the environment, but your bank balance too!
Offset Carbon Emissions
: Finally, if you do need to fly, consider investing in carbon offset programs (similar to this one
) to compensate for the emissions generated during air travel or other less sustainable forms of transport.
Set new travel goals
Before you book your next trip, ask yourself, “why do I want to travel there?”
Is it because you’ve seen so many photos on social media? Is it because your friends have been and you’re missing out? Is it because it's where you can get the cheapest flight to?
If the answer is yes, to any of those…It’s time to set new travel goals. Choose destinations based on what you can give back, not just what you’ll gain from the experience. Why worry about whether it's the most picturesque destination or if the weather isn't perfect. Instead you’ll encounter the warmth of locals, immerse yourself in their culture, and will leave with cherished memories beyond mere selfies!
We’ve saved our best tip until last! One of our favourite ways to embrace slow travel is to join Workaway
. With over 50,000 opportunities across 170+ countries around the world it could not be easier to explore at your own pace while making a positive impact.
It’s our mission
to build a community of global travellers who genuinely want to see the world whilst contributing and giving back to the places they visit. This means living with locals, engaging with communities and embracing authentic experiences.
Whether it’s through homestays
or house sitting
there is a type of volunteering
to suit all skills and personalities. By volunteering through Workaway you can travel slower, deeper and with a greater sense of purpose.
Thanks to the benefits of slow travel, modern tourism is hopefully changing. The future of travel is no longer about racing around the globe, but instead about connection, culture and curiosity.
Moreover, slow travel empowers us to be responsible travellers, treading lightly on the planet and supporting the preservation of the world's natural and cultural treasures. It's a travel style that leaves us with not only cherished memories but a profound sense of purpose and fulfilment. Far more than counting countries ever will.
We ask you to join us on the slow travel movement to celebrate the present moment and to ensure preservation for generations to come. Together, we can rewrite the narrative of travel, where quality triumphs over quantity, and the journey itself becomes an invaluable destination.