Have you ever been on a trip that leaves you more exhausted than when you started? Americans, especially, are accustomed to a fast pace of life, and we often bring that fast-paced mindset with us on vacation. At Prontopia, we like to emphasize the quality of our travel more than the quantity. That’s where the idea of slow travel comes in.
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Slow travel sprouted from the slow food movement that began in Italy in the 1980’s. When McDonald’s planned to open a fast-food restaurant in Rome, Carlo Petrini organized a protest involving wielding bowls of penne – and it worked. The idea here is that how you eat matters, because it’s part of a larger ecosystem. Slow travel derives from this idea – emphasizing that how you travel matters.
Slow travel takes the philosophies about travel we often carry with us unconsciously and turns them upside down. Instead of prioritizing covering the most distance in the least amount of time, slow travelers value a deep immersion into their travel destination’s culture. Instead of, “I may only see this once so I need to check off all the boxes!”, slow travelers often say, “There’s always another trip!”.
We often try to fill our itineraries to the brim with all the sites a destination has to offer, letting other people and lists define our “must-have” experiences. But slow travel recognizes that there may be a different way to get the most out of your experience, by realizing that travel is a unique opportunity to take a deep dive (something we don’t always get to do in our day-to-day lives). Slow travel can act as a genuine respite from our culture of busy-ness.
There are a lot of reasons to adopt slow travel practices, from tending to your physical and mental health while you travel, to contributing to local economies, to reducing your environmental footprint. But where to begin? Don’t worry: you can take this whole slow travel thing, well, slowly!
1. Book local accommodation, and stay there
Do you want to know how locals live? A great way to do that is to actually live with locals. Try a home share, CouchSurfing, or a local bed and breakfast, and share stories and meals with the locals that live there. And try staying in one place instead of switching up your location. You will start to learn your way back “home”, interact with the neighborhood, and feel truly immersed in the culture.
2. Take a slower mode of transportation
There are a couple reasons to choose a slower vehicle. Because fast modes of transportation have the highest footprint, choosing a slower way to go automatically reduces your footprint. But there’s another reason to move a little slower, and that is to enjoy a deeper immersion in your surroundings. Think about it: if you’re on a plane, how much of the scenery can you actually see? Compare this to a train, or a bike. The slower you go, the more local interactions you’re able to experience. Who knows what you might discover!
3. Simplify your schedule
The beauty of slow travel might just be the way it takes stress right out of your schedule. Instead of following a strict timetable, try scheduling one or two activities for the day and then taking your time to get there. Get inspired! Follow the smell of fresh-baked bread, walk along a river, watch a street artist paint a portrait of a stranger. You might be surprised what a day with a loose agenda has in store for you!
4. Enjoy local, seasonal ingredients
Both the idea of slow food and slow travel place emphasis on the impact your small choice has on the larger ecosystem. In regards to the food you’re eating, that means that the closer the source of your food, the lower the environmental footprint and the greater the support of the local economy. A simple way to implement local eating into your travels is to simply head over to a local market (which is also a great way to reduce your plastic waste). You might even learn a bit of the language while you’re at it!
5. Question your motivations
Have you ever been tempted to visit a destination solely to take a picture for social media? It’s a question worth asking. One study showed that “people were more likely to travel somewhere if they thought it would result in an increase in their social media following and engagement.”
While there’s nothing wrong with taking photos to post on social media, it’s also worth taking a moment to look at your motivations behind your day’s plans – if only to make sure you’re including experiences that also go beyond what photographs can convey. What kind of experiences bring you the most joy? Do those!
What are some of your favorite ways to embrace the slow travel mindset? Come travel the slow way with Prontopia and immerse yourself in local sights, sounds, and culture!