Slow Travel is the participation in ordinary daily activities to learn how people live: their food, culture, language, the quirky details that make a place unique and the similarities that weave a common thread through humanity.

 

 
 

In this context, ‘slow’ doesn’t necessarily depict speed of movement. Slow Travel is about connecting with your surroundings – people, food, nature, or (historic) culture – and opening your heart and mind to experience the unexpected. The slow travel philosophy encourages you to get to know an area well, in a way that is less stressful for you, more respectful of the locals and easier on the environment (and perhaps on your budget as well).

Imagine staying in a Mexican hacienda, wandering the local Mercado for fresh fruit and vegetables, joining in on local fiestas and cooling off in a local swimming hole nearby. Slow Travel is the participation in ordinary daily activities to learn how people live: their food, culture, language, the quirky details that make a place unique, and the similarities that weave a common thread through humanity.

 
Life in the western world is fast, and fast travel is common to many of us: running around to see all the capitals of Europe, to climb the highest mountain on each continent, to spot each type of wildlife in the Amazon… In my previous life, vacations used to be all about doing as much as possible and I had a great time doing precisely that.
However, when I left the rat race in 2003 and set off to explore Asia with my partner Coen in an antique Land Cruiser, we discovered slow travel – although the term ‘slow travel’ was alien to us at the time. As we hit the road we soon found more pleasure in staying in places and connecting with people than trying to see/do ‘it’ all.
— Karin-Marijke Vis
 

What is Slow Travel

  • Slow Travel is about the journey, not about the arrival
  • Exploring at your own pace
  • Feeling comfortable without a plan or itinerary
  • Connecting and caring about your environment and behaving accordingly
  • Following up on tips from locals, whether it be sights, food, dress or any other matter
  • Slow Travel is about exchanging and sharing (two-way relationship), as opposed to ‘taking’ (one-way relationship)
  • Slow Travel means keeping an open mind for the unexpected

Advantages of Slow Travel

  • Meaningful memories – you’re likely to create more fulfilling and enriching experiences than if you were following the standard ‘tourist trail’
  • Personal growth – by getting out of your comfort zone you’ll become a more confident person and you may learn new skills, such as another language
  • Increased awareness – by meeting people around the world and learning about new cultures you’ll be better able to challenge stereotypes
  • Social consciousness – you will be contributing more to the local economy.
  • Saving money – slow travel experiences are often cheap or free
 
 

HERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU CAN TRY, EVEN ON THE SHORTEST TRIP:

 
 
  • Visit local markets
  • Eat street food
  • Take a cooking class and try out the recipes afterwards
  • Learn the language. Even a few phrases can go a long way
  • Wander aimlessly. Turn down any side street that takes your fancy
  • Cycle around different neighbourhoods or through villages in the countryside
  • Take local transport
  • Spend a morning people-watching in a local cafe
  • Stay in one place rather than trying to see as much of the destination as possible. A week renting an apartment in the Italian countryside could well be a more enjoyable experience than a whirlwind tour of Venice, Florence and Rome
  • Have a picnic in a park
  • Seek out a local restaurant with no English menu, maybe even no menu at all. Order something you don’t recognise
  • Couch surf or stay in a local’s house
  • House sit or Home exchange
  • Take a course – painting, scuba diving, salsa dancing, whatever you are interested in
  • Volunteer
  • See a local band
  • Attend a local event, such as a gallery opening or a popular local sport match
  • Visit a festival that no one’s heard of