There is a current trend for vacationers that is long overdue. It is called slow travel. Simply put, this is where you take a trip to a destination, and while there take your time and learn everything there is to know about that destination. Get to know the people, the history, and the culture. Eat the authentic food of the town.
Get off the main path and see what tourists rarely take the time to see. When you leave, the people in the town will actually say good-bye. They will invite you back. You will remember them and the trip.
This type of vacation is very different from what we normally take today. It may take some getting used to. But, we are going to give you some tips on slow travel here that will put you in the right frame of mind.
Choose your destination
Before you decide to go somewhere to spend time and enjoy, make sure it is somewhere that interests you. In the UK (especially in the cities near London) there are many towns and cities with a great many interesting things within a short train ride.
If you enjoy history, museums, trains, parks, historical homes, castles, and shopping, then go to an area that has those things. But if you enjoy fine dining, going to clubs, enjoying 5-star hotels that have served royalty and celebrities for decades, then go to a major city. If you want to learn about the art of fine wine, don’t go to a town that specializes in beer.
Do your research
No matter where you go, you want to experience the people who made it what it is. This means you are not going to eat at a chain restaurant. You are going to discover who has the best restaurant in town that serves local food. Someone is serving the same recipes that his father and his grandfather served. This is the place that has the real flavour of the area.
What is the town/city famous for? Do they have the best seafood around? Maybe you are going to stay in a house-swap for the week. If you are, get up early and head to the fish market and buy some freshly caught fish and cook them for yourself. Go by a local bakery for fresh rolls and coffee and get to know about their family and what their speciality is.
Find out about history and mysteries that make up local legends. Plan your day trips to see old homesteads and birthplaces of historical people. If you do not know the who, what, when, and where of an area, you will not know what to look for and your slow travel will just get boring.
Photo credit: Te lensFix
Keep it interesting
You are not writing a book report. You do not have to spend the day walking from building to building asking questions. You can learn a lot by observing and listening. Plan to use bicycles.
You can zip around town or go on a day trip. It is a great way to cover more ground why getting exercise and having fun. Spend a day on a sailboat or canoeing. There will be many people in history that went before you. Water was once our primary source of travel.
Photo credit: Gary Barnes
Throw your watch out the window, or at least leave it in your room. Be open to what is happening around you. This is the best way to get to know the people and experience the real world they live in.
Most slow travellers go out during the off-season when the towns are not filled with tourists. Being in the off-season means you may see when the townspeople are repairing or replacing things. Maybe the town is famous for its lovely gardens and you love gardening.
When you arrive at the gardens you find it is closed because volunteers are working in the garden today. Why not volunteer? You love gardening and when will you ever get a chance to work with these great people and with plants that you can’t grow at home? You are helping the town and the environment. Be flexible.
The concept of slow travel is to stop looking at the few travel times you get in your life as times to mark countries off your list. Earth is Earth. If all you managed to do was make it to a location and take a picture in front of a landmark, but you can’t remember anything about the trip, it was not a vacation.
Whether you travel for 8 days or 8 hours, the point is to enjoy where you are. Allow yourself to go back. Never waste one minute of your wonderful life. You can never get it back again. So, take it slow.
Photo credit: Andrea Piacquadio