How to slow travel if you have only 20 days off per year? It’s not necessarily about the travel time you have. It’s about the meaning you attach to the time you do have. That is slow travel.
In my previous post I wrote about what slow travel is and why I’m such a big fan of this travel style. Slow travel is not just for the digital nomads and long term-travellers who have a lot of ‘free’ time on hands. It about discovering, experiencing and living a destination meaningfully and mindfully. It’s for everyone who wants to come home from travels as rich (in experience :)) as possible. After eight years of globetrotting, I have figured out a few things on rewarding travel and…
Take your time taking in surroundings before grabbing your camera to ‘facebook’ it to your friends. Engage all senses! Don’t just go see things but listen, feel, smell, taste all the small things you encounter. Smell the frangipani flower, listen to the sounds of the waves, enjoy every bite of the mango ice cream, feel the sand scrubbing your feet, and watch the colours of the sunset. Or just sit on a bench, watch and observe. Absorb what’s happening. I’m sure you’ll notice a lot around you.
2. Meet and greet
The most lasting memories are often from people you meet along the road. Be open to others and their story. Just smile and be confident everyone loves to talk to you. Visit the market and start conversations with some vendor-men, meet other travelers at a couchsurf meeting, dine with locals, take a salsa class, join the (often free) sailing day at the local yachtclub, check facebook-groups and meetup of what’s happening in town.
[No I’m not tall, they are just so small :)]
3. Go local
Make an effort to understand the culture and place you are visiting. Why do they do things as they do? Engage in daily activities and learn through experience: Book local style or homestay; figure out the local sport and go watch a game or do it yourself; learn the language; take the local bus; go to the hairdresser; visit a, cheese, wine, rice, tea, rum, or fruit farm, eat at the plastic chair place where there’s no English menu; check the calendar for festivals and celebrations and see if you can join; shop at the local shop; eat with a local, learn the traditional dance, have a cooking class, hire a local guidew, or book a local tour.
4. Get lost
Get yourself in an uncomfortable situation and think ‘what’s the worse that can happen’? It’s probably not that bad. It’s often most rewarding! So stroll down a random street, get lost and enjoy discovering cool local spots and places. Step out of the tourist bubble and explore the unknown!
“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” – Paulo Coelho
To really be able to take in what’s happening in a place you literally need to move slow. Snorkel, swim, sail, walk, or cycle, instead of taking the lazy motorised option. Opt for the scenic route and engage your senses!
6. See less, be more
Spend more time being in one place instead of seeing several sights. Take in the daily life. You’ll experience a place in a deeper way. You don’t have to see something because the guidebook says so. The guidebook is just one (or a few) persons perception (s). You simply cannot visit everything that’s in it.
7. Give back
Stimulate the local economy beyond the accommodation thingy you’re staying in. Spread the benefits of your stay around town. Support different families by eating, buying and interacting with different businesses in a destination. By staying longer in a place you are also more likely to find those businesses with responsible practices. Support these initiatives! In the process, you will also have a more rewarding experience by knowing you contributed to the conservation of a place.
8. Do something you have never done before
When was the last time you did something you had never done before? Start a conversation in a foreign language, climb a mountain, swim at sunrise, play ‘Coconut jeux de boule’, adopt a coral, have a Thai massage, sleep outside, try a new type of yoga, simply try an unknown fruit, or ask the waiter for its favourite dish and just have that one. It can only make you richer!
9. Just relax and take it easy
Take a place a slow pace (but make every moment count!). Leave the watch at home and go with the flow. Have no expectations. Nothing goes as planned so just accept that, be flexible and stay calm. Missed the train? Good for you! You just created time do enjoy the surroundings.
I challenge you to don’t look at your phone, ipad, and computer for a day. I promise you the earth keeps turning, business continues. And don’t always grab the camera. yes, I’m guilty myself too. But really, the biggest joy is in the moment, not in watching the picture later at home or sharing it with your friends.
[Click image to share]
11. Be grateful
You only realize how lucky you were when something is taken away. While writing this post I’m having an ear infection and I don’t hear a thing on my left side. No worries, it also has its pro’s but it’s slightly limiting, yes! Be grateful for your abilities to enjoy all the beauty of planet earth. It’s appreciation in the little things that makes you happy and alive!
Traveling like this will not only give lasting memories to yourself, also to the local community.