Who has never dreamed of taking a long-term trip or to just make the yearly holidays last for a few more days?
Because, it’s not worth it really unless you take a few weeks to enjoy your time abroad, am I right? Or so you think!
Let’s be honest, between work, money, family, and time that flies at the speed of light, there isn’t much room left for long travels and not everybody can afford it!
Therefore, after a year of hard work in the office, most of us will take 2 to 3 weeks of well-deserved vacations (abroad or closer to home). You want to “see it all” and “do it all”, and you’ll try to fit in as many tourist attractions as you can in that short period of time.
Only to come back home with a memory card full of pictures but leaving you feeling completely empty. On top of that, you have to jump right back into work, making you feel even less motivated(energized).
So, how do you travel slowly within a short period of time?
As you read the words « Slow Travel », you’re probably thinking that there isn’t enough time to really discover a new destination over the course of a couple of weeks, or even less.
What if I told you it’s possible to “slow travel” in as little as 3 days? I know what you’ll say: you’ll protest that it would be a waste of time to “slow travel” when you’re only going away for a few days.
I know, I know, I can already hear you chime in “Don’t be ridiculous!”. Well let me tell you this: no, it is not as ridiculous as it sounds! As unbelievable as it seems, the words “slow” and “travel” actually make a lot of sense together.
Slow traveling isn’t about covering a whole country in two weeks or walking through every street of a city, it’s about taking the time to truly experience another culture and environment, to mingle with the locals and do as the Romans do.
Whether you’re leaving for 3 days or 6 months, you can still “slow travel”. The key word here is “organisation”!
My personal motto: quality prevails over quantity!
And here’s how to do it with my 4 methods to master the art of “slow traveling”:
Method n°1: Focus on one specific spot.
I’ll never repeat this enough: every trip requires some level of organisation! Don’t rely on one source to prepare your trip.
You have more than one option at hand such as books, videos, blogs, forums, news articles, … Keep an open mind! Try to think of the one thing you want to see the most during your travel. Which means that doing some research is essential.
You will also be able to make a selection of the few places that you don’t want to miss out on. It’s also a good way to learn more about your destination (culture, traditions, places to see and the ones to avoid, …). That’s the beginning of your adventure right there, even before you leave. Once your decision is made, you should start calculating your travel times between locations (whether it’s two different cities or two different places in the same city). It would be a shame to waste most of your time in transport. Don’t forget to look up your travel options: you’ll save time and energy and won’t have to be chasing the next bus, metro, train.
One last thing: account for some time to go and wander off. There’s always something unexpected to see: a local farmer’s market, an exhibition, street music performances, …
Traveling is like cooking: add too many ingredients and everything loses its flavour. Sometimes you need to try each one on their own to get a well-balanced recipe!
Method n°2: Take part in events/Do some volunteering.
As you will know, by now I’m a very sensitive person! Events for me are highly emotional and that’s what I love about them. To me it’s the best way to immerse yourself in a new place and make long lasting memories.
I’ve had the chance to experience it first hand on several occasions when I participated in both local and international events.
To only name a few: there was an improvised live concert in an Irish pub, a national soccer game in Sydney, a wrestling match in Senegal, a hot-air balloon festival at sunrise. And finally, the most memorable of all: the Foofighters concert in Melbourne!
The atmosphere is always amazing and they’re filled with a unique energy that gives you intense emotions. You’re living that particular moment with everyone around you, like one big family!
Method n°3: Think local.
Let’s be clear, I don’t only mean “eat local” (which is a big part of traveling for us food lovers), but what I really want to say is: go talk to the people who live there, meet the locals!
Locals always have a story to tell, good advice to share, know the places to be.
Through those exchanges you will only come out with a broader vision, learning from the cultural differences that make us so unique.
And that’s when traveling becomes a truly enriching experience! Communication is the key to understanding and accepting our differences.
We have so much to bring to each other, on a cultural level or not, and those exchanges are most rewarding.
Method n°4: Enjoy the moment.
Probably the number one rule to keep in mind when you’re traveling!
In a highly consumerist, hyper connected world, where everything is replaceable and immediate, we tend to forget to slow down and appreciate what really matters: the present, right here, right now!
Put down your camera, your phone, forget about social medias and simply look around you! Then close your eyes and breathe in deeply.
Whether the temperatures are below zero or there’s a scorching heat, come rain or shine, take in the moment; be conscious of what happens around you; listen to the hustle and bustle of the city or simply enjoy the peacefulness of nature. Sit down and take a look at the everyday life happening before you.
I love to do this not only when I’m abroad but also at home, in the town where I’ve lived since I was a kid.
Go on and try it for yourself, you will gain a different perspective on your own city and the people who live there!
In the end, traveling slowly can be done in a minute.
One single minute without reading, talking, being on your phone, … A minute of absolute inner silence. Raise your eyes and observe.