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Embrace slow travel in a fast-paced world

Embrace slow travel in a fast-paced world

Slow travel involves a more leisurely and mindful approach to travel compared to traditional, fast-paced tourism
A man laying down and watching the scenery in a relaxed way
Representational image | Shutterstock

Imagine that you have finally had the opportunity to temporarily leave behind your routine and set off for a new location.

When envisioning your vacation, do you picture yourself rushing through a crowded schedule, attempting to visit numerous tourist attractions and squeezing in as many destinations as possible within a limited time frame? Or do you imagine strolling leisurely through the streets, savouring the scents, sights, and sounds, truly absorbing the essence of the destination? If the latter scenario appeals to you more, then you align with the philosophy of slow travel.

What is slow travel?

Based on research conducted by Allison Caffyn, a United Kingdom-based researcher and tourism consultant, slow travel involves prioritising fewer but more significant experiences instead of rushing to complete an extensive checklist.

The study further suggests that by adopting a slower approach, travellers can fully engage with the local culture, heritage, and traditions.

“It involves a more leisurely and mindful approach to travel compared to traditional, fast-paced tourism,” says Mitesh Jain, founder and chief travel psychologist at Mandeha, an organisation dedicated to travel psychology and mental health.

Unveiling hidden depths

Slow travel encourages a more immersive, mindful, and respectful approach to exploring new destinations. “By taking the time to understand and engage with the local culture, travellers can develop a profound appreciation for the places they visit and the diverse cultures they encounter,” says Jain.

Jain further lists how slow travel helps people develop a deeper appreciation for the places they visit and the cultures they encounter.

  • Cultural immersion: Slow travel fosters understanding of local traditions and values by engaging with locals, community activities, and hidden gems. It enhances appreciation beyond tourist hotspots.
  • Meaningful connections and sustainability: It cultivates relationships, cultural understanding, and supports local businesses. Moreover, it promotes sustainable practices and contributes to heritage preservation.
  • Enriching learning and reflection: Slow travel offers diverse learning experiences like language, cooking, and art. It allows time for volunteering and reflection, deepening the connection to cultural, historical, and natural wonders.

“For me personally, it encouraged me to resist the urge to tick off tourist attractions hastily and instead engage in a more profound exploration,” says Chaitrika Reddy, co-owner of Romani House, a homestay in Kalga, Himachal Pradesh.

By adopting a slower pace, she now understands and appreciates the nuances of a place, is able to uncover hidden gems, and connect with its culture, people, and natural surroundings. “So, when I leave a place, it feels like leaving home albeit I had a hundred places to call home,” she says.

A change of pace

Ratan Crasta, a 25-year-old HR professional from Bengaluru, used to be enthusiastic to cover as much ground as possible when travelling to a new place. “I used to feel like I have to do it all because I did not want to feel like I left something out,” he says.

However, his perspective changed when he got to travel with a group that took the slow travel approach. “I realised that because I was trying to do all of it, I was not really able to do any of it properly,” says Crasta.

The hurried pace, the packed itinerary, and the constant fear of missing out on something made his travel experience more tiresome than relaxing.

“Once I experienced this new way of travelling, I found that I could form more personal and meaningful memories of the place I was travelling to. Sometimes, the urge to ‘do it all’ still arises, but I consciously choose to adopt a slower pace instead,” he adds.

Navigating the roadblocks

While the concept of slow travelling looks fascinating, it can come with its own challenges  like the fear of missing out or strategising and planning every bit.

Jain further lists out a few challenges people face while they try slow travelling.

  • Fear of missing out (FOMO): One of the main challenges is the fear of missing out on popular attractions or experiences. To overcome this, remind yourself that quality experiences often come from immersing yourself in a few places rather than trying to see everything.
  • Time Constraints: Many travellers face limited vacation time or specific travel schedules. To work around this challenge, consider planning longer trips or selecting destinations that are near. Focus on a few key places and allocate more time to each, ensuring you have ample opportunities to slow down and savour the experiences.
  • Strict and overpacked itineraries: Break free from the pressure of strict itineraries and overpacking by adopting a flexible mindset. Prioritise quality experiences over a packed schedule. Allow for spontaneity and explore unexpected detours.
  • Lack of patience: Adjusting to a slower travel pace and dealing with impatience can be challenging. However, by reframing your mindset and practising mindfulness, you can embrace the journey as an adventure. Take the opportunity to observe, connect, and reflect. By staying present and focusing on the benefits of slow travel, you will find serenity and a deeper connection to your destination.

Tips and tricks for slow travel

Jain suggests a few tips and tricks for one’s itinerary planning.

  • Set realistic time frames: Allow yourself sufficient time in each destination to fully immerse yourself in the local culture and experiences. Avoid cramming too many places into a limited time frame.
  • Choose destinations with depth: Select destinations that offer a rich cultural heritage, diverse landscapes, and a variety of experiences. Look for places where you can engage with the local community, delve into history and traditions, and have opportunities for personal growth. Consider combining popular destinations with lesser-known gems to strike a balance between exploration and authenticity.
  • Research and prioritise points of interest: Conduct thorough research to identify attractions, activities, and events that align with your interests. Create a list of must-visit places and experiences to guide your itinerary.
  • Engage locally: Volunteer, join workshops, or participate in community-based tourism to gain insights and broaden your perspective. Choose local accommodations and slow transportation options like trains or boats to immerse yourself in the destination’s culture.
  • Embrace slow food experiences: Food is an integral part of culture, and exploring local cuisine can be a transformative experience. Seek out traditional food markets, local eateries, and cooking classes to learn about the local gastronomy. Savour meals, engage in conversations with food vendors, and discover the stories behind the dishes.
  • Disconnect from technology: Minimise your reliance on technology and social media during your travels. Instead, be fully present in the moment.

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