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Slow Travel: Why it's the Best Way to Explore a New Destination

Embracing a Destination vs Checking it Off a Bucket List

Slow travel is a unique way of travel it focuses on exploring a destination at a slower pace rather than through a jam-packed itinerary. Imagine being able to immerse yourself in a new place's culture and rhythms.

Photo by Christian Möller on Unsplash

Your day-to-day may closely resemble that of a local enjoying what their city or town has to offer rather than crunched for time, and aiming to visit every landmark. Pickup the local language, discover your favorite mom & pop shop who's owners recognize you, and buy your groceries for the week in your new, temporary home.

Slow travel allows you to truly connect with a place. Consider the opportunity to appreciate hidden gems you may have easily missed if you were short on time. Such an experience is one for the curious soul, leaving you enriched rather than exhausted by the end of the trip.

Slow Travel Experiences

My travel style ranges anywhere from super fast to super slow, depending on the flight deal and how much time I can take off from work. Below are a couple examples of slow (solo) travel trips I've taken over the years.

Berlin, Germany

My first solo trip was actually a slow travel trip. I booked a trip to Berlin to attend a javascript conference however I arrived there 2 weeks earlier to explore. There were some days where I set out to walk around the city or to take a day trip to a nearby city, while other days I didn't leave my Airbnb. This served as a great way to checkout the surrounding areas without getting burned out.

Consider Sandeman's Free Tours whenever you're in Europe to take a tour of the city as a first step to getting your bearings and finding cool spots to venture to later.

Salreu, Portugal

A yellow villa in Portugal's country side
Casa de Salreu (Airbnb)

In Portugal I stayed in Salreu, a suburb of Porto, right next door to an estuary. I arrived via Porto and took the train to Salreu where I stayed in a quaint, Airbnb villa, and worked remotely for a week.

Though the early mornings smelled like cow ass, it was such a pleasure staying in this beautiful cottage off the beaten path and to be able to bike around. The estuary next door rented out bikes for you to either explore the estuary bike path or to explore the town.

This location was also near Costa Nova, a place by the water known for it's striped houses. I took a break from work one day and had lunch in this small town for a few hours.

How to Plan a Slow Travel Trip

To start planning a slow travel trip, first change how you approach travel. You'll have some trips where you'll want to do everything, and some where you'll want to relax more. Consider your primary goal for the trip, then write out everything you want to do to achieve your goal.

Put each activity that you write down in these three (3) categories:

  • Must do
  • Can do if time allows
  • Can wait

While crafting your itinerary, factor in downtime and breaks. You'll consider your "Can do/wait" activities for these times. During the trip, if you're still feeling up to it, you can either complete these activities, or skip them for something else, like a nap, sitting in a park you just discovered, or attending a festival you just happened to stumble upon. This planning allows you to go with the flow instead of feeling jaded if you didn't complete everything on your itinerary.

When searching for accommodations, consider one you wouldn't mind lounging in. A cottage outside the major city can be really tranquil AND way cheaper. Explore local parks and attractions or take a bike ride to explore the countryside. Hangout at local social areas to meet locals who will introduce you to some cool places tourists wouldn't normally venture to.

Conclusion: Create Unforgettable Experiences at a Comfortable Pace

When given the opportunity, I encourage you to give slow travel a try. Don't just check a new destination off a list. Take the time to explore and savor what a new destination has to offer.  Start by choosing a city or town that sparks your curiosity, and prioritize experiences over itineraries.  Remember, slow travel is about immersing yourself in a place, becoming part of its rhythm, and discovering the hidden treasures that often get passed by.

Embrace the unexpected with an open mind and a relaxed pace, and create an unforgettable travel experience that will leave you enriched and yearning for more.

Photo by Jordan Opel on Unsplash

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As a chronic illness sufferer...

As a migraine sufferer, if I don't factor in breaks in my itinerary, my body will. Many times have had to skip or leave a tour early due to a horrific migraine.

Slow travel allows me to have a fulfilling trip without coming home and needing a vacation from my vacation.

Salreu, Portugal was a great place to stay for a slow travel trip. It was off the beaten path, and for someone who doesn't like cities, it was a great way to perform remote work in the countryside of a new country.

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