By Edd and Cynthia Staton
Slow travel emphasizes staying in one place long enough to connect with the local people, culture, food and music.
This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org.
Travel for most of us falls into two categories: vacations and trips.
Vacations are when daily life has you stressed to the max, so you arrive at your destination to relax and do as little as possible the entire time you’re there.
Trips are when you think you may be at a special place only once in your life, so you rush around trying to cram in as many activities, excursions and photo ops as possible.
Each approach comes with its own problems. Vacationers often spend the first few days of their time off unwinding and the last few days thinking about the problems waiting for their return. People on comprehensive, don’t-miss-anything trips can be so exhausted by the last day that they feel they need a vacation.
What is slow travel?
The good news is there’s a new form of travel popular among the 50-plus set that hits a happy medium between these two extremes. It’s called slow travel.
Inspired by the slow food movement that began in Italy in the 1980s as a reaction to the proliferation of fast food restaurants, slow travel started, well, slowly. It has accelerated significantly since the COVID pandemic turned travel upside down and Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, the world’s first hotel school, expects it to grow 10% a year.
Slow travel emphasizes staying in one place long enough to personally connect with the local people, culture, food and even music. While purists advocate avoiding touristy spots in favor of locations more off the beaten path, there are no hard and fast rules. You decide where, how, and for what period of time to apply these basic principles:
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Why to consider slow travel
How to be a slow traveler
As full-time travelers for the past several years, we’ve practiced slow travel without knowing it was a “thing.” The benefits were evident during a recent European visit when we spent two weeks each in Lisbon, Madrid, Bordeaux and Paris.
A more leisurely pace in these popular cities with tons of attractions allowed us to take in all the sights, randomly wander through interesting neighborhoods, and guiltlessly do nothing on days we needed to rest. Sometimes we planned our own outings, but when it made more sense, we didn’t hesitate to book a guided excursion. Purists we are not!
If slow travel sounds intriguing, here are some ideas to get you started:
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A different approach
Twenty years ago “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” sounded like a great idea. However, many of us have concluded that passport stamp collecting is too exhausting a hobby to continue pursuing.
Slow travel focuses more on custom designing the journey. It’s truly a metaphor for a different approach to life: Take your time. Be present. Connect to your surroundings. Practice environmental consciousness. Create meaningful moments.
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If you are ready to make your future travel adventures more memorable, relaxed and enjoyable, join us on the road slow traveled.
Edd and Cynthia Staton write about retirement, expat living and health and wellness. They are authors of three bestselling books and creators of Retirement Reimagined!, an online program to help people considering the retirement option of moving abroad. Visit them at eddandcynthia.com.
This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org, (c)2023 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.
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