The art of slow travel

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When people hear about the concept of slow travel, they might be inclined to think that it has something to do with moving at a sluggish pace and not seeing enough of a given destination. 

Indeed, there is an element of truth to this. Those who follow the principles of slow travel often want to get a profound feel for a place, rather than just blindly hopping from one tourist attraction to another. Instead of frantically trying to see everything recommended to them on sites such as TripAdvisor, slow travellers are more likely to derive satisfaction from ‘properly’ experiencing a place; going to the Louvre is not just about seeing the Mona Lisa, but also about noticing other artefacts that the museum has to offer. 

At its core, slow travel seems to be about enriching yourself by actively connecting with the place you visit. It allows people to stop viewing tourist attractions as mere items on a bucket list and, instead, to appreciate their cultural significance.

At its core, slow travel seems to be about enriching yourself by actively connecting with the place you visit

Whereas conventional tourism is concerned largely with the final destination, slow travel is also about how you get there. That is to say, the journey is of paramount importance; what you experience on the way is just as enriching as anything else. Indeed, those who decide to take things slowly are more likely to notice details that the average tourist will glance over. 

Slow travel removes the mentality of simply getting from A to B. The whole experience is far less rushed than trips performed by cruise-goers, who have to fit all of Rome into one or two chaotic days before setting off to another destination where they will inevitably repeat the pandemonium. If conventional mass tourism focuses on being able to say that you have seen Rome, slow travel is about being able to say that you have experienced it.

It is fair to say that slow travel is often associated with a nonchalance. It allows for a large degree of autonomy and you can do what you want without being restricted by a tight itinerary. Many tourists find holidays somewhat stressful as they seek to get everything done according to their pre-made plans. A slow traveller, on the other hand, is open to change. In fact, slow travel often entails spontaneity, meaning there are often no plans to actually be changed. The beauty of such an approach to travel is that you do not know what to expect and, as such, every experience comes as a bit of a surprise. Although this sort of travel might not be for everybody, it is certainly exciting.

To get the most out of slow travel, you should be open to meeting locals and showing respect towards them and to their cultures. Slow travel is all about opening your mind and broadening your horizons. Those travellers who decide to actively engage with locals are epitomising what travel is all about — creating meaningful connections with a place and making memories that transcend ticking a site off your bucket list. 

Slow travel is all about opening your mind and broadening your horizons

My year abroad in Italy was defined by the principles of slow travel. Although I did indeed travel to many cities that the country has to offer, I did so at a very slow pace. When I first arrived, before I had made any friends, I did a few solo trips to different cities and simply wandered around them like a flâneur, allowing myself to stumble upon hidden gems without having consulted any travel guides. It was a rejuvenating experience. 

Thankfully, due to speaking to people in their native language, I was able to make Italian friends who invited me to go to a local gelateria, and other times to travel to a different part of the country. Regardless, had I not opened myself to the local people my age, I would not have experienced Italy as an Italian experiences it. 

By travelling at a slow pace and being open-minded, you allow yourself the opportunity to gain so much more from a trip than if you simply follow a tourist guidebook. At the end of the day, locals tend not to view a slow traveller as a tourist and, as such, they tend to welcome them more openly. In my experience, slow travel makes it far easier to make long-lasting friendships. Thanks to slow travel, Italy is no longer just a beautiful country, but rather a second home.

You allow yourself the opportunity to gain so much more from a trip than if you simply follow a tourist guidebook

Slow travel is a concept that is accelerating in popularity following the change in the pace of life that was caused by the pandemic. With summer just around the corner and many graduates opting to take a year of travel before beginning life in the “real world”, I implore you to submit yourselves to the unexpected, yet guaranteed beauty and peace of slow travelling. 

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