What Is Slow Travel? And How to Know if It's Right for You
by Apekshita Varshney
Slow Travel, a new form of travel, is gaining popularity among digital nomads. It rejects hurried tourism for longer stays and immersion into local culture.
In 1999, Carlo Petrini, an Italian journalist, told the TIME magazine that there was a “cultural homogenization of fast food”. The reason for his outrage? McDonald’s had opened its first Italian franchise in Rome. And as a response to the idea of fast food, Petrini established the Slow Food Association with a focus on superior food; grown locally, communally, and eaten with care. Petrini was among the first few to articulate our decline into a hastily, and perhaps thoughtlessly, lived life.
Many around the world, who recognized a lack of depth in their own overbusy lives, agreed, and slowness became a subculture. An epithet used for a new style of living: slow cities, slow journalism, slow parenting, and now, finally—slow travel.
What is Slow Travel?
Slow travel is not a return to a pre-globalized world, nor is it limiting. On the contrary, it encourages care and engagement. Instead of traveling like a tourist where you book a resort and pack your day with multiple activities, slow travel encourages you to stay-in-place for several weeks and immerse yourself in the local culture.
Slow travel can mean renting an apartment or a room for a month or longer and exploring the surroundings on a bicycle, local transportation, or foot. It means participating in local festivals and events and engaging with the place like a local would. It means going on hikes and outdoor adventures outside of the city. And doing all this slowly, making the most of each day.
People assume that digital nomads cannot incorporate slow travel in their lifestyle. Actually, digital nomading is not about hopping continents in a couple of weeks. Instead, more and more digital nomads are embracing the slow travel lifestyle which is both productive and relaxing. Here are some common myths:
Myth 1: Digital Nomads Must Constantly Be on the Move
Not true. As a digital nomad, you don’t have to, and in fact, shouldn’t, travel all of the time. Constantly being on the road can be draining and unproductive as you continuously uproot your working rhythm and find balance in newer locations.
Myth 2: Slow travel is an Extreme Lifestyle—Not for the Faint-Hearted
The Slow movement definitely expresses doubts about globalization and consumerism, but your adaptation of the philosophy doesn’t need to be so rigid. Carlo Honore, the author of In Praise Of Slow, and the current guru of the slow movement, believes it’s about balance. It’s about “Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.”
Myth 3: Slow Travel is Anti-Technology or Development
Slow travel doesn’t mean only walking to places or growing your own food. It’s a better way of living through integration with your surroundings. It rejects a certain type of obsession with speed that forces us to take “holidays” over weekends and return exhausted. But this doesn’t mean that you mustn’t benefit from the advances of the modern age. For digital nomads worldwide, the ability to immerse themselves in local cultures and situations comes only because of technological ability to work from anywhere.
What’s so Great About Slow Travel?
Many of us have enjoyed lazy summers in our childhood without particularly labeling ourselves as slow travelers. But today we’ve forgotten what it means to apply slowness to our lives—or travel. As COVID-19 normalizes work from home and work from anywhere, those seeking greener pastures for work must get on-board the slow travel movement.
Instead of manic sightseeing and hurriedly ticked lists, slow travel encapsulates calmness, connection, and consideration for the environment. And digital nomads, the most avid travelers, are embracing it in a big way.
How Do You Know if Slow Travel is Right For You?
Slow travel, then, is for those who are tired of rushing around from spot to spot, and want an antidote to modern-day burnout. On a slow travel trip, you may not see everything like a typical tourist, but you will be more present and relaxed, and benefit from the following:
1. An Enhanced Social Circle
When there’s suddenly no hurry to do everything that a travelogue asked you to, you start paying attention to people around. Slow travel can enhance your social circle by encouraging you to engage more with the communities while traveling, and network with other like-minded people and nomads.
2. It’s Relaxing and Not Expensive
Slow travel rejects ideas of traditional tourism. So no more rushing to take flights to explore different destinations and returning home exhausted. But staying in one place for several weeks. In doing so, you explore an area on your own terms, decide what you want and don’t want to engage with, and feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
3. It’s Much Less Expensive
It is a less expensive way of nomad-ing. Slow traveling is comparatively cheaper where you stay in one place and avoid spending extra money on flights, trains, and constantly moving to new places. Apart from transportation costs, long-term rentals are often cheaper and more convenient. Many also come with kitchenettes that can help you save money in the long-term.
4. You Can Get to Know a Place Better
How many times have you traveled to places and have forgotten the history, important characters, or landmarks while narrating stories to your friends? Slow Travel can help you forge stronger connections with destinations. When you spend more time staying at one place and meeting the locals, shopping in the local markets, and picking up your favorite hot beverages from the nearby cafes, you learn more and retain more.
5. It’s Beneficial for the Environment
Another obvious advantage of slow travel is how much better it is for the environment than other types of travel. When you are not rushed, taking trains and enjoying the scenery on the way doesn’t seem like a bad option. And as you spend more time in a particular spot, the desire to get on a plane to a newer destination recedes and the keenness to experience, connect and belong is rekindled to reinforce the joys of slow traveling.
6. You Can Create Routines for Stability
When you make the decision to become a digital nomad, you end up sacrificing some level of stability for freedom. Slow travel can help you can find a nice balance of both.
Staying in one location for one month or more makes it easier to settle into a routine, so you can create stability wherever you might be in the world. It also allows you plenty of time to adjust to the timezone you’re in, and figure out how to work optimally with your team or clients. It gives you a chance to regroup and get into a rhythm with your work and personal life, which is invaluable to your emotional (and physical) wellbeing.
Where to next? Find flexible month-to-month rentals across the globe on Anyplace.
Apekshita is a journalist, creative writer and content strategist. She is passionate about cities, urban life and remote work. On the move since 2018, Apekshita has explored 15+ cities in India while working as a digital nomad.