The more I travel, the slower I go. On my round-the-world trip, I went from bouncing between cities sometimes with only a few days in each, to spending weeks and even full months in some places. There are tons of posts on the internet professing the benefits of slow travel. Pacing yourself doesn’t wear down your immune system, making slow travel better for your health. It keeps you from getting distracted and becoming more vulnerable to scams. Plus, by affording yourself time to fully experience your surroundings, slow travel is simply more enjoyable. Below are three practical ways to incorporate slow travel into a trip of any length.
Stick to one destination
The easiest solution to avoid traveling too fast is to spend more time in fewer destinations. Instead of hopping from city to city on a whirlwind tour, choose just one or two locations to base yourself for a week. If the idea of visiting only one or two places per trip sends your FOMO into overdrive consider this: when you leave a city after just one day, you’re missing out on a lot that place has to offer. When you slow down and focus on one place at a time, you can experience each one much more fully.
One of my favorite examples is Athens. Many people spend just one to three days in Athens. That gives you time to see the Acropolis and maybe go shopping or out for drinks in the touristy Plaka district. Those are certainly must-dos in Athens, but if you extend your stay to a week you can also explore the lesser known ruins around the city, spend a day in the peaceful National Gardens, and take a tour of the city’s best street art.
Schedule just one activity per day
There is no better way to stress yourself out on vacation than to try and stick to an itinerary planned to the minute. A jam-packed itinerary leaves no margin for error. What happens if you get lost, you find you need to run to the store for toothpaste, or any other number of things goes wrong? Slow travel means giving yourself time for hiccups, so when something goes wrong it doesn’t ruin your trip. Give yourself more flexibility by planning just one or two major activities per day.
I once sketched out an all-day DIY walking tour of the South Kensington neighborhood in London and once I set foot in the Natural History Museum, I totally regretted planning so much else. One hour in that museum was not nearly enough and I could have happily spent all day there.
Set aside time to relax
Slow travel isn’t just good for practical reasons. It can also open you up to new and unexpected experiences you simply can’t plan to include on your itinerary.
When I was in Vienna, the weather was gorgeous on a Sunday afternoon and with so many attractions closed, I decided to settle in at Cafe Demel for a while. Cafe culture is a big part of life in Vienna, so I was already getting a more authentic experience of the city than any museum could have afforded me. But that choice really paid off when I spotted a group of protesters marching down the street. At the time, Russia was threatening an invasion of Ukraine, and tensions were high throughout Eastern Europe. So many people remember what it was like to live under communism and Ukraine felt like the first domino to fall that would eventually knock them back behind the Iron Curtain. Seeing this march past a cafe beneath the turquoise dome of the Hofburg Palace was an incredible reminder we travel in a moment in time, and I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t slowed down for a few hours.
Set aside a little time each day to relax at a cafe, on the beach, in your hostel common room — wherever it is you would enjoy having some downtime.
How do you make sure your trips are well-paced? Which destinations have you enjoyed slow travel in? Tell me in the comments!