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The Art of Slow Travel: A Minimalist’s Guide

The Art of Slow Travel: A Minimalist’s Guide

Planning your next travel adventure or just looking for a more intentional way to experience the world? In this guest article from Mia Barnes at Body+Mind magazine, we explore the art of slow travel.

For many minimalists, travelling is more than taking Instagram-worthy pictures — it’s about immersing yourself in a place’s essence. Instead of rushing from one location to another, why not take the time to forge social connections or live like a local? Discover this travelling mindset and its principles, as well as how to practice it on your next trip.

WHAT IS SLOW TRAVEL?

Many individuals fill their travel schedules with exciting activities, which often leads to burnout. This method is also often more expensive and leaves no room for surprises. This is where slow travel comes in. As its name suggests, the concept refers to allowing yourself and the world to move slower so you can live in the moment.

It hinges on the idea that a trip should focus on connection to the local community, food, cultures and environment. Slow travelling isn’t about ticking boxes — it’s all about losing yourself in experiences.

Editor’s Note: Mia’s article reflects my current travel ideas. We recently had a week away down by the sea. I didn’t plan any day trips to see the local sites, or drag the kids around on educational visits to nearby places of historical interest – much to their delight! We ate ice cream on the beach, found a local fish restaurant recommended by the locals, and sat on the sand listening to the waves washing in and out whilst the kids explored the rockpools and kicked around a football. A slow holiday of family and fun and an itinerary intentionally empty and whimsical. It just goes to show that travel doesn’t have to be big and costly to be memorable. Welcome to the art of slow travel!

The art of slow travel

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SLOW TRAVEL?

Slow travel is becoming an increasingly popular travel style, and it is estimated to grow at a 10% annual growth rate due to its benefits.

1. Less Stress

A fast-paced trip can be exhausting, leaving little to no time for relaxation. Slow travel allows you to appreciate the beauty of each passing moment. Instead of racing to visit all travel spots, this mindset will enable you to slip into the pace of the local culture, even if you’re travelling for just a few days.

2. Improved Physical and Mental Well-Being

Slow travel positively impacts overall wellness. Engaging in sustainable activities like walking, biking, and hiking can prevent stress and burnout. These activities are excellent exercises that can improve heart health.

3. Better Understanding of the World

Ask any slow traveller what the highlight of their trip is, and they’ll probably tell you it’s the conversations they had with locals. They find sharing stories and experiences with people much more rewarding than visiting tourist hotspots. Slowing down allows you to build meaningful connections with locals and fellow travellers, which can lead to lasting friendships.

Leisurely exploring a destination offers more time to understand the area’s history, increasing your appreciation of cultures and the environment. Think of visiting a museum not to take photos but to immerse yourself in the art.

4. Growth Opportunities

One of the best things about slow travel is it motivates you to venture out of your comfort zone. As you wander, you become more adaptable to new environments and customs. For instance, you might take a bed in a shared room or try unfamiliar cuisine. These new experiences can boost your growth and self-confidence, even if you’re just vacationing for a few days.

5. More Savings

You’ll enjoy slow travel if you’re a budget-conscious minimalist. Five-star hotels and big-name restaurants are pricier and don’t offer the same charm as a local spot. Finding homestay and Airbnb options could help you save money on costly hotel fees. Choose an accommodation with a kitchen so you can cook your meals.

The art of slow travel

TIPS FOR SLOW TRAVELLING

Discover the basic principles of the slow travel mindset:

1. Travel Without a Well-Structured Plan

This might seem intimidating if you haven’t tried it before. However, travelling with a flexible itinerary or no plans at all allows you to live in the moment and adjust your day as you go. For example, you might come across a beautiful park nearby and spend the entire afternoon there with your family. This tactic will encourage you to interact with locals and discover lesser-known sites.

If you can’t leave without a plan, make time for relaxation and spontaneous trips. This flexibility often leads to the most unforgettable travel experiences. It also allows you to be adaptable to unforeseen situations, such as weather changes. Instead of getting disappointed over disrupted plans, think of them as part of your adventure.

2. Visit Off-the-Beaten Paths

Explore unique destinations in your quest for a deeper understanding of the world. Instead of flying to the other side of the world, consider visiting places within your own country that allow for slow travel. Here are some destination ideas that might appeal to you:

  • Portland Head Lighthouse: This area is surrounded by 90-acre Fort Williams Park, where you can fly a kite, explore the rocky beach and have a picnic for free. The Lighthouse is the oldest original lighthouse in Maine. Drop by the Bite Into Maine to indulge in local lobster rolls.
  • Sedona, Arizona: Admire the stunning rock formations and landscapes of Sedona. Engage in outdoor activities like hiking and stargazing. Its beauty will surely leave you rejuvenated.
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: This city is an amazing mix of Indigenous cultures, mid-century beauty and well-curated museums. One of the best ways to live like a local is to enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, fishing and hiking. You can also meet interesting people from different cultures in the Historic Old Town.

3. Live Like a Local

Make sure to try foods unique to your destination. Use online platforms like TripAdvisor, Google Maps and Yelp to search for nearby restaurants, markets and food trucks. Know where locals dine and experience it for yourself.

Local markets are excellent places to support independent artists and find unique items. If you’re looking for a souvenir, find something made by the shop owner. A short conversation with an artist could become a learning opportunity and potentially a traditional meal with their family where you can make even more connections.

4. Choose Sustainable Travel

Choose public transportation or carpool over air travel if possible. Sustainable travel options can help reduce your carbon footprint while giving you plenty of opportunities to enjoy more of the scenery. Instead of taking that one-hour flight, ride a train and enjoy the landscapes while sipping coffee. That way, you can better understand and appreciate the local environment.

Riding a bike is another way to reduce your carbon footprint while getting exercise. It can be a fun and active way to see all the in-between spots locals visit. Remember to review the road rules first before venturing out.

5. Pack Light

Heavy luggage requires more fuel when traveling by plane, bus or car. Only bring essentials to make travel more convenient and reduce your carbon footprint. Choose a lightweight suitcase, bring clothing you can wear often and put your toiletries in small, reusable containers.

Doing laundry is also part of travelling light. Practice washing your clothes in a sink to see how long they take to dry. Bring one or two pairs of multipurpose footwear. Consider packing light trail-running shoes for maximum comfort. Make sure your shoes are comfortable to reduce blisters and injuries.

6. Participate in Local Events

Research the local customs and events before you arrive. This will help you blend in and embrace the local ambience more easily. Including unique celebrations in your itinerary will allow you to experience new traditions, making your adventure more fulfilling.

The art of slow travel

TRAVEL INTENTIONALLY

Minimalism is about prioritising what truly matters to you. Apply the same concept when you explore the world by traveling more intentionally. When you next go on a trip, remember to follow these tips and focus on experiences that enable you to immerse yourself in the destination.

FURTHER RESOURCES

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mia Barnes is a freelance writer and researcher with a passion for mental wellness and healthy living. Mia Barnes is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the online health publication, Body+Mind magazine.