I am a fast paced person. I walk fast, talk really fast and eat really quickly. With a little encouragement and a gentle push, I have embarked on “slow travel”, with the aim of engaging in a bit of downtime and relaxation. For those who know me well, anything ‘slow’ for me is a struggle.
“Slow travel” is the antidote to fitting everything in and succumbing to #FOMO. Lumsdon and McGrath (2011) define it as “slowing down, travelling shorter distances and enriching the travel experience both en route to and at the destination”.
Slow travel contrasts the rush of conventional travel (e.g. coach tours a la Contiki and Top Deck etc) which focusses on fitting in major tourist sites and moving quickly between destinations.
There is a time and place for conventional travel and due to constraints of time and cost, sometimes, it has to be done (we tried to do it in Rome, and we missed out on the Colosseum – but more about that next time!). For those who have been on a Contiki, it’s fun as a young 20-something but I know I don’t have that level of energy or enthusiasm for coach tours anymore. I need time to recover, sleep and for personal grooming. And I don’t think I'm alone.
So, on this slow travel journey, we have found ourselves in beautiful Spello, a medieval town in Umbria, Italy. It is quiet (a complete contrast to our fast-faced Italian cities) but striking and beautiful in its own right.
We are recuperating by nesting and taking in the breathtaking view of our stone-set airbnb home, walking to the local alimentari, speaking broken Italian to the locals and preparing our own meals at home. We are immersing ourselves in the local experiences and, to some extent, living like the locals.
I have had one of my best meals on this trip so far. Picture gooey masses of truffle olive oil, truffle and pesto bruschetta, amazingly fresh and delicious antipasto. All of this local produce was obtained by foot, walking to the shops, stopping by at the cute little bakery just down the road, without the stress of crowds, time and hitting the next must-see destination.
Tips to incorporate slow travel into your next holiday:
- Geocaching – we tried to locate the nearest Geocache and explored the nearby area (also made a new furry canine friend). Geocaching is a bit of a #nerdalert activity, but a great way to explore a new area on foot.
- Enrol in a language or cooking class. Brush up on your language skills (we have been using Duolingo which has been fab!).
- Can you volunteer overseas to support a community development project in a developing country? Voluntourism is a meaningful way to travel and enrich your travel experiences by contributing to local communities.
- Minimise the number of locations/destinations you move between when abroad. Can you stay somewhere for a week or longer?
- Hire a car/bike and move around at your own pace.
- Take days off.
Have you tried slow travelling before? Are you a fast-paced person? Share your thoughts with me!
-Steph, The HP
Lumsdon, L. M. & McGrath, P. (2011). Developing a conceptual framework for slow travel: a grounded theory approach. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 19:3, 265-279, DOI: 10.1080/09669582.2010.519438