Travelling slowly means something different to each person, in essence, it is about gaining knowledge of the local culture and people, making fewer plans and letting what will happen.
For us slow travel means having an entry point and an exit point and no fixed plans of what will happen in the middle, sure there maybe things we have noted that we would like to see but we do not let this govern our movements. If we like a town, village or country when we arrive we stay there and move on when we are ready, after all the next place may not be as good.
A year or so ago we were staying in Corniglia on the Cinque Terre in Italy, it was our third visit to this gorgeous part of the world so we did have an understanding of the area however like most visitors we walked the trail (Sentiero Azzuro) ate fresh fish straight from the ocean and admired the stunning views but mostly we sat sipping either coffee or wine at our local cafe and watched the world go by. In a few days, we had gotten to know the owners of that cafe and were sharing food, stories and prosecco. This has happened to us all across the world by us simply spending quality time in one place, mixing with the locals and generally enjoying the moment.
Over the years I have been asked by a number of travellers to cast an eye over their travel itinerary and give them my opinion. All I can say is that some itineraries I have read leave me exhausted and I haven’t even got up from my desk. I think my favourite was the one that had both the time and venue of every meal and let’s not forget the 3.5 hours allotted on the second Tuesday of the holiday for sunbaking by the pool.
Now don’t get me wrong I fully understand the urge to fit in as much one can into what is potentially a once in lifetime trip especially when you only have a week or two but I urge all travellers to:
STOP. SLOW DOWN. TAKE A BREATH. TRAVEL SLOWLY (OR MORE SLOWLY)
Roma Family Sighisoara Romania
Sound a little scary? I know most people have the need to plan their travel so here are some tips;
When planning your trip pick out the top 2 or 3 major sites / cities / towns and visit them really well. Visiting Paris? Spend an afternoon drinking champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower, take a boat ride on the Seine and pick one (and only one) of the great museums of Paris to immerse yourself in. Hire a bike from one of the many velo hiring stations and cruise the back streets of this great city stopping along the way for coffee and cake, finally find a little Bistro to dine in. Travel like this and I promise you you will come away from Paris (or wherever you are) feeling like you have had an experience of a lifetime.
GO WITH THE FLOW
Often when travelling you will meet interesting people or get to experience something you may not have thought about or planned. These can often be the highlight of a trip so to listen to other travellers and get hints from them, whether it’s a hidden restaurant, a brilliant beach or an entire city that little hint could be the experience of a lifetime.
RENT A HOLIDAY HOUSE
Consider renting an apartment or holiday home for all or part of your vacation and live like a local. By shopping in the markets, eating at the nearby restaurants and generally mixing with the locals you will get a feel of ‘real life’ and put money back into that community.
Isn’t that expensive I hear you say. In a word NO… it can be surprisingly cheap, particularly if you chose a time of year that is away from peak season.
Get more info on Holiday Rentals
SO TO SUMMARISE
Less is more – depending on how long your vacation time is pick out 2 – 3 – 4 destinations that you really want to see and do them really well.
Be flexible – be prepared to change your plans or itinerary if a great opportunity crops up.
Understand its OK not to see everything.
Rent a holiday house and live like a local