Slow travel brings back the original essence of travelling: intentionally enjoying and embracing the experiences and places we visit. See below how you can adopt this philosophy and go back to being fully present on all your future trips.

Travel is one of life’s most nourishing activities. The variety and diversity all around the world offer many unique places to visit and live new and exciting experiences. The goal of travelling is to enjoy and immerse yourself on a new journey. But, many travellers have drifted away from this purpose thanks to the fast-paced society we live in. Nowadays, we forget to enjoy the moment because we’re too caught up in capturing the best photos and videos or feeling overwhelmed that we’ll return home soon. If you relate to this but want to change it, here’s where slow travel comes in.

What is Slow Travel?

You are probably wondering, what exactly is slow travel? The definition is quite simple. It means connecting in-depth with the culture, local people, food, music, traditions, and scene of the place you’re visiting. Travelling slowly is taking your time to experience all that for a more extended period without the rush of a short vacation and other tensions.

This mindset encourages travellers to interact personally with the people who live at the destination, support the local economy and become part of the place instead of just a visitor. Since a slow travel experience is usually done independently or in small groups away from very touristic zones, the experience is entirely different and in our opinion, way better than going on a travel tour.

The History Behind Slow Travel

This trend, or should we say movement, is a branch of the Slow Food Movement, which originated back in the 1980s in Italy to protest against fast food; it intended to preserve regional traditions, local farming and artisans, traditional cooking, a slow life pace. The movement’s expansion led the travel industry to develop its own way of slow enjoyment. How interesting, right?

Benefits of Slow Travel

Leaning towards slow travel is a great idea if you intend to have a meaningful experience instead of a hasty touristy one. By travelling this way, without the hassle of getting the perfect Instagram photo . Or with limited time to visit all the spots on your bucket list, you’ll be able to fully appreciate the moment and everything around you. Here are a few other reasons why you should consider a slow travel experience:

You’ll Save Money

Slow travel may be a more affordable option than the typical hotel experience. Nowadays, it’s straightforward to find reasonable prices on long-term stays at platforms such as Airbnb. Or, if you want to live like a true local, there are also homestay options available that you can find online; if you go for the last option, be sure to stay with someone trustworthy and with good references. Renting an Airbnb or staying with someone can also help you save money on food since you won’t have to eat out all the time.

No More Tourist Burnout

Visiting and doing as many things as possible with a limited amount of time can be exhausting and turn into a bad memory instead of a good one. Getting back from a trip more tired than when you left is what travellers call “tourist burnout”.

By switching from the traditional hectic tour mindset where you are only focused on checking off places from your bucket list to a slow and mindful one. You’ll be able to enjoy, grow, learn, and expand your way of thinking. There’s no need to be under pressure during a trip. You can always return another time to see the spots you missed.

New Connections

Stepping out of the hotel and high-speed travel dynamic will allow you to get to know the local world from a first-person perspective and therefore connect with local citizens and learn about the culture, history and traditions. It could even turn into new opportunities to experience regional day-to-day life more in-depth.

How to Enjoy Slow Travel the Most?

Now that you are familiar with the slow travel movement and its benefits, let’s see how you can make the most out of it.

Make a budget

If you plan in advance and save the money you need for the trip, you’ll have the freedom to do and try everything you want without stressing out about not having enough funds during or after the expedition.

Live like a local

Interacting with the people you meet at your destination, getting to know them and discovering more about the site from a different perspective will open doors to unparalleled experiences. The more you adapt, the deeper the slow travel experience will be. By living like a local, you’ll have the chance to get to know hidden gems that often go unnoticed by tourists.

Go with the flow

Being flexible can turn unexpected events and stressful situations into opportunities. Setbacks such as missing the bus, taking the wrong route, etc., can be easily handled and overcome when you’re going with the flow.

Be open and ready to grow

In addition to visiting new places, travelling can be an opportunity to discover unique aspects of yourself, gain confidence in problem-solving skills, and learn valuable lessons. The experiences one acquires by travelling like this will give you knowledge, wisdom, and a whole new outlook.

Take home the slow travel mindset

Travelling slow doesn’t have to be a philosophy you use exclusively when out of town. Being more mindful while travelling and on regular days can improve your life. You can integrate the slow travel practices into your daily life by enjoying the little things, stopping to smell the flowers, trying new things and interacting more with people around you.

What do you think?

Travelling slow sounds like a relaxing and enjoyable experience, doesn’t it? Slow travel might not be for everyone, but if you want to give it a try on your next trip, we are sure you’ll enjoy it. You can find more about this movement on our other slow travel and digital nomad blog posts or slow travel forums.

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To carry on or not to carry on – that is the big question lots of long terms travellers ask themselves. For us it was a no-brainer! We didn’t want to be weighed down (literally and figuratively) so set out to travel as light as possible. Read about how we sold ALL of our stuff here.

We’ve swapped stuff in and out and picked up – not one, but two cameras along the way.

But I think over the last 12 months we’ve finally found the sweet spot. So, what is in our bags?

Tech: this is split between the two of us

  • Laptop (1 each)
  • iPad
  • Video camera
  • Camera
  • GoPro
  • Ring light
  • External hard drive
  • Hotspots x 2
  • UE Boom/Alexa
  • Router 
  • A lot of charging cables

Clothes: we both pretty much carry the same

  • Knickers x 5
  • Swimsuit x 1
  • Socks x 3
  • T-shirts x 3 
  • Shirts/nice-ish tops x 2 
  • Shorts x 1 
  • Long pants x 1
  • Dresses x 3 (Addison doesn’t have any dresses and has extra shorts instead)
  • Long sleeve top/Henley x 1
  • Sweater/jumper x 1 
  • Jacket x 1 
  • Hat x 1
  • Sandals x 1
  • Sneakers x 1

Other bits and bobs:

  • Minimal makeup and toiletries
  • Probiotic and Pepto Bismol
  • Antibacterial wipes and sanitizer
  • Masks x 2
  • Passports and copies of visas
  • Monopoly Deal for game nights

No matter where in the world you are, just know there are 10 travel tips you can use anywhere to get the most out of your time there. Make it the best experience imaginable! Don’t look back – after some time – saying, “I wish I had done this and that”.

For this reason, we have created a checklist of things to do for an in-depth look at customs and culture even if you don’t have a lot of time.

Here is our list of 10 travel tips you can use anywhere at every destination.

Let’s go into detail. We’ll use Mexico as an example, as we’ve been living here for several months now! But really, no matter what destination, if you do these 10 things your stay will be so much richer.

1.  Learn the Language

Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to become fluent in all the languages of the countries you visit. Just enough to make a connection with the locals.

Learn to say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’. Maybe learn how to introduce yourself, and how to order a beer (or anything else). You will see that locals open up whenever you make the effort of communicating in their native tongue!

Sometimes the local people don’t speak English, and communication can be quite challenging. What to do? Break the ice in their language to build rapport, and bust out Google translate to bridge any remaining communication gaps.

Wait, can we have two number one must tries?

The restaurants at tourist destinations are often overpriced, and have all kinds of food on the menu – just not the real deal. To really get to know the local cuisine you have to visit a restaurant that only locals frequent. How do know you’ve arrived? A place where the menu is not be written in English is a good sign. Another clue would be a slight feeling of being out of your comfort zone. I can promise it will be a great experience!

“What is your favorite restaurant” or “Where do the local families go for dinner”? These are our go to  questions when we are chatting with locals. Want a fancier dining option? Just ask, ‘Which restaurant(s) do the locals go to when they want to celebrate’. We suggest you add these Q’s to your arsenal, as well, if you are keen on trying some good, and local food.

3. Visit a Local Market

Go where the locals go to buy their groceries. Look at all the things that might be different from what is sold in your country.

In Mexico, go to the market (not the supermarket) to do your groceries, the produce is fresher and (so much) better priced. You’ll also find delicious meals ready to devour at the market and get a real look at local life. Just go, and try everything.

Apprehensive? That’s fine! Remember, they, you, and I have been carried through our respective markets – sometimes kicking and screaming – by our parents. You don’t have to call them mom or dad, but I am positive you can find an AirBnB Experience or tour guide to help calm the nerves. That’s how we got our feet wet with Mercado de Abastos in Oaxaca, Mexico (a 15 block street market known for its variety of goods, and petty crime). Now we feel at ease at any market even though we stick out like a sore thumb!

4. Use Public Transportation

To get to know a city use public transportation, like the locals – busses or Tuk-Tuks or the Metro whatever the popular mode of transport is, use it.

You will have the opportunity to learn how locals move about their city and in many cases navigating a city by yourself helps you get to know the place better.

Sometimes using public transport can be scary at first, but I promise it will be a worthwhile experience. It can be quite complicated too if you don’t have a good grasp of the language (see point one) and really is an experience in itself.

For example:

The public transport in Mexico is vastly different depending on where you are but colectivos (a.k.a Combi: a kind of shared minibus or shuttle) are popular in many small-size cities. They are the perfect (and sometimes only) option for intercity travel between smaller towns. For long distance trips (major intercity or interstate travel) you can travel ADO (the Greyhound of Mexico) at a much less expensive cost than flying – best if you don’t mind slow traveling.

5. Visit a Religious Site

At every destination you visit, there are religious sites. Get to know the culture, a little better, by visiting at least one. It can be a temple, a church, a shrine, or even a religious pilgrimage site.

In Mexico, you’d have to be trying pretty hard to not make your way to a church. Wait, what? Almost every town or city is centred around a church, but each is unique – from the architecture to the religious practice. See our post here about the indigenous villages of Chiapas

6. Participate in a Cultural Activity

​​Most everyone knows, ‘When in Rome’. So, if you have the chance, wherever you are, definitely participate in anything the locals do. Why? Well, it’s best to ‘Do as the Roman’s do’, when the goal is expand your cultural horizons! You know, not only learn and grow, but to blend in.

It can be anything from learning their dancing style to participating in ceremonies like building an altar for Dia de Muertos. Or Zen meditation, tantric yoga, and/or their go to local sport. Cultural festivals will give you a glimpse into the heritage and traditions – don’t miss out!

If you only visit the tourist sites, I am sure that will be a fun trip. But we want you to repeat the traveller’s mantra, “DMO (Don’t Miss OUT)!”

Ask around. The locals will know what kind of places are really worth a visit, and which places might not be.

If you prefer a more guided option, we highly recommend an AirBnB experiences over tour companies as you’ll usually be dealing with/having your experience with a person wanting to show you their slice of the world.

For example

In Merida, Mexico Cenotes (crater filled with water) are a popular activity but if you visit the known cenote sites you are likely to be climbing over people to get in the water – ask around, and blaze the trail less taken.

8. Walk Around Aimlessly

One of the best things you can do to really get to know a place is to walk around, and see where your feet take you. If you only go from tourist attraction to tourist attraction you will miss the most important part: The people living in the place you are currently visiting.

An additional bonus: It’s completely free! Walking around is one of the best and cheapest ways to get to know a place.

Another one of our favourite things to do when we get to a new place is take a free walking tour. Try booking on Guru Walk.

9. Ask About the Daily Routine of a Local

Not only will you have a perfect reason to start a conversation with a local, you will also probably learn something about the culture of the place in the process. Just ask your host or any random person you meet in a bar or on the streets.

A wise post once noted, ‘Get them talking about themselves and their is no limit to what you can learn’ – don’t miss out!

10. Capture all Experiences in Pictures and Text

To wrap up our 10 travel tips you can use anywhere, our advice is to capture all you memories. We write a blog about our experiences, but you don’t have to. You could just write a diary, or use an App. Or fill a scrapbook.

If you do these 10 things at every destination, your trips will be awesome and memorable.  Why? Because you didn’t leave anything undone!

What other things should people do at a destination? Tell us in the comments!

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