As I mature (which is a nice way to say, get older), my approach to travelling is changing. In my early 20’s, I had a checklist of places to visit. Before the term bucket list was coined and the creation of Pinterest, I literally had a world map on my wall that I would stick a push-pin into after visiting each city.
I had a magnificent job that sent me to work in the United Kingdom for almost a year, twice! Travel was forever changed for me. Sure, I used London as my home base to travel Europe on the weekends, but the push-pin strategy never satisfied my wanderlust. I collected many pins, but it was not enough.
Even a few days in a city is only long enough for me to decide what I need to do and see on my next visit, and discover the hidden gems from locals. My first visit to Paris was a mere 3 days, barely enough time to see the top 5 tourist attractions (Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Louve, Notre Dame, and Champs Elysees) and very little else (and there is so much more to see). I felt rushed. I felt like a tacky American tourist – maybe, because I was.
After a few more hurried trips, I realized that break-neck speed of travel is exhausting. I do not want to spend more time in transit than exploring. In the last decade, I started to slow down, put down the guide book, and talk to the locals. Simple curiosity and a good attitude have resulted in invitations to private country estates, weekends in sleepy little villages, multiple wedding receptions around the world, cheering with the fans for local amateur sports teams, and so much more off the beaten path activities. I am simply not satisfied by sheer number of cities visited, I want to connect and savor the destination.
Granted, slow travel is a luxury. Not everyone can spend weeks at a vacation destination. 10 days in Cancun enabled me to complete my Scuba certification start to finish, with a couple extra dives at the end. Weekend trips are focused on a few activities at a destination, and almost always followed up with a longer visit to see more.
There can be some real cost savings to slow travel. Renting a house (VRBO) for a week or more can be significantly less expensive than comparable hotel for the same time frame. Better deals for week (or more) car rentals than a few days. I attempt to be frugal in my own way, where I get the best value for as close to luxury as I can manage. I like First Class air travel and 5 star luxury resorts, and those are more obtainable for a few cross country or international flights a year. Short deliberate “hops” are easier physically and financially within the Caribbean (or any concentrated area of travel focus).
Slow travel allows me to prioritize events and activates based on my research, then plan without the constraints of a defined itinerary. After speaking to locals, or discovering a new treasure, we can easily move on a new plan, in a constant fluid motion of travel. Flexibility is a wonderful luxury for me when travelling, adapting to weather and whim without stress that we missed out on a planned activity.
The best part about slow travel is feeling rejuvenated. I am actually rested throughout my travels and ready to attack the next challenge, free from travel fatigue and exhaustion of hurried travel.
Try it! Slow down and savor the richness of your destination.