Have you heard of the Slow Travel Movement?
It’s a growing trend in travel that focuses on taking things slow and immersing oneself in the local culture and environment. It’s all about quality over quantity and experiencing the journey rather than just rushing to the destination.
Ah, slow travel. There’s nothing quite like taking your time and savouring each and every moment. And for seniors, it can be especially rewarding. So why is that you might ask? Well, grab a cup of tea (or a glass of wine, in my case) and settle in because I’m about to tell you.
Let me begin by telling you about my slow travel experience(s). I have a few. That’s because my partner loves to ensure she doesn’t miss a thing. Even when we travelled as a family and stayed in vacation parks, we would be out and about every day. So much so we rarely used the facilities like the swimming pool in the resort.
That isn’t to say we weren’t interested in genuinely visiting and exploring a place. But I did want you to know my context first. While living in Europe, we often took long weekends to visit various cities. However, we never considered it a proper trip unless we spent more than a week in one location. Not precisely slow travel, but you get the drift.
As we get older, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking we’re too old to travel. However, the truth is that there is no age limit when it comes to exploring the world.
So what is slow travel?
Well, it’s about taking your time to explore a place without feeling the need to cram in as many sights and activities as possible. It’s about taking a leisurely stroll through a new city, chatting with locals, trying new foods, and taking in the scenery. It’s about choosing to travel by train or bus rather than hopping on a plane and staying in locally-owned accommodations rather than big chain hotels.
First and foremost, slow travel allows travellers to immerse themselves in their surroundings. When you’re not rushing from one tourist hotspot to the next, you can get to know a place fully. You can chat with the locals, explore hidden gems, and take time soaking in the culture. And let’s face it; when you’ve got a few decades under your belt, you tend to appreciate those experiences a lot more.
But it’s not just about the destination – it’s about the journey. Slow travel can mean taking your time getting from point A to point B. Maybe you take a leisurely train ride instead of a cramped flight. Maybe you opt for a scenic drive instead of a highway. Whatever the case, the journey is as important as the destination. And when you’re retired and don’t have to worry about returning to work, why not enjoy the ride?
Is slow travel better?
Of course, there are practical benefits to slow travel as well. For one thing, it’s often more affordable. You can stretch your travel budget further when you’re not constantly eating out and staying in fancy hotels. And when you’re on a fixed income, that can make a big difference. Plus, slow travel can be less stressful. No more running to catch a flight or worrying about making it to your next activity on time. You can relax and go with the flow, knowing you have everything in the world.
But perhaps the most significant benefit of slow travel for seniors is the sense of accomplishment it can bring. When you’re retired, it can be easy to feel like you’re not doing much with your life. But planning and executing a slow travel trip takes effort and organization. It gives you something to look forward to and work towards. And when you finally reach your destination, you can feel a sense of pride in having made it happen. It reminds you that you’re never too old to try new things and explore the world. I know that to be true of our 85-day trip around the world.
Our goal was to stay around two weeks in each location we visited. And except for a “detour” to The Golden Triangle of India, we respect our intent. If I were to redo it, I would add time because it still felt too rushed. On the other hand, when we stayed in Bangkok, we took our time exploring. We hired a driver for four days and did half the suggested itinerary.
Now, I know what you might be thinking. “But can slow travel be boring? What about all the exciting things you can do on a fast-paced trip?” And yes, I’ll admit that slow travel might not be for everyone. But that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. It can be quite the opposite. When you’re not rushing around trying to cram in as many activities as possible, you can focus on the things that matter to you. Maybe that means spending an entire day exploring a museum or sitting in a park people-watching. Maybe it means taking a cooking class or going on a nature hike. The point is that slow travel allows you to tailor your trip to your interests and preferences rather than trying to fit into a one-size-fits-all itinerary.
Imagine spending an afternoon in a café chatting with the locals, or taking a leisurely stroll through a market, sampling local foods and admiring the handicrafts. By taking your time and getting to know a place, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the culture and history of the area.
And let’s not forget about the health benefits of slow travel. Staying active and engaged is key to maintaining both physical and mental health. And what better way to do that than by exploring a new place? Whether walking around a city, hiking in the mountains, or simply strolling along a beach, slow travel gets you moving and keeps your mind engaged. Plus, it can be a great way to meet new people and make new friends. And as we all know, social connections are essential for our well-being.
As we age, our bodies may be unable to handle the rigours of a fast-paced travel itinerary. By slowing down and taking things more leisurely, seniors can avoid the exhaustion and stress of a rushed schedule. This means you can enjoy your trip more fully without worrying about burning out or missing out on anything.
Another benefit of slow travel is that it allows seniors to maintain a more relaxed pace. Not in my case, but perhaps yours.
How to slow travel
Of course, slow travel does require some planning and preparation. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your trip:
- Choose your destination carefully. While some destinations may be better suited to fast-paced travel, others are perfect for slow exploration. Look for places with plenty of opportunities for leisurely walks, quiet contemplation, and connecting with locals.
- Consider travelling during the shoulder season. You can avoid crowds and enjoy a more relaxed pace by avoiding peak travel times.
- Choose accommodations that offer plenty of space and comfort. Look for hotels or vacation rentals that offer plenty of room to spread out and relax and amenities like kitchenettes and comfortable seating areas.
- Pack smart. When travelling at a slower pace, you may not need as many changes in clothes or as many gadgets and accessories. Pack light and focus on bringing items that will help you feel comfortable and relaxed, such as comfortable shoes, a good book, and a cozy sweater.
- Be open to new experiences. Slow travel is about immersing yourself in a new culture and exploring new things. Be open to trying new foods, meeting new people, and stepping outside your comfort zone.
So why not start planning your next slow travel adventure today?