Happy New Year! I hope the last few weeks have given you the opportunity to take things slow, and fill your cups back up a little? I’ve been gratefully enjoying plenty of quiet time with loved ones, rediscovering some of life’s simple pleasures like long rambles in nature and curling up with a much-loved book in a cosy corner. Speaking of slowing down, I’ve been giving the idea of ‘slow travel’ some thought over the holidays, too. I thought it might be something you too might feel like dipping your toe into at some point this year. Because while none of us truly know exactly what the year ahead will bring, once you learn more about the concept of slow travel, I think it sounds more and more appealing.
The idea of slow travel feels especially fitting right now, with many of us unable to travel further afield to the kind of places we’d perhaps ordinarily visit. Slow travel (sometimes known as ‘immersive travel’) means there’s a focus on making real connections with the places we’re visiting – and the journeys that take us there. It’s a real departure from ‘fly and flop’ breaks, where we switch off the moment the plane hits the runway, disassociated from our surroundings, before trying to cram in dozens of activities and sights in a short space of time. Instead, slow travel means gently falling in sync with the rhythm of your surroundings and really integrating with everything from a town’s history and inhabitants, to the food, music and local culture.
Instead of collecting passport stamps and Instagram likes, slow travel encourages us to make genuine - and often much richer - connections with each place we visit, really exploring and getting to know places in more detail. Destinations tend to be closer to home, which means the journey itself becomes part of the adventure – from sleepy train rides and meandering boat excursions to road trips with friends. The nature of this kind of travel lends itself to nurturing activities that let you explore your surroundings up close, too. From cycling trips and hikes in your new habitat, to eating - and even living with - locals in tiny, family-run restaurants or B&Bs, versus big, soulless hotels you could find anywhere. It means really soaking up the essence of wherever you are and integrating yourself there, instead of taking a quick photograph at a must-see hotspot and moving on.
The idea of connecting with locations closer to home sits especially well with me, I think. As well as being kinder to the environment than trekking to far-flung locations, it can be easy to overlook those magical spots close by that we sometimes take for granted. Choosing pursuits and adventures that soothe and nourish at a gentle pace, rather than feeling in a constant state of panic to ‘visit’, ‘achieve’ and ‘tick off’ feels like a happier, more nurturing way to travel, too. And I like the idea of connecting to the places we visit in a more meaningful way, helping us to understand the way others think and see things. In a way, perhaps we don’t even need to travel at all to do it – maybe just slowing down day-to-day, wherever we are, is enough. Worth thinking about, perhaps?
Here are some other ways to embrace the benefits of going slow, day-to-day…
Plug into local playlists. Choosing music, radio or audiobooks relating to the place you visit is a helpful way to connect to your surroundings, I think. Even if it’s just a piece of music written there, or a podcast in a new language, it’s often a gentle nudge to see things from the perspective of the people who reside there.
Making IRL connections. I’m often guilty of turning to online reviews and guidebooks for inspiration on where to visit or eat, but it’s really by connecting with people in each place that you learn the hidden secrets of where you’re visiting, so I’ve discovered.
Ditching itineraries. Instead of planning ahead too much, where possible I’ve found it helpful to leave space for new experiences, allowing you to follow your intuition and the pace of each place you find yourself in. Easier said than done, I’ll admit…
Here’s to going slow in 2022, wherever you are.
Love Chloe x