Simply put, slow traveling is choosing to be fully present in your travel experience. Whether it’s living in a small town for a month or strolling in a museum for a day the goal is to relax and enjoy the experience– but choosing a destination can be overwhelming.
With almost 3 years of exclusive slow traveling under our belts, we have come up with an easy way to choose your next slow travel town. We have found these 6 characteristics are a great way to measure whether a place is right for you.
We really think small towns are the best for slow travel. In slow travel, living like a local and feeling like a local is very important. Quaint little towns fit that bill perfectly.
Some of the best slow travel destinations are towns and villages with populations of less than 10,000 people. Any more than that, it starts to lose its sense of community and the small town feeling. We love getting away from the big touristy areas and finding places seemingly ‘untouched’ by over-tourism.
And yes we do check the population count before we decide on a destination. It really does make a difference in your experience.
A big part of slow traveling for many is a vehicle. It gives you the flexibility to go where you want when you want.
Drivability is how easy it is to get to the main roads. We always look for a place with quick access to the main thoroughfare. That means when we hop in a car, in 10-15 minutes we are going at least 45-50 miles per hour.
Once we stayed in a place that took 30 minutes down a single track road just to get to the main street. That can get really old, really fast, and is a huge waste of resources. Now we check the map before we book and make sure we are close to some kind of highway.
3. Sense of community
Living like a local or being a part of a community is one of the major tenets of slow travel. It gives you the best opportunity to make human connections and travel experiences you will never forget.
We’ve met so many wonderful people slow traveling because we are not rushing out of town trying to see every monument and tourist site known to mankind.
When you are looking for a place, make sure it has things to do locally like a cooking class, a corner pub, a community event, an outdoor market, a coffee place or a cute cafe, etc.
A great resource is the town’s online calendar. We’ve booked many a place based on a single event and had a fantastic time!
4. Proximity to other areas
The difference between drivability and proximity to other areas is how close the sights and things are to your accommodations.
For example, say there is a castle, ruins, and a monument you are dying to visit– it makes no sense to stay 4 hours away from any of them.
Who wants to spend the whole day driving to a place, only to spend 30 minutes there, just to turn around and drive right back? We certainly don’t.
Instead, try to find a ‘home base’ right in the middle. We have found 2 hours to a place and back, is the perfect amount of time.
You may need to cut a few items out of your itinerary to make it work, but not the end of the world, right? It just means more quality time at the places you do see!
5. Suitable accommodations
When I mean suitable, I mean fits your type of lifestyle. Maybe it’s a hotel, a Bed and Breakfast, a hostel, or whatever. We have found that Airbnb’s fit our slow travel lifestyle because we cook–which you can read why here , also to wash our own clothes.
So for us, it means a well-stocked kitchen and washer/dryer. We have a better travel experience when we stay in a place we’re happy with.
Slow travel doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable or compromise, on the contrary, you should always feel stress-free and happy. So if the town doesn’t have the right place for you, then for goodness sakes don’t stay there!
There are a gazillion other places in the world to visit–don’t let FOMO (fear of missing out), decide your travel fate.
6. Local Resources
Local resources for us means how close is the local grocery store? For you, it could mean something completely different, like drugstores, shops, bookstores, hairdressers, movie theaters…whatever. Whatever it looks like for you, just make sure to find a destination that has all the resources you might need close by.
This way you can say, “Howdy” to your neighbors as you are walking down the street to the local bookstore!
Alright, that’s the end of the journey folks. Hopefully, this guide has done two things. First, convince you to slow travel, and second, make it easier for you to pick your next slow travel destination.