There’s a common misconception that you have to devote a crazy amount of time to a destination to call it slow travel. That couldn’t be furthest from the truth.
You can slow travel in a week, a day, a year or even a few hours. The only requirement is that you are fully immersed, blissfully happy, not rushed, and stress-free. Sounds like a yoga class doesn’t it? It’s pretty darn close. Same goals, different process.
There are no country counts or bucket lists in slow travel. It’s not a competition and no one is keeping score. How you decide to spend your time is your business.
I always say, if two people go to Paris for 24 hours, and one spends a leisurely day at the Louvre, while the other has a long list of tourist sites to check off, either way, they both can say they visited Paris. What they chose to do and how they chose to do it is the only difference.
So you want to slow travel and you only have a day, just follow these 4 steps:
1. Be Fully-Immersed In Your Experience
Probably the most important requirement for slow traveling in any amount of time is to be fully immersed in your experience. That means clear your head of all the mental and physical distractions and be present in the situation. Whether it’s a cooking class, a museum, or a tour– you need to be mentally there.
For example, if you choose to visit a museum for the day, study the art, take the time to read the signs and labels. Rent the audio guide and really listen and absorb the information. Hit all parts of the museum, maybe even take a lunch break in between.
Don’t feel like running around? Try people watching. We could do that for hours. Find a nice sidewalk cafe, order a glass of wine, a nice lunch, relax and watch the world go by. You can learn so much about a city by observing the people.
A tour is another great adventure. Make sure it’s a tour with some kind of audio. Tours are a great way to learn the history of a place, see the highlights, all the while relaxing in your seat. There is no rule you have to get off the bus at the stops either, we have been known to go a few ’rounds’ on the hop off, hop on bus tours.
Bottom line, just be present and stop worrying about the checklists!
2. Make Sure You Chose Something That Makes You Happy
Isn’t the goal in life to be happy? So why should travel be any different? Seek out the experiences that make you happy. If that means getting off the plane and sitting by the pool with a good book for 8 hours, then do it! Remember in slow travel there is no competition.
Here’s an example for you. Once we were in St. Petersburg, Russia on a group tour and everyone was supposed to go to the Hermitage Museum before it opened to the public, a once in a lifetime experience.
We decided to skip it because we were tired. Instead, we spent a relaxing day wandering around St. Petersburg. You would have thought we said we wanted to run nude through the Kremlin. They couldn’t believe we would skip the world-famous Hermitage.
Talk about bliss–we walked through the gorgeous park, strolled the streets, found some beautiful alleys, a book store, a few buskers… It was pure happiness and we have absolutely no regrets how we spent our day in St. Petersburg.
3. It’s Not A Race So Slow Down
Remember you are not a contestant on the Amazing Race . Hopping off a plane and racing to your first tourist attraction because you only have 24 hours makes absolutely no sense. I always see the guides, “How To Spend 18 hours in _____”. It usually gives a long laundry list of places you should rush to because you have a short amount of time.
And why is that? It’s called F.O.M.O ( Fear Of Missing Out) –it’s a horrible travel disease. Social media is the instigator of that problem and it’s a shame because people are visiting some beautiful and historic places and have no clue what they’ve seen.
You just can’t see more than a few things well, especially when you have only 24 hours to do it. Not unless you plan to ‘tap it’ then run. Why not change your mindset and try it the slow travel way? Actually, limit yourself to one or two activities a day so you can remember what you saw and maybe even learn something in the process.
4. No More ‘Vacation From the Vacation’ Syndrome
I remember our pre slow travel days. We would come home mentally and physically exhausted because we were rushing around to every tourist site and destination we could find. We were trying to get all the boxes checked on the bucket list. We would need a ‘vacation from our vacation’ when we got home. Have you been guilty of that too?
Well, stop the insanity folks. Make a change in the way you travel. Whether it’s one day or 10 days, vow to come home stress-free. Stop competing with yourself or anyone else because it’s not a contest.
Only see the places and do the things that make you happy. If you miss the Statue of Liberty but saw the World Trade Center and it made you happy, then who cares. Lady Liberty is not going anywhere she’s been around 130 years I am sure she’ll be around 130 more. No one says you can only visit a city one time.
Limit yourself to one to two activities max in 24 hours. And finally, make sure you are in the moment and present with all your experiences. I guarantee if you start slowing it down when you travel you will eliminate a huge amount of stress and enjoy your experiences so much more!