Photo credit: visitsedona.com
By Loretta McNary
Let me start by first introducing the Slow Movement Culture. The slow movement culture literally got its start in 1986 when someone started a protest against McDonald’s opening a restaurant in Rome, Italy. This sparked the creation of the slow food movement. The “slow” label has subsequently been added to many other activities including travel.
In a world richly defined by how fast we can accomplish things, the art of slow travel can seem counterproductive. However, it is very intuitive, inviting us to savor the journey and immerse ourselves in the vast essence of each destination. In other words, slow travel helps us experience travel from a different perspective. By asking locals the right questions, we may be invited to shop where the locals shop. And dine where they dine. This allows us to travel in a way that feels truly unique, giving us the space to connect with the history and culture of a place on a deeper level.
Originating from the Slow Movement, slow travel gives us an intentional approach to travel, focuses on depth rather than simply checking off a long list of must-see attractions and tourist driven destinations. Slow travel encourages us to embrace and appreciate the rhythm of an area as opposed to a rushing against a clock to complete a strict sightseeing itinerary.
Here are 5 Ways to Enjoy Slow Travel:
- Embrace a Relaxed Itinerary: Slow travel is about the journey, not just the destination. Create a schedule that allows spontaneous discoveries and the freedom to linger in longer in places, thus creating a more authentic and enriching experience.
- Prioritize Connection Over Check off the List: Engage with locals and seek genuine experiences. Whether it’s a conversation with a street vendor or participating in a community event, slow travel facilitates meaningful connections and provides a deeper understanding of local life.
- Choose Sustainable Accommodations: Opt for eco-friendly accommodations that align with sustainable practices. From locally-owned guesthouses to eco-lodges, or even homestays, slow travel provides an opportunity to reduce your environmental impact while gaining insights into local culture.
- Utilize Alternative Transportation: Slow travel encourages the use of sustainable and leisure friendly transportation options. Explore a city on foot or by bicycle, take a scenic train route, and appreciate landscapes in a way that air travel cannot provide.
- Taste test Local Cuisine: Slow travel invites you to enjoy local flavors. Explore fresh markets, try regional dishes, and participate in cooking classes to broaden your understanding of the culinary traditions unique to each destination.
Five International Destinations for Slow Travel:
- Kyoto, Japan: Was once the capital of Japan. Immerse yourself in the serene beauty of Kyoto, where ancient temples and cherry blossom-lined streets invite contemplation. Experience a traditional tea ceremony, stroll through historic Gion district, and marvel at the prominence of the Kyoto Imperial Palace.
- New Zealand’s South Island: Te Waipounamu’s breathtaking landscapes define New Zealand’s South Island. Slow travelers can explore fjords, pristine lakes, and glaciers. Be sure to take in the awe-inspiring nature on a scenic drive along Milford Sound or a multi-day hike.
- Cartagena, Colombia: Wander through the colorful streets of Cartagena’s Old Town, where colonial architecture and lively plazas create a captivating atmosphere. Enjoy the tropical climate, a take stroll on cobblestone streets, indulge in local street food, and absorb the vibrant cultural scene.
- Tuscany, Italy: Located in central Italy and is home to some of the world’s most recognizable Renaissance art. Tuscany has rolling vineyards and charming hilltop villages. Take leisurely drives through the countryside, savor local wines, and explore the art and architecture at a relaxed pace.
- Marrakech, Morocco: Lose yourself in the mazelike streets of Marrakech’s medina. The medina is a densely packed walled medieval city. Slow travel allows you to appreciate vibrant souks, ornate palaces, and the sensory delights of Jardin Majorelle. Engage with locals over mint tea and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Moroccan culture.
Five Domestic Destinations for Slow Travel:
- Asheville, North Carolina: Surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains, Asheville is a haven for slow travelers seeking a blend of arts, culture, and outdoor adventures. Ashville is home to the domed topped Basilica of Saint Lawrence. Take a walk through the eclectic downtown, visit local art galleries, and unwind in the calmness of the landscapes.
- Taos, New Mexico: Steeped in Native American and Spanish colonial history, Taos invites slow travelers to appreciate its adobe architecture, art galleries, and the spiritual energy of Taos Pueblo. Explore the scenic landscapes of the Rio Grande Gorge and experience the vibrant local arts community.
- Mackinac Island, Michigan: Mackinac Island is the go-to destination for slow travel. Embrace a bygone era on Mackinac Island, where cars are replaced by horse-drawn carriages and bicycles. Slow travel allows you to explore Victorian architecture, relax by the lakeshore, and enjoy the island’s timeless charm.
- Charleston, South Carolina: Experience the charm of the South in Charleston, known for its historic architecture, cobblestone streets, and southern hospitality. Slow travel allows you to savor the city’s rich history, indulge in Lowcountry cuisine, and explore its vibrant arts scene.
- Sedona, Arizona: Nestled among stunning red rock formations, Sedona invites slow travelers to connect with nature. Explore hiking trails, engage in spiritual retreats, and witness breathtaking sunsets that illuminate the landscape.
Whether you decide to venture abroad or explore domestic treasures, slow travel can provide a transformative journey. By embracing a deliberate and meaningful approach to travel, we can totally immerse ourselves in the essence of each destination, creating lasting connections and a magnificent tapestry of memories that transcends the ordinary travel experience. The art of slow travel is an invitation to rediscover the joy of the journey and experience a brand-new appreciation that can be found in taking the scenic route.
So, on your next vacation, choose to slow travel and leave the checklist to see as many tourist attractions as humanly possible behind in a drawer. You are not giving up control, you are merely choosing to enjoy and savor every moment of the journey.
Wishing you safe travels always, on every adventure you take.
Loretta McNary is our Lifestyles contributor. Catch “The Loretta McNary Show” on her channels, including broadcast TV, YouTube, Facebook, her website, and elsewhere.