5 Benefits of Slow Travel in 2022
The Slow Travel movement is gaining traction in recent years. I share some possible explanations as to why and tips for how you can take advantage of Slow Travel's benefits in 2022!
Traveling has changed drastically in the post-Covid era. Restrictions are tighter, and the risks are higher – especially as Omicron rears its ugly head. On the other hand, remote work options are on the rise. More employees are interested in and actively seeking remote work, especially with employers that allow location independence.
Covid has wreaked havoc in our daily lives, making it feel like the ‘new normal’ is here to stay indefinitely. However, one thing it has shown many individuals is how much better our lives can be when we make the ‘life’ part of work-life balance a priority.
Being on that grind, hustling, working 60, 80, 100 (!) hours a week, burning out, dealing with bullying and harassment from coworkers and management (especially for POC) - what’s it all for? Why punish ourselves for a paycheck?
This has resulted in a landslide of cultural changes, culminating in the Great Resignation. Employees have finally discovered they have the leverage to make fundamental changes: more PTO, better benefits, higher wages, more remote work flexibility. Power to the people!
Enter the Slow Travel Movement
But what does this all mean for travel, and what does the Slow Travel movement have to do with any of this?
As a result of these cultural shifts, we’re already seeing employers acknowledging job seekers’ demands by offering more time off and more location flexibility for remote work. Taking advantage of this new and ever-changing situation seems like a no-brainer for us wanderlust-bitten travelers.
Additionally, 2021 consumer trends show that travelers want more experiences over things. Research from booking.com indicates that travelers believe sustainable travel is vital, with 61% saying the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future.
So, after decades of plodding onwards as a vague idea wrapped up in the Slow Food movement, Slow Travel is finding a substantial foothold.
Everything from weekend getaways and extended vacations to part-time immigration to a new country, people are traveling with more purpose, to achieve some deeper desire, and are seeking more authentic experiences.
This is what the Slow Travel experience is all about. The idea is that you should leave more than what you came with and what you leave with should be colorful, crystalline memories, a deeper understanding of - and a connection with - the local community, and knowledge to share with friends and family at home.
Now, this all sounds nice, but how can we achieve all these beautiful promises?
Lucky for you, I’ve gathered FIVE benefits of Slow Travel for: you, your wallet, the environment, and the people at your destination. Whether you’re a remote worker or just someone who wants to make the most of their new generous PTO, this list is for you!
Save Money with Slow Travel
If you want to save money traveling, Slow Travel is a no-brainer. This is a significant benefit of the Slow Travel concept, so I’ve broken it down into four points below:
1. Making purchases and eating outside tourist areas:
All the concepts and benefits of Slow Travel ultimately lead to this: you will have more money in your wallet at the end of your trip than if you traveled the old-fashioned fast-travel way.
When I Slow Travel, I eat and shop at the local equivalent of a “mom & pop” store or restaurant that is not in a touristy area. I consistently find that the small businesses which locals frequent will have lower prices and more authentic food or product options.
So consider this a twofer! Not only are you saving money, but you’re also getting a better sense of what locals really eat.
2. Long-term stay discounts:
Another benefit is that some Airbnb hosts will offer discounts on extended stays that are often equivalent (or cheaper!) to a month of rent at home. If you find a nice apartment in a more residential area, you’re bound to get an even better deal.
This long-stay tactic is also an excellent way to position yourself closer to those local eateries and shops. What better way to experience your new city than to walk out of your apartment and find you have a great local eatery right around the corner?
This happened when my partner and I first moved to Rome and found Magna Pizza around the corner in our not-so-well-known neighborhood of San Giovanni.
3. Staying put saves money:
There’s a lot to be said for just staying in one place. Slow Travel doesn’t mean you can’t go around and see other nearby towns, but generally, you’re staying in one place, choosing to not spend money traveling a distance away from your destination, and making more sustainable travel choices (using trains instead of planes or bikes instead of cars).
These tend to be both very economical and environmentally conscious alternatives.
4. Long-stay rentals usually have kitchens:
If you like to cook, staying in an apartment long-term allows you to pick up a few staple items to make at least 2 out of 3 meals at home and save a little money there.
Also, open-air food markets are probably my favorite thing to explore in a new city. At these markets, you can usually find unique products or authentic foods. The people are generally pleased to explain how to cook something if you don’t know.
Contribute to the local economy
Hand-in-hand with saving money while Slow Traveling, the money you do spend using the tactics above often contributes more to the local micro-economy and communities than fast travel.
With fast travel, you may be giving your money to owners or businesses who don’t re-invest that money into the local community. For example, tour companies, brand-name stores, or chain restaurants are often run by groups with no vested interest in giving back to the community at your destination.
Eating and shopping local is a sure-fire way to make sure your money makes a positive impact.
Shopping at local boutiques or art stores is also a fantastic way to support niche, under-supported or under-represented communities, such as indigenous people who make traditional crafts.
Travel more sustainably
To be honest, sustainable travel feels like a misnomer to me. How is it possible to travel without environmental impact when taking one flight can generate more CO2 than citizens of some countries produce in a year?
This is why, in my opinion, travel is a privilege. We have a duty to make sure our travel choices don’t have a net negative effect. This is why Slow Travel is such a good option for those who are environmentally conscious and want to make their travel habits more sustainable.
How? You’ve already read them! To recap, though, you can travel more sustainably using Slow Travel concepts by:
1. By staying in one place for an extended period, you’re contributing to fewer emissions, and you can choose more eco-friendly transportation options like trains, public transport, bicycles. The best part is you can do this with short trips, too!
2. Purchasing local food products and eating at local restaurants. By making more conscious food choices, we can contribute to local farming communities and locations that don’t import food from abroad.
Reduced Fast Travel Fatigue
It’s in the name! I mean, when have you ever felt rejuvenated following a packed itinerary, running from one historical site to the next, standing in line for hours, and squeezing in a meal between it all?
While it can be great for those who want to see as much as possible in a short period, this is not the kind of travel style that will leave you with a sense that you had time to relax, breathe, and experience your destination.
For me, taking it slow is as easy as finding a run-down beach bar with lots of locals and telling my boyfriend, “Hey, let’s stay here for a while.”
Maybe we missed seeing a new beach that day or didn’t get to have lunch at the other place we planned, but we made memories watching the stray beach dogs, chatting with the bartender, and laughing over how strong our cocktails were.
Better Cultural Experiences
North Americans tend to love running around from place to place and cramming in as many activities into a day as possible. When you’re in a rush, the world is a blur around you. You’ll miss so much more than if you just slowed down.
When you slow down, things become clearer, and while you’re not doing as much, you’re experiencing more.
When you slow down, you’ll find that people are happy to chat and share a slice of their life with you.
When you slow down, your eyes can settle on a place rather than slide over it. Before, maybe you would have walked right past. Slow Travel urges you to step in and take a peek. You’ve got nowhere to be, right?
I’ve had so many unforgettable moments while traveling with family, friends, or with my boyfriend where we took a day to do whatever we felt like, and it ended up being the best day of the trip. Slow Travel asks, why not make every day a whatever-we-want-to-do day?
I hope you’ve taken something positive from this list to use at your next destination. Remember that you don’t need to follow everything here to ‘T’ to do Slow Travel. Take a day to hit the main sites if you want! If you’re starving and need a taste of home, no one should blame you for having a McDonald’s hamburger (it might even be better than home in some cases). Do Slow Travel your way - in whatever way works for you!
So, you’ve got two weeks of vacation coming up. Where will you go? How will you spend it?