During my Thanksgiving holiday break, where I enjoyed the company of visiting family, I was reminded of the beauty of slow travel.
Slow travel has been defined by many as the option to choose stays, such as vacation home rentals as opposed to hotels, to connect with locals and have more of a cultural experience where ever you may be.
An example of this would be how my family and I chose to travel through France a couple of summers ago.
But slow travel doesn’t only happen in far away places, nor do you have to rent a house to experience the local feel of a place.
The general and most significant premise of slow travel is that you take the time to “smell the roses”, slow down, observe, and really enjoy your surroundings.
My out-of-town family wanted to spend a day in New York City, and my husband, eager to show them the best of everything the city had to offer in the short period we were there, made a laundry list of must-sees and do’s. I, however, wasn’t too keen on a fully packed, heavily scheduled itinerary for two main reasons: it’s holiday season, which means loads of tourists and super crowded everything and we were traveling with young kids, ages ranging from 3 to 10.
I credit my children for teaching me the value of slowing down in travel because they are such curious beings and take everything in to the fullest. But many travelers, whether they are with their kids or not, tend to want to pack in their vacation time to maximize the limited time off and the cost of taking a trip.
But there’s a lot more to be said about planning light and limiting your to-do list to only a few things. I know travelers who wouldn’t be able to tell you a thing about a place or a people, despite their heavily stamped passport, because they are so eager to do and go and move and go some more that they miss out on the beauty of just being still.
The day was chilly, but beautiful and we didn’t feel the need to rush through any of it.
Though my family didn’t seem too excited about my plans to go at a slower pace, they later realized how much more enjoyable it was, not just for the parents, but for the kids as well. I was able to point out details that would have easily gone unnoticed had we sped along to the next spot and the children didn’t have a melt down due to exhaustion despite our covering miles of the city by foot in chilly temperatures.
Because of our slower pace we noticed a pop-up bar hosted by Stella Artois and because we were in no hurry we were able to enjoy a yummy drink and even snap a few fun photos.
Our slower pace also allowed us to enjoy the sights, which are especially beautiful this time of year in the city.
Even the youngest one in our group took notice of the details which we would have totally missed out on had we rushed through the crowds.
We didn’t cover everything that was initially discussed, but we saw a lot and the kids enjoyed all of it as well, a tricky balance to achieve.
We covered a lot of territory, even at our slower pace, and not a tantrum or melt down in sight.
Here are my tips to help you not fall into the trap of over-packing your travel schedule and embracing slow travel for a more enjoyable experience anywhere you go:
- Write out a list of ALL the things you would want to do and see at the destination you are visiting, then map out each place. Figure out what spots are closest to each other and focus a day on that spot so that you can enjoy it fully. Depending on how long you are visiting, you can dedicate a day or two to each area, allotting time to people watch, explore newly discovered areas, or just going at a slower pace than normal.
- Keep in mind time of travel. If traveling during high season, take into consideration traffic, lines, and crowds. Not having to rush through these unavoidable situations makes for a much more relaxing experience and an ability to go with the flow, no matter how long the wait. Want to avoid the long touristy lines? Ask a local where they hang out. It’s usually off-the-beaten path and not crowded at all. Not to mention, less expensive and more fabulous.
- Note that depending on the destination, walking or taking public transportation can be the fastest way to get around and also the least expensive and the more open to opportunities of engaging with the local crowd.
- There’s nothing wrong with resting or allowing for some downtime, especially when traveling with kids. Often times people avoid this because they feel as if they are not making the most out of the money they spent. But the truth is, no one is having fun if they are exhausted in the process.
- Trust that by slowing down you will see something you wouldn’t have otherwise and walk away with a deeper appreciation and understanding for where you are. That, to me, is worth its weight in gold and is should be the true definition of value in travel.
So, next time you are tempted to speed through your vacation and do as much as you kind in your short time away, think about all the things you will miss in the process that you could potentially enjoy if you only slow down a bit.
This post is in partnership with Embassy Suites by Hilton. I am a proud ambassador of the #PrettyGreat Family Travel Hacks. To view the latest hacks, visit the #PrettyGreat Family Travel Hacks Online Community at embassytravelhacks.hilton.com. Connect with Embassy Suites on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram andPinterest using the hashtags #prettygreat and #travelhacks.