A vacation in a foreign country is an opportunity to see new sights, meet new people and experience a totally new environment (in some cases it may even be a once in a lifetime opportunity). The pressure to make the best use of your time and budget – to get the biggest bang for your buck so to speak – can sometimes tempt vacationers to cram as many experiences as possible into one trip. But does this approach always promise the most rewarding vacation experience?
Have you ever considered doing the exact opposite? Paris Hideaways take a look at the modern trend of Slow Travel.
Slow travel is a state of mind that emphasizes a closer connection to all aspects of one’s travel experience. At its most basic, this means foregoing busy travel itineraries and taking the time to appreciate your surroundings. For example, rather than board a bus and rushing through the countryside to get a quick peek at a famous landmark, slow travelers allow themselves the chance to be distracted by the features that their new environment has to offer. It could be a walk down an interesting street or a day’s stopover in a town you had never heard of before. Instead of gobbling down a quick lunch en route to the “main event”, slow travelers may make lunch an event in itself. In fact, when you slow travel, the voyage becomes the vacation!
This idea of slowly savoring your traveling experience isn’t new. Advocates of this trend point out that French writer Théophile Gautier wasn’t impressed by what he considered to be the modern fashion of speedy travel. Writing in Wanderings in Spain in 1843 he states: “In a diligence [coach] a man is no longer a man, he is but an inert object, a bale of goods, and does not differ from his portmanteau. He is thrown from one place to the other and might as well stop at home…. one of the great misfortunes of modern life is the want of any sudden surprise and the absence of all adventures.”
Slow travel can actually be seen as part of a worldwide trend towards slower living. There is a movement known as slow food which started in Italy in the 1980s as a reaction to fast food (the idea is that by taking time to enjoy your meals you can connect to the local people and culture.) There are also modern movements towards slow education, slow art and slow parenting. Slow travel has taken its place in the public consciousness as a reaction against the idea that quicker is necessarily better.
Slow travel can be less stressful because there are no set agendas and schedules to obey. It is more respectful to the communities you plan to visit because you blend in with the locals and live the way they do for while.
This is an excellent opportunity to talk to locals and find out the points of interest from their perspective. Take a language or cooking course, study Buddhism…
Slow travel is comfortable ! Even more so if you have your own home where you can spread out.
You may even save some money on your travel budget by indulging in more of the simple pleasures that your environment has to offer and having the time to make informed decisions on how and when you want to eat and drink and shop.
A good way to explore your environment is to think of your region as a series of concentric circles. Take time to discover the local environment that is closest to your temporary home, and then branch out further afield. This can be much more rewarding than dashing out on day trips to a specific site just to say that you had “been there”. Instead of hopping around on an airplane or battling traffic in a rental car, try exploring by foot or on bicycle.
Slow travel will also give you the opportunity to get to know regional cuisine. Stopping for food on the way to a tourist location tends to limit your possibilities. Imagine being able to take the time to eat like locals! And slowing down provides an opportunity to overcome language and cultural barriers.
A great way to experience slow travel is to forego the usual hotels and bed and breakfasts and choose a vacation rental.
A vacation rental will provide you with a permanent home base and will give you the opportunity to get out and explore at your own pace. You will shop for groceries in local shops and become a regular at local cafes and restaurants. In Paris, Paris Hideaways offers a wide selection of vacation rentals that are perfect for the slow traveler. Located in the most beautiful and dynamic neighborhoods, these apartments offer the chance to really get to know the city and live like a local.
And if you are looking to get to know London, London Hideaways offers you beautiful flats that will put you right in the heart of the true London Experience.
Slow travel emphasizes quality time. Planning your vacation by having fewer plans may be the best way to come home with memories that will last a lifetime.
Looking back on their voyage, the regular traveler may be able to say “I saw it” but the slow traveler can claim “I lived it”.
Paris Hideaways is an entity of Charming Hideaways Ltd, and is registered and based in London. Katia Provencher is the Director of Charming Hideaways, and has several years experience in the vacation rental and tourism business, including being vacation rental owner herself and also having been a long-term resident of Paris.