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7 Ways To Embrace Slow Travel on Your Next Getaway

Travel slowly to enjoy deeper, more immersive experiences.

Travelers experience a traditional temple in Bali in Indonesia, slowly.
Hi, I'm Jen!

Vermont travel writer Jen Rose Smith covers adventure, remote places, and traditional cuisine from a home base in the Green Mountains. Her articles have appeared in National Geographic Adventure, American Way, Nexos, Condé Nast Traveler, Backpacker, AFAR, Rolling Stone, USA Today, and Outside Online.

There’s an undeniable thrill to destination-hopping. But these days, many travelers are looking for something richer—trips that build authentic connections to places, people, and cultures. That’s where slow travel comes in.

Passionate traveler Pauline Kenny coined the term more than 20 years ago, inspired by the global Slow Food Movement, a grassroots organization founded in Italy that advocates for local culinary traditions and cultures. Slow travel is all about experiencing places in depth, with an emphasis on true cultural immersion over bucket lists. Here are seven ways you can travel slower for your next vacation.

1. Stay longer

Market sellers at a night market in Marrakech.
Slow down and dig in deep to a new place.Photo Credit: Greg Kendall-Ball / Viator

Stay put for weeks or even months.

This is where slow travel starts. Putting fewer places on your travel itinerary allows you to focus more fully on each destination, exploring beyond its most obvious sites and neighborhoods. That time pays off as you’ll begin making new discoveries, both places, and people. Becoming a regular at a great neighborhood café in Melbourne or a colorful Marrakech market makes you a familiar face, not just a tourist skimming by on their way to the next place.

2. Practice a foreign language

Travelers enjoy the sidewalk tables outside the Cafe de Flore in Paris.
Learn the language and you're bound to delight the locals.Photo Credit: Alex Segre / Shutterstock

This way, you can communicate with the locals.

A few phrases go a long way when it comes to connection. Learning a new language can open new doors by showing respect and appreciation for local culture. You don’t have to be a language wiz to get started.

Try booking a 1-day language class to learn some basic vocabulary—it’s the fastest way to go beyond the basics. Whether you’re doing a Greek immersion on a Mediterranean island or perfecting your bonjour at a Parisian café, these experiences double as a great way to meet like-minded slow travelers.

3. Forget about the overrated tourist sites

One of the main sites at Petra in Jordan.
Go off the map and you're likely to have stunning places all to yourself.Photo Credit: tenkl / Shutterstock

Take the road less traveled instead.

Some of the world’s most famous places really are astounding—slow travel doesn’t mean skipping that Petra tour or avoiding the Uffizi galleries. But for many travelers, the memories that linger most come from unexpected encounters like a spontaneous connection, a surprising view, or quirky art in a neighborhood that’s far off the tourist map.

Thinking beyond the bucket list leaves more time for such experiences while freeing you from the goal-oriented pressure of ticking off top sites. It gives you the time to befriend locals, practice a new language, or explore those hidden gems.

4. Start walking

Friends walk beneath colorful lanterns in a Vietnamese street.
Stroll through a new place and you're bound to get to know it better.Photo Credit: Romas_Photo / Shutterstock

Discover new places on foot.

Many places are best explored on foot, as walking through an unfamiliar city lets you experience the sounds, smells, and rhythms of a new place. You can stop as often as you want, ducking into shops or exploring intriguing side streets.

Whether you’re on a walking tour of Hanoi or strolling through Vienna with a guide, wandering is also a great way to get your bearings when you first arrive and figure out which places you’d like to discover in greater depth.

5. Learn a new skill

A chef flambes a dish for a cooking demonstration for slow travelers.
Joining a cooking class is a great way to get to know the local cuisine.Photo Credit: Armando Gallardo / Viator

There’s no better way to connect to a destination and its culture.

There are endless ways to connect with authentic culture, and classes and workshops are wonderful places to start. Foodies can get a glimpse of Peru’s culinary wealth by signing up for a Peruvian cooking class, visitors can make their own carnival masks in Venice, and K-Pop fans can practice their moves in Seoul dance studios. (If your next vacation feels a long way off, you can even hop onto a virtual class or tour to tide you over.)

6. Discover local perspectives

Pilgrims perform traditional practices at a Balinese temple.
Pilgrims perform traditional rites at a temple in Bali.Photo Credit: Brian Feulner / Viator

Get insider knowledge from a guide.

Spirituality speaks volumes, and learning more about local beliefs gives you important cultural context. Tours are great for this, as it’s hard to gain such intimate insight on your own. With a guide, you can experience traditional ceremonies at Balinese temples; join praying pilgrims on the banks of the Ganges; or learn why Sedona, Arizona, has become a New Age spiritual hotspot.

7. Leave time for surprises

Friends share a glass of wine at a bar in Brooklyn where they're experiencing slow travel.
Allow space on your travels for unexpected moments of joy.Photo Credit: Amanda Voisard / Viator

Don’t over-plan; make time for spontaneity.

It’s tempting to fill every bit of your limited vacation time, and it’s true that some tours, tickets, and restaurant bookings are best snagged in advance. But it can also pay off to leave some time unscheduled—afternoons for wandering, an impulsive shopping trip, mornings to linger in the corner café, or wine with new local friends. A bit of blank space on your itinerary can lead to unexpected places and incredible memories.

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