When India came to a pandemic-mandated halt, so did travel. And the lockdowns changed us. They changed the way we work. And they have changed the way we travel.
Recent data reveals that Indian holiday makers are travelling like their European counterparts, slowly.
“Slow travel” is a real thing. It is bringing us back to the roots of why we travel. People embrace this mindset to get out of travel fatigue and immerse themselves in experiences.
Travel has become a ubiquitous part of life for so many people, particularly now that technology has made it seem much more accessible. Take a look online. Instagram is full of travel-focused accounts showcasing the world’s most beautiful places. YouTube gives adrenaline-junkies a perfect platform to share their adventures and provides stunning, photo-ready accommodations accessible at every price point. One study even showed that people were more likely to travel somewhere if they thought it would result in an increase in their social media following and engagement.
Seeing travel as a way to keep up with trends and become more popular online can actually stop you from experiencing the true benefits of getting out of your own bubble. The people who are leaving behind slow travel in favour of quick trips to stunning and inspiring places rack up more “likes”, so it can feel like we’re missing out if our own experiences don’t stack up against theirs.
If you find yourself making an extensive list of the places around the country that you want to check off of your bucket list, it may be time to take a step back and think about the reason behind your desire to travel. What do you want out of your travels? A fast and furious tour seeing ‘everything there is to see’, changing locations every 2-3 days? Or do you want to feel like a local, spending leisurely days strolling off the beaten path? If you’re craving a more authentic experience, one that leaves you with a feeling that you truly got to know the places, people and cultures that you’ve encountered on your travels, it could be time to s l o w down.
What is Slow Travel?
Slow travel is an approach to travel that emphasises connection: to local people, cultures, food and music. It relies on the idea that a trip is meant to educate and have an emotional impact, in the present moment and for the future, while remaining sustainable for local communities and the environment.
Heard of the slow food movement? It originated in Italy in 1986 and aimed to preserve regional cuisine, local farming and traditional cooking methods through education of tourists and local residents. People were realising that increased tourism was changing the way that people were eating, bringing larger, chain-based restaurants to major cities and taking away profits from family-owned establishments. The slow food movement worked to draw business back to traditional restaurants by touting the benefits of using regionally-sourced ingredients and stimulating local economies.
Different industry, same concept. When it comes to travel, a “slow” mindset urges tourists to take a step back from their to-do lists and Instagram-worthy photo ops and simply embrace what the local community has to offer. Instead of making sure you hit the “hot spots” outlined in a travel guide, focus on things that locals do every day, things that excite them and give them joy. The impact that these connections have on you will last a lot longer than the memories that you have of racing from tourist attraction to tourist attraction.
Slow Travel is not just a way to travel, it’s a mindset. It’s the outlook that the quality of your experience is more important than the quantity of your experiences when you travel.
You can wake up without plans for the day, unsure of the adventures that await you, but with the knowledge that what you’ll experience will mean so much more than what a post on social media could convey. Many travellers like to use the phrase “there’s always another trip” to convey that it’s impossible to see or do everything within a city in a short span of time. It’s okay to save some of the sights for another visit. Instead of racing to do it all, indulge in experience-based activities.
What other impactful local activities could you only experience if you were traveling slowly? Imagine learning how to create handmade beads from a local artisan, heading out with a resident fishing crew to reel in the day’s catch or getting to know the proper intricacies of drinking mate from a born-and-raised Goan.
My Villa Stays will bring updates on Slow Travel. Watch This space for:
Benefits of Slow Travel
How to Slow Travel
And Places of Slow Travel in India
Virender Razdan is co-founder & Chief Business Development Officer of My Villa Stays, a start up in the premium experiential homestay segment.