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Vacation In The Slow Lane
If you didn’t post a photo in front of the Reclining Buddha, did you even go to Bangkok? The age of social media has inspired a tourism boom, the effects of which are felt around the world. The bucket lists and wanderlust can create many positives – as in Iceland, where a massive rise in tourism helped the country emerge from a financial crisis.
It is increasingly apparent that there is a more responsible, and enjoyable, way to see the world.
Too Much Of A Good Thing: Overtourism
Unfortunately, there is a less flattering angle to the rise of travel. In the Philippines, the picturesque Boracay Beach was closed to visitors after overtourism threatened fragile marine ecosystems. Residents of Venice, Italy, often resent tourists trampling all over the city with packed lunches, only to leave after they get their selfie. The city recently imposed an entrance fee to curb crowds.
Whirlwind trips that attempt to cover as many sites as possible are not necessarily the best experience for the traveler, either. It can leave you feeling more tired than when you left for vacation. Plus, if you spend time only around the Eiffel Tower or Machu Picchu, you might miss the hidden corners that reveal the true characters of Paris or Peru.
It is increasingly apparent that we can see the world in a more responsible and enjoyable way.
One approach is to simply slow down. The practice even has a name: slow travel. The antidote to exhausting checklist tourism, it is being embraced by full-time digital nomads (who blog about it at length) and also 9-to-5 employees on holiday. You don’t need a lot of time to travel slowly.
LIVE LIKE A LOCAL
The gist of slow travel is that you travel to fewer places, spend more time in each destination, and live like a local rather than a tourist. Proponents of the movement say it puts less stress on travelers and locals, it’s cost effective, and it can be less damaging to the environment.
Below are some ways you can practice slow travel on your next holiday.
PLAN FOR NO PLANS
If you have only a week of vacation time, stay in the same place for the entire week. Allow time to get to know your surroundings and discover things you can’t find in a guidebook. If you loved a café, go back. Get to know the people serving your coffee. They’ll probably have good advice on what to see and where else to eat.
STAY IN IF YOU FEEL LIKE IT
Try out the local market, and cook in your vacation rental. See how your favorite recipes taste with unfamiliar spices and produce.
BE A NEIGHBOR
Rent a home or apartment. Take it one step further, and house-sit or do a homestay. You likely can get a much better feel for a place when you choose to stay in a neighborhood instead of a resort or the downtown hotel district. You probably won’t have your sheets changed every day, but you may get a better feel for the local culture
FIND YOUR PEOPLE
Love kayaking? Brewing beer? Crochet? Seek out local clubs or festivals.
SLOW DOWN. LITERALLY
When you’re traveling somewhere like Europe or Japan, take the long route, and travel via train. There’s much more to see below cruising altitude. After reaching your destination, bike, walk, and smell the roses. If you’re not going far, there’s nothing like public transit to get a feel for the locals’ daily life. You can even take it to the Reclining Buddha or the Eiffel Tower.
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