What is ‘slow travel’—and where should I go?

Looking for a mentally and spiritually restorative journey? Take some time off and opt for a slow travel voyage.

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If you’re like most, the past two years may have caused you to seek out new joys in life, including spiritual replenishment and stronger mental health—something to also focus on this Mental Health Awareness Month. If travel is also among your goals, slow tourism is a sure way to get out, get away from your norm and start digging into what truly matters to you.

Slow Travel theGrio.com
Photo: AdobeStock

Slow tourism, also known as slow travel, is an approach to travel that emphasizes connection to local people, cultures, food, music, and yourself, explains the travel site Remote Year. “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” the outlet explains.

Slow travel is not new, but it is becoming popular due to both burnout culture and our evolving world culture. Taking it up a notch, this type of travel should often involve some sort of ecotourism, where you are leaving less of a harsh carbon footprint on the world by taking slower means of travel to preserve the environment. Some great examples of slow travel can be by cruise or boat ride, staying in a bike-friendly or walkable city, taking steam trains, and hiking.

By no means should you feel forced to steer away from traveling in cars just to participate in slow travel; however, if you don’t own an electric or hybrid car, renting one on vacation is a great alternative. The most important aspect of slow travel is that you take time to yourself while connecting with where you are, who you are and who and what surrounds you without rushing into the next adventure. Below are our picks of slow journeys to partake in. 

Rovos Rail, South Africa

Rovos Rail is a privately owned luxury train railway company acting as a train hotel operating out of South Africa. On a 3-day travel adventure, you can get the most stunning views of African land by touring safaris, falls, and an amalgamation of diverse landscapes with the options of relaxing in your suite or enjoying observation cars, open-air balconies, dining cars, lounge cars, or the smoking lounge. You can also add excursions to your trip where you get to stop in the Cape Winelands for a drink or traverse through Addo Elephant Park. 

Thailand: Southern Thailand Nightlife/National Parks Tour

The Southern Thailand Nightlife/National Parks Tour is a scheduled 8-day trip that will have you fully immersed in the vibrant culture of Thailand. This excursion is a wildlife tour that explores Bangkok, Khao Sok, and Surat Thani in Thailand, where you travel by boat, bike riding, train, tuk-tuk, and ferry. On the tour, you’re sure to indulge in the best Thai food, restaurants, street food, floating hotels, canals, waterfalls, rainforest, and beaches while also coming across some of the most exotic animals you’ll ever witness in real life. This type of tour is great for young travelers on a budget who want to get out there and explore.

Tulum, Mexico

A hot spot in the pandemic, Tulum, Mexico has transformed just about everyone’s idea of what Mexico has to offer, with the biggest raves and day-to-night parties that never seem to end. But aside from those festivities, Tulum offers a great amount of spiritual-centered tourism that attracts those ready to roam and reflect. Find a boutique hotel away from the popular beach hotels where all the partying happens and journey through the Mayan ruins to connect with ancient energies. Witness the healing properties of the cenotes and visit the ancient tropical canals and rainforest reserves.

Tennessee/North Carolina: Great Smoky Mountains Inn Tour

If you grew up in the United States, you more than likely learned about the great Appalachian Mountains, so here’s your chance to visit. Book a three-to-five day slow travel trip to the Great Smoky Mountains Inn Tour on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina to experience the best of the region. You’ll feel like you are on a weeklong hiking trip with the luxury of stationed sleep areas, activities, and amenities that allow you to take in both the scenery and safely observe the black bear population!

Vancouver Island, Canada

Have you ever been on a seaplane? Taking one is your chance to not only visit Canada but experience one of the country’s most beautiful areas by unique sea travel. Hike the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve for several days, or whale watch for as long as you like. Take in the time to breathe and adjust to the week with outside options galore on this slow travel journey. 

Noel Cymone Walker theGrio.com

Noel Cymone Walker is an NYC-based writer specializing in beauty, fashion, music, travel, and cultural anthropology. She has written and produced visuals for several notable publications such as The Recording Academy/ The Grammys, The Fader, Billboard, OkayPlayer, Marie Claire, Glamour, Allure, Essence, Ebony, and more.

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