If Travel in Your 60s Tires You Out, Try Slow Travel
In a previous article, I introduced the concept of slow travel. It’s about traveling less and seeing more. Doing less and enjoying it more. Or staying longer and well, traveling more slowly. Today, I’m sharing more ideas for traveling comfortably in today’s harried environment.
Slow Travel Begins with Slow Planning
Planning a trip is a lot of work that feel a lot like a part time job! You can spend hours online, reading books, writing emails, making reservations. I learned that the hard way when I made the mistake of trying to do a spontaneous trip to Europe.
I ‘paid’ for it with bad hotel rooms – because everything was booked – high, last minute airfares and big crowds. I tried to do too much in too little time. As a result, I returned home exhausted!
If you plan well and do your research, you will have a much lovelier trip with fewer surprises. You’ll find the best travel deals to suit your budget and have things as much as possible to your liking.
Slow Travel Means a Perfect Hotel or Flat for Your Needs
My young self didn’t take hotel rooms too seriously. After all, I would be out all day and would only be there to sleep. Well, I learned that was not the case now, when, on my last trip, I came back to a room that I really hated. It was far from restful and… quite annoying!
So, take the time to really read the reviews of the places you’re considering. Note if it’s located in front of a disco/club – I didn’t and suffered horrible noise until 5 a.m. each morning.
Learn how to really analyze the photographs of the hotel room or flat. Returning back to a small, stuffy room that you dislike is not pleasant.
Decide what’s important for you. Is it location? Do you want to be in the center of town so you’re close to certain things? Keep in mind that you might have to put up with noise and crowds.
Do you prefer to be away from the tourist areas? It might be quieter, but you might have to walk further or take trams. Are there stairs? How many flights can you really handle?
What amenities are important to you so that you feel calm and rested? Being able to make a cup of tea in my room counts for a lot. Breakfast included? Or do you prefer to discover a new cafe every morning?
The goal is, no surprises. Basically, you’ll want a hotel or flat you look forward to returning to at night after a day of sightseeing.
Travel the Big Distance Once
I live in Mexico. Instead of taking two two-week trips to Europe each year, I’m going to travel the pond once, and spend more time once there. This saves money, and also on the wear and tear of travel. I will set up a home base, live locally, and make excursions from there.
Renting a Flat Is Slow and Local
Renting a flat makes you feel at home and less like you’re traveling. You can make your meals, watch telly, read a book, and feel like you’re vacationing instead of constantly traveling.
I plan excursions with no-guilt rest days. I can go off for a week somewhere and return back to my home base. I can invite friends to spend a week and share in expenses.
Nature Travel Tends to Be Slower Travel
Cities are busy and filled with lots of urban stimulation and delicious temptations. I like to take one trip a year where I rent a cabin in the mountains and just enjoy hiking, biking, canoeing and living in nature at my own pace.
A beach bungalow on an island. A lake house in Michigan. An afternoon with a picnic. A book, a sketchpad. Binoculars and birds. It’s soul filling travel.
Cruises and Tours Are a Form of Slow Travel
It is true that most tours will have you up and out every day, but what’s ‘slow’ about this kind of travel is that you don’t have to make decisions, figure out where you are, what you’re going to eat, whether to see this or that.
On a tour, all the thinking has been done for you and it tends to be spot on. You job is to enjoy each day. Another thing about tours is: your luggage is handled and transported from place to place.
Cruises are famously relaxing and brilliant slow travel. Unpack once and see many places as your cruise ship navigates its itinerary.
Staying with Friends Is Slow Travel
At this time in our lives we all have friends living all around the world. Visiting your friends is definitely a calmer way to travel. It’s also more economical and personal. So, if you have good friends, do visit each other and extend hospitality both ways. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Packing for Slow Travel
If you pack light, you’re free and easy to maneuver your carry-on yourself. Lugging a heavy, large suitcase over cobblestones is not slow travel, it’s torturous travel! Carry-on packing is an art.
When you’ve packed brilliantly, you feel chic and perfect as you enjoy your days. Everything goes with everything else, and you’re layering things dependent on the weather.
I’m not a shopper when I travel, but still, I always pack a sports sac bag in my carry-on for purchases that seem to add up by the end of the trip. I never mind going home with two bags. And don’t forget, it’s easier to mail purchases home than carry them the whole trip.
Also, be price savvy and check prices on Amazon in the evening back in your room. Often, what looks like a must-buy at the moment, can actually be purchased at home for much less.
Look for Courses, Concerts, Events, Excursions
Slow travel means enjoying life like a local. I took a knitting workshop in Amsterdam that I had booked online weeks earlier.
Knowing what concerts were on, what was playing at the symphony, what blockbuster museum shows I’d need to pre-book, takes the stress out of arriving in a place and running around trying to make it all happen.
Be Prepared and then Let Go
“Sh*t happens.” Weather happens. Planes are delayed. Things are cancelled. Mistakes are made. You can prepare, but you can’t control everything. Roll with the punches and relax.
Have you given up on travel? Do you have the will to go but dread the planning and exhaustion of travel? What slow travel tips can you share with us? Please do so in the comments below.
Elizabeth Dunkel is a writer and novelist who presently lives in Merida, Mexico. Camp Liza is her personal blog about stylish, soulful and creative living. Her newest e-book, “How to live like a millionaire on a retirement budget” is available on Amazon. Elizabeth is the proud founder of the Merida English Library. She’s currently writing a book about millennials and money, in addition to an anti-memoire.