For those of you who are not quite sure what the term Slow Travel means, it’s about taking the time to explore a place in depth rather than rushing around, ticking off ‘must sees’ from a packed itinerary.
You can enjoy Slow Travel anywhere, be it a big city or in the middle of nowhere – the point is to allow yourself to be immersed into the culture, interact with local people, shop and eat local to get a deeper sense of connection and understanding.
Benefits of Slow Travel
Instead of coming back from a hectic holiday feeling that you need another one to recover from it, Slow Travel allows for time to relax and simply ‘be’ in your chosen destination. Slow travel offers opportunities for inner contemplation as you walk or cycle, or as you relax at the end of a satisfying day.
Unlike a sightseeing holiday, the journey IS the experience, rather than just a way to get from A to B. When you are on a walking or cycling holiday, you will notice things that you simply wouldn’t if you were travelling by car. You can literally smell the flowers, and the other scents of the countryside. Hear the birds chattering, dogs barking, bells chiming and the rhythmic sounds of manual agriculture.
Being on foot or bike, with no set timetable for the day, you have the freedom and flexibility to take breaks at places that appeal to you or to stop and observe something of interest. There’s also much less impact on the environment.
Another benefit of Slow Travel is the opportunity to learn more about the local culture and ways of life. On our trails between remote villages or vineyards, you will inevitably see local people working with the land and have opportunities to pass the time of day with them and hopefully learn more about the work that goes into creating local produce, be that wine, cheese, sausages, honey or wicker baskets to name a few examples.
Eating local food is one of the great joys of travel, whether you buy produce yourself at local grocery stores or markets or try traditional dishes in family-run restaurant. By doing so, you’re also increasing your opportunity to interact with the people who live there and making sure that your money stays within the community.
By staying in locally-owned accommodations in villages, you’ll have even more opportunities to see how people really live and chat to people who are not being paid to put on a show for tourists.
Tips for making the most of Slow Travel
Learning to overcome language barriers gives you the freedom and confidence to forge real, meaningful connections with the people you meet and learn more about their culture. Learn some basic phrases in the local language before you travel and seek opportunities to talk to people. Allow time in your itinerary for flexibility and spontaneity so that you can act on local suggestions or take time to savour a particular experience.
Use the slower pace and the joy of the journey to do some soul-searching, deepen your relationships with your travel companions, engage with your surroundings or have meaningful connections with local people. Be okay with not seeing and doing everything and instead embrace the unplanned opportunities that may arise from taking things more slowly.
Instead of shopping for mass-produced trinkets at the airport or tacky souvenir shops, buy locally-made souvenirs such as crafts or produce like honey, wine or almonds. Better still, see if you can talk to the producer or even the shop owner to find out more about the production process.
Experience Slow Travel in Portugal with us
The values of Slow Travel underpin our work at Portugal Green Walks. We design our programmes in a way that enables you to fully engage with the principles and benefits of this way of travelling in the beautiful countryside and small villages of Northern Portugal.
Why not take a look at our walking holidays in the Douro wine region or the verdant and culturally rich Minho landscapes? Or perhaps it’s time to embark on the journey of a lifetime on the Portuguese Camino de Santiago… Alternatively, rent one our luxury villas for a week and really get to know a single destination, with plenty of time for relaxation.