5 Slow Travel Destinations to Visit in 2020 

slow travel

 

More than ever, travelers are trading their jet-setting vacation mindset for leisurely getaways that leave a lasting emotional impact (and can often be more environmentally friendly, too). Here are five slow travel destinations that promise an action-packed yet emotionally restorative trip.    

 

Feeling burnt out by work, life … or a combination of both? Join the club, because a lot of other people feel that way, too! This year, the World Health Organization officially included burnout in its list of conditions that qualify as legitimate health concerns, which can be defined as feelings of exhaustion, a decrease in efficiency, and/or feelings of negativity or cynicism toward one’s job.

The bad news: You can’t visit your doctor to get a prescription to cure burnout. However, slow travel—defined as any trip of a week or more, ideally one that utilizes a form of transportation  that isn’t as environmentally-damaging as car or mult-flight airline travel—could be exactly what you need for a mental reset.

Just as the slow food movement encourages us to savor our meals and consider where ingredients are sourced, slow travel requires a thoughtful, laid-back approach to visiting your next destination. While slow travel might feel counterproductive at first, we promise that you’ll return with a greater understanding and appreciation of local culture, and a deeper understanding of the place you left home to visit. Here are five slow travel vacation ideas to inspire your next getaway.

 

Austria: Ten Lakes Bike Tour

If you’ve ever wanted to explore Austria, one of the best ways to do it is on a bike. Though you’ll want to pack accordingly for a stay in the city, this eight-day self-guided slow tour starts and ends in Salzburg, taking you on a tour of Austria’s 10 lakes via rolling hills.

Day one takes you on a flat ride through the Trumer Lakes Region to Irrsee, the warmest and most popular of Austria’s 10 lakes. On day two, you’ll enjoy an 80km ride to Attersee, a lake popular with swimmers and for hosting sailing competitions, and known for its “rosewind”—which, quite literally, is a rose-scented breeze carried across the lake from a nearby castle.

After an overnight stay in Traunstein, you’ll grab your bikes and hop on a train to Bad Aussee and Bad Ischl—stopping to enjoy food and wine on the way—before finishing your journey back in Salzburg. Be sure to admire the views of the Salzach River before departing.

Best Time To Visit: It’s best to plan your trip for May/June or September/October; the busiest months are during tourist season of July/August. 

 

Scotland: West Coast Railways Jacobite Steam Train

While there aren’t any shortage of train trips that can take you through the Highlands in style (we recommend the Belmond Royal Scotsman for a truly indulgent experience), West Coast Railways’ Jacobite Steam Train has been called one of the world’s greatest train expeditions.

You’ll begin your slow travel journey in Fort William, the largest town in the western Highlands. From there, you can pack a picnic lunch before exploring picturesque Mallaig, a port city full of shops and bars, or enjoy a relaxing walk in Arisaig, a village that boasts one of the Highland’s best beaches.

Best Time To Visit: Though their tours are offered year-round, we recommend visiting from April to October (when it isn’t winter!)

 

Thailand: Southern Thailand Nightlife/National Parks Tour

Packed with tons of optional activities, this eight-day excursion will have you traveling by boat, train, tuk tuk, and ferry through northern Thailand.

You’ll start in Bangkok and will explore the capital city’s canals and shopping centers, while sampling Thai street food, followed by a trip to Cheow Larn Lake, home to floating hotels, rainforests, and exotic animals such as sun bears, leopards, and wild elephants. From there, you’ll grab your gear and head to Kanchanaburi for a magnificent view of (and maybe a refreshing dip in) Erawan Falls, a seven-tiered waterfall that’s beautifully soothing.

Finishing your trip with a guided bike ride through Ayutthaya Kingdom, Thailand’s former capital city and UNESCO world heritage site, might be the highlight of your trip: The ruins of Buddhist temples give visitors insight into the influence of Buddhism on the Thai community.

Best Time To Visit: Since climate varies in Thailand, you’ll ideally want to visit from November to early April, when the seasons are cool and dry.

 

Colorado: Badger Creek Cattle and Guest Ranch

While there are plenty of boutique ranches in the U.S. where you can indulge your fantasy for living life in the American West in ultra-luxe style, Badger Creek Ranch offers an intimate, authentic experience that won’t break the bank.

During your stay (which can range from four to six nights), you’ll share the ranch with just seven other guests, spending time actually helping herd cattle on horseback, building a relationship with your horse, and learning what it means to practice “green ranching”: BCR is an off the grid property, using solar power for energy. When you’re done ranching, venture out to the nearby San Isabel and Pike National Forest and explore the scenery by foot or mountain bike, or enjoy an afternoon of bird watching or fishing in the nearby Arkansas River, before grabbing your bag and heading home refreshed.

Best Time To Visit: The ranch only hosts guests during the warmer months, so you’ll want to plan your trip sometime between May and October.

 

Tennessee/North Carolina: Great Smoky Mountains Inn Tour

Looking for a hiking vacation that involves sweeping views of nature—but don’t necessarily want to lug your tent and gear to experience it? Consider a three- to five-day guided trek through the Smoky Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountains best known for its biodiversity and home to one of the largest black bear populations in the U.S. Though you can choose from several options, we recommend packing your bags for the LeConte Lodge trek, the only guided hike that allows you to sleep in the park in a secluded permanent lodge.

Best Time To Visit: The lodge allows visitors during operating season of March to November. It’s best to book in advance, as each trip fills up quickly.

Have a favorite slow travel destination (or guided tour) you’d like to share? Tag us with your ideas on Instagram or Twitter !

 

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By Alison Kotch on December 11, 2019

Alison is a freelance writer, managing editor and running coach based in Brooklyn, New York. Read more of her work here, or follow her on Instagram / Twitter .