With busier schedules, low-cost flights, great accommodation deals and technology at our fingertips, we have become used to hopscotching through our travel bucket lists. What if you could take things slower and really immerse yourself in your next trip? To stop the rush and instant gratification and spend some time up in the mountains overlooking snowcapped views or on a tropical beach villa with ocean views, just basking in the present – and, if it’s your thing, with an unending supply of Piña coladas?
As we take our first steps in the outside world again, we will be cognizant of the longest lockdown in modern history. With the accessibility of international travel, we sometimes forget the undiscovered treasures closer to home, but that’s changing, and especially for the +35-age group. In digital travel platform Agoda’s Next Decade Travel survey, travelers in the 35-44 and 55+ age groups are most likely to want to explore more of their own countries and territories (40% and 42% respectively), with travelers from China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, The Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, US, and Vietnam choosing domestic destinations within their top three wishlist choices for the coming decade.
While taking a short-haul flight off to neighboring countries has become the norm, an alternative travel movement has been taking shape, helping travelers to slow down the pace and enjoy the ride. Taking a relaxing tram, train, bus, ferry journey or just driving through an encapsulating landscape can be an unforgettable experience.
Imagine stopping to immerse yourself entirely in a different town or city and finding the hidden gems only known to locals. Agoda’s recently launched long term rentals allowing bookings for up to 90 days on both Agoda Homes and hotels can translate into the sabbatical you always dreamt of. Travelers on Agoda.com can easily toggle between filters to choose what works best for them – from facilities like a gymnasium and Wi-Fi in urban landscapes or relaxing private beach views.
Slow travel gives the opportunity for us to enjoy the anticipation and excitement of once-in-a-lifetime holidays again, looking forward to the journey as well as the destination. Embrace that big city life in Bangkok, Tokyo, and Ho Chi Minh city or consider exploring up-and-coming destinations such as Oita in Japan, Daegu in South Korea, and Ha Long in Vietnam.
Consider going on an off-season adventure. Planning for a time that is different from the usual peak period would mean cheaper, fewer crowds, and authentic connections. Just imagine what the Colosseum looks like during autumn instead of summer. Or what Paris looks like after snowfall? Gorgeous!
Slow travel isn’t just about speed; it’s about the impact of your travel. You can support local businesses by eating at family-run restaurants or even staying at provincial homestays or independent hotels. Exploring your surroundings in an ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ fashion, like bicycling and walking are excellent ways to uncover places and experiences that could become the highlights of your trip, stumbling upon little cafes and shops, you might never have found in books or online.
Exploring the world with the lightest environmental footprint possible is easier when you are prepared with reusable items like water bottles – to keep you hydrated while reducing plastic pollution. Be more environmentally friendly with your product choices, mindful of coral reefs when you set out on your discovery dive. Common ingredients in chemical sunscreens can harm coral reefs, swap to reef friendly skin products, or use natural ingredients like coconut oil to give us a chance to do our part while taking care of ourselves.
Carry less, go far
Simple things like turning off lights and air conditioning when leaving the hotel room, reusing towels and bedding, and being mindful of how much of the hotel toiletries you need, thus, creating less waste. “Flashpacking” or backpacking on a bigger budget, gives you less to worry about on your adventure. You can still look great and stay on top of your self-care routines with lightweight toiletry bags with travel-sized bottles. Quick wash and durable clothing, multipurpose shoewear for hiking/beach, and long walks cut down on suitcase space while keeping you prepared for an epic travel itinerary.
Slow travel: Malaysia
Experience a smorgasbord of Eastern cultures in the diverse, cosmopolitan city of George Town, the beating heart of Penang Island. To get a full taste of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, travel on foot and weave your way around the main streets and intricate laneways for a dose of history and raw artistry as Penang is well-known as one of the top street-art destinations.
Make your way through the cacophony of hawkers and pushcart stalls amid busy traffic for some of the best street food around. You won’t go wrong by starting out your food journey on Burma Road in the day and ending it on Chulia Street at night.
For a slightly less physically taxing mode of transport, cop a ride on a trishaw or ‘beca’ as they are known in Malaysia, and make your way to the Pinang Peranakan Mansion for a peek into quintessential peranakan architecture and culture. From there, Khoo Kongsi – a lavishly decorated clan house built some 650 years ago, is only minutes away.
After a full-bellied tour of all that George Town has to offer, escape northwest to Batu Ferringhi – the prime beach destination in Penang and stay at Lone Pine Boutique Hotel by The Beach.
Sandakan is the second largest city in Sabah after Kota Kinabalu. Formerly the capital of the British North Borneo, this historical destination allows you to become one with nature as it is blessed with an abundance of rainforests. It is home to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation center and the Bornean Sun Bear Conversation Center, where visitors can experience the lush rainforests and also observe the wildlife and their habitats.
While here, a visit to Gomantong Cave, one of the largest cave systems in Sabah, is a must. It is known for its bat and swiftlet population so having covered shoes and a hat will certainly come in handy. Another must on the itinerary is the Buli Sim Sim Water Village, a water village on stilts that paints the lives of local fishermen families and their daily activities. Take your pick of any one of the few seafood restaurants here and savor the fresh catches while enjoying the sea breeze. You can also bring home some preserved dried seafood as souvenirs for friends and families.
Lay your head at Sabah Hotel, an eco-friendly resort situated in the center of a tropical rainforest with breathtaking natural surroundings – one that is especially perfect for nature lovers.