What is Slow Travel?

Window in Citta di Castello, Umbria, fall 2001

With Slow Travel you experience a deeper type of travel by staying in one place longer and seeing the things that are close to you. It is an easier, simpler and slower way of traveling. There are two components to Slow Travel:

  • Spend one week in one place: Spend at least one week in one place on your trip to Europe. To do this, base your trip around one or more weekly stays in vacation rentals instead of hotels.
  • See what is near you: Use the "Concentric Circles" theory for day trips. Think of your touring area as a series of concentric circles around your base. See what is close to you instead of dashing about on long day trips to see the "must-sees".

Following these guidelines changes your travel experience. Staying in a vacation rental for a week lets you live like a local: shop at the local stores, go to the same cafe every morning, take the time to see the things that are near you. Learn more about how people live in other countries and come away from your trip rejuvenated and changed.

Slow Travel suits everyone. The couple who stays in a cottage on a farm to experience the countryside. The young family who rents a house because they need room for the kids to run around. The retirees who rent an apartment in a town to experience another culture. The single traveler who spends a week in an apartment in a city to see what it would be like to live there. Slow Travel suits the budget traveler who saves money by staying on a farm and not eating every meal in restaurants, the luxury traveler who rents a villa for 10 and hires a private chef, and everyone in between.

Slow Travel - Slow Europe

Read this section to learn more about Slow Travel and vacation rentals. The main concepts are outlined below, with links to pages that provide more details.

This section focuses on vacation rentals in Europe, but many of the same ideas apply to vacation rentals around the world. This type of travel has been popular for decades in Europe and is now making its way around the world. At the bottom of this page, I link to a page about US vacation rentals and detailed pages for the other countries we cover on the site.

"I took a speed reading course and read 'War and Peace' in twenty minutes.
It involves Russia."
- - Woody Allen - -


This is an annotated table of contents. Read this page to get an overview of Slow Travel and vacation rentals in Europe. Click the page link to read more details.

What is Slow Travel? (overview): The overview summarizes all the information in this section. This article was published on The Informer website in 2003 and in the magazine Transitions Abroad in 2004.

Spend One Week in One Place: The Slow Travel philosophy - spend at least one week in one place on your trip to really experience a place on a different level. Do not race through your trip, seeing every "famous" place. Instead, experience fewer places in more depth. Get to know one place well, instead of several places on a superficial level.

All About Vacation Rentals in Europe

What are Vacation Rentals?: Vacation rentals let you spend a week comfortably in one place. They are villas, houses, cottages, or apartments, on farms, in the countryside, in villages or in cities, that you rent by the week. They are not hotels or B&Bs, but accommodations with kitchens that let you live comfortably for a longer stay. You can find vacation rentals all over Europe, North America, the world!

Timeshares as Vacation Rentals: In addition to the standard farm, apartment, villa or house rental, timeshare developments can also act as vacation rentals. This article explains the whys and how to find the best deals all over the world.

Who are Slow Travelers?: Vacation rentals are for everyone: single people or couples who want more of a home atmosphere, families who need to be able to spread out to keep the children comfortable, large groups who want a place where they can easily be together, foodies who want a place to cook with ingredients from the local markets, people with special diets who need to do some of their own cooking, people on longer trips who want to have a place where they can settle in so they are not on the go all the time.

How to Plan your Slow Trip: Most vacation rentals in Europe rent from Saturday to Saturday. You check in Saturday afternoon and check out the next Saturday morning. Think in one week segments. You might want to book an open-jawed ticket, flying into one city and out of another. You can have a rental car for the whole trip or only for certain parts, using trains for the rest.

What to Expect in a European Vacation Rental: Vacation rentals come equipped with everything you need to live comfortably: sheets, towels, pots and pans, dishes, and cutlery. The house or apartment is cleaned before you arrive and when you leave.

What Do You Want in a Vacation Rental?: Before you decide on which vacation rental, decide on what you are looking for. Are you more of a city person, or do you love the countryside? Do you want to be near other people or in a place with total privacy? Do you want to save money and vacation simply or have a luxurious trip?

How to Search for a Vacation Rental: The Slow Travel web site is a good start! First decide which country you want to travel to. Then, for that country, read some of the reviews that we and others have posted about our stays in vacation rentals, so you can get a good idea of what to expect. Then, hit the web!

Questions to Ask: Once you have your short list or have found an agency who will do your searching for you, be prepared with your list of questions to ask, so you will be sure you know what you are booking.

How to Choose Your Vacation Rental: Choose a vacation rental logically - don't let yourself fall in love with a description or one photo, because the place may not be as represented or may not suit you. Ask questions, ask for photos, ask for references. We have a worksheet to use when comparing vacation rentals.

How to Book Your Vacation Rental: The down side of vacation rentals is that you usually pay 30 - 50% upon booking and you may have to make full payment 30 - 60 days before you arrive. There are no last minute cancellations like with hotels.

What You Will Need to Bring on your Trip: Vacation rentals come fully equipped but there are some things you can bring with you to make your trip easier. For example, we always travel with our own knives and wooden spoons.

When You Arrive at Your Vacation Rental: Honor the check in and check out times - they are not a hotel with a front desk manned 24 hours a day. Check into your new place, then head out to get some supplies. Food is usually not provided so you will need to shop for basic groceries when you arrive. Some rentals provide a welcome basket with a few basics.

Planning Your Trip

Where to Get Your Travel Advice: People like to tell you exactly where you should go when you travel, but you must consider your sources. Take travel advice with a grain of salt and do your own research.

You Don't Have to See the Must-Sees: What do you do with your week? Don't feel like you have to see every must-see within a three hour drive. The must-sees are not always the best thing to see anyway.

Planning your Day Trips, Concentric Circles: Don't spend your day driving; instead, pick a vacation rental in a good area, and spend the time exploring the area that is close by. Think of your vacation rental as the center of the circles that you explore on your trip. On your next trip, pick a different base and see that area.

Do Vacation Rentals Vary from Country to Country?

Yes. Vacation rentals in Switzerland are very different from the ones in Italy. Go to the Vacation Rental section for each country to read details about vacation rentals in that country.

>> Italy: Vacation Rentals

>> England: Vacation Rentals

>> Switzerland: Vacation Rentals

In each of these sections, you will find lists of agencies and vacation rentals, any extra notes about vacation rentals in that country and reviews submitted by other Slow Travelers - everything you need to plan and book your trip.

What is this Website?

About Us: We are not affiliated with any vacation rental agency. We collect information about agencies, places you can rent from the owner and reviews of places people have stayed. We have put all this information in one place to help you learn about Slow Travel.

The photo at the top of this page is an example of something beautiful that I found in a small town in Umbria, a town that is not on anyone's "must see" list. We were spending the day exploring the small towns, looking at the wonderful old buildings, seeing the local museums. This window was just an ordinary window on an ordinary street in a small town in Italy. There is a lot to see in the small, off the beaten track, towns all over Europe.

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