In praise of slow holidays (and how to plan your own)
Hello, hello, hello, you lovely people. I’m back from our holiday to the Isle of Skye and I’m so happy to be sitting down and writing to you all again!
Our trip was absolutely gorgeous. The sun shone all week, the island was even more beautiful than we expected, and I relaxed more than I have done in a really long time. It was bliss.
I’m going to be writing a post all about the Isle of Skye and what we got up to later in the week, but today I wanted to talk about slow holidays and why I am well and truly converted to them. Because honestly, this trip was a game changer for me.
I don’t think anybody would describe my usual travel style as slow. In fact, my parents joke that they get exhausted at just the thought of going away with me because I’m always trying to squeeze as many activities into my holidays as possible. I’m a city break lover and an adventure junkie - slow travel just isn’t something that’s ever crossed my mind.
But at the beginning of this year I made a promise to myself that I’d keep leaning into what feels good. That I’d shake off the shoulds and the obligations, and start being more intentional with my decision making. It’s a mantra that I’ve been applying to all areas of my life, and when I started thinking about it in relation to travel, I was surprised.
Because when I truly listened to my intuition and started to figure out what I was craving from a holiday, it wasn’t a jam packed itinerary and a big exciting adventure. What I realised I actually wanted was relaxation and down time and space to be creative. I wanted plenty of fresh air and some good hiking spots and ideally, some sea views. I wanted a trip where I could spend some quality time with my husband, a trip where we would both come home feeling refreshed and re-energised, rather than jet lagged and exhausted.
And so it was that we ended up booking a week in a remote lodge on the Isle of Skye. It was totally different to anything we’d ever done before. We arrived with one lunch reservation and not a single other plan. And it was absolutely perfect.
We slept for at least 9 hours every night. We ate our breakfast on the patio every morning. We hiked in some incredible locations, and spent whole afternoons watching the waves roll in and out at the beach. We listened to the bird song and chased the sunsets and cooked delicious food. I read 5 books and didn’t wear a scrap of make up all week. We both wrote more than we have done in ages.
It was so lovely to be rooted in one place. We could have tagged on trips to other islands, or made Skye a pitstop on a bigger Scotland road trip. We could probably have seen way more of the island if we’d had a stricter itinerary or been a bit more strategic with how we spent our days.
But that wasn’t what this trip was about. This trip was about slowing down and leaning into what felt good. It was about relaxing and recharging and remembering what’s most important to us. And it was such a success in that regard.
It taught me that our holidays can serve many different purposes in our lives. Sometimes we need the excitement and the adrenaline rush of busy city breaks. Sometimes a bit of adventure is just what we need to fill up our cups. But sometimes we need to just switch off and relax for a little while. And in our ever busy world, I think it’s important to let ourselves do exactly that.
I’m a total convert to slow holidays now. I’m not saying we’ll never go on another city break again (we’ve already got a trip booked to New York next month, so that definitely wouldn’t work!), but I do want to remember that holidays aren’t just about squeezing as much into our days as possible. And I want to make a habit of booking in these slow paced jaunts amongst all of the bigger adventures too - I know now they’re just as crucial for our wellbeing.
If you like the sound of our slow holiday and fancy planning one of your own, I’ve put together some little tips to help you…
Choose your destination well
No matter how hard you try, you’re probably not gonna have a slow and relaxing holiday if you choose to visit a busy city or a party resort. Choose somewhere that has a few things to see and do, but where ultimately you’ll be able to relax without worrying that you’re missing out.
Think about your accommodation
I think one of the things that made this trip so relaxing was the lodge we stayed at. It had a super king size bed, a huge bath, a cosy living room (with sea views) and a hot tub - all of which made it so much easier to switch into relaxation mode. Think about your accommodation and how the environment will help you on your quest for zen.
Turn your notifications off
This is the biggest game changer I think - turn your notifications off. And I’m not just talking about email, I’m talking about Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp, the lot. There’s nothing worse than being distracted from a beautiful sunset or a delicious meal by a flashing screen, and you’ll soon find that with no notifications to distract you, you’ll be reaching for your phone less and less.
Notice the little things
I find that a really quick and effective way to relax into that slow holiday mood is to pay real attention to the little things. The birds singing, the colour of the sky, the quality of the air around you - zoning in on these seemingly small things can really root you in the present moment and help you to slow down your frantic brain.
Lean into what feels good
Something that we did differently on this trip was letting go of the need for big holiday plans. This meant we were able to take each day as it came and spend our time doing what felt good to us in that moment, rather than rattling through a big itinerary. Some days that meant heading out and exploring the island, and some days it meant staying at home with a book, but having that freedom was a game changer when it came to our overall relaxation.
Let go of the guilt
Finally, if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably feel a bit guilty kicking back and relaxing without a care in the world. We’re taught to chase after productivity at every turn, but the truth is, these little breaks allow us to do bigger and better work in the long run. Let go of the guilt and soak up the relaxation while you can.
What are your thoughts on slow holidays? Do you love them or hate them?