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In this era of snapshots, bucket lists and fast-paced lifestyles, a culture of haste reigns supreme. At some point, we inevitably feel the urge to slow down, step back, finally stop running around and restore order to the daily whirlwind. Then comes the time for a vacation to escape this wild tempo. So it’s natural that travel has evolved and embraced this need to slow down. Today, slow travel is gradually gaining ground as an essential option. An alternative travel philosophy has developed that focuses on the quality of the time spent rather than on the number of things done. It’s all about the way you do things. Experiencing less but better is the new guiding principle. It’s a matter of the time you take to deepen experiences.

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How long has it been since you turned off your cellphone for a whole day? Are hunting down the WiFi code, turning on your screens and starting the air conditioning before you even open the window the first things you do when you arrive at your vacation destination? These unconscious everyday actions have become reflexes. Really getting away may simply mean stopping everything and focusing on what’s essential: conversing with the friends or loved ones who are with us, playing it by ear, listening to the birds and meditating by the ocean. Forget about being connected—it’s time to unwind.

At the Three Camel Lodge, you’ll enjoy the moment with luxurious yurts in the heart of the Gobi Desert. Organic vegetables grown on site, wildflowers, the vastness of the Mongolian sky—and you. Immersed in endless landscapes, you’ll watch the passing of caravans, like in the days of the Silk Road. When you see nomads and their camels suddenly coming your way, this human touch in the centre of a vast nothingness has a way of provoking deep joy.

Stopping time—maybe in Wolwedans, deep in southern Africa, this will happen. The NamibRand Nature Reserve is the heart of an ethical project: a camp, a lodge, a few refined cabins scattered throughout 1,000 hectares of pristine wilderness. There’s no network, no WiFi—but so many animals! Here, you listen to the wind caressing the sand. With its unreal red-hued dunes as your only horizon, Namibia will undoubtedly disconnect you from the rest of the world so that you can reconnect with yourself.

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To reacquaint yourself with the value of time going by, why not take advantage of your journey by changing your mode of transportation? For example, you could have an ancient adventure on the deck of a legendary boat. You’re invited onto the Nile, the eternal river. Aboard Steamship Sudan, between Aswan and Luxor, time flows at a different pace. The golden age of ancient Egypt suddenly springs to life. The shorelines glide slowly by as fishers ply the banks. On the wooden decks, you find yourself reimmersed in a book too long forgotten on your nightstand. Your eyes soak in the undulating shades of green, blue and ochre light. Ancient myths, hieroglyphics carved in stone and colossi of old patiently await you on the other side of the horizon. But perhaps the mythical temples will be eclipsed by the idleness of your life aboard the ship.

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How many times have you only crossed paths with people during your travels? At the end of busy days, you may have spoken only to servers or your hotel concierge. Embracing slow travel also means taking the time to get to know others. Get your bearings and soak up the neighbourhood or village where you’ve set down your luggage. An original way to experience a place is undoubtedly experiencing it like a local. A unique service of Voyageurs du Monde, the “Local Friend” offers an authentic moment spent with a local resident.

This is the friend you would dream of having all around the world, one who knows the place inside out and offers interested travellers an informal excursion based on their tastes. At their side, you enjoy their advice and address book: visiting trendy neighbourhoods, excellent little restaurants, a secret cove and a beautiful terrace for a drink at sunset while learning about local life and customs. It makes for a special educational time among friends. Whether pausing for a strong coffee in Istanbul or spending an evening setting the world right in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Bangkok, time around a table brings people together.

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Change your type of accommodation by renting a house or apartment, for example. Eat meals with locals and spend time getting to know them. Plan a less busy schedule, loosen up your itinerary and stay longer in the same neighbourhood, city or even region. Put aside your list of things that must be seen and done. Forget about taking pictures and sending news to loved ones back on another continent. Slow travel is perhaps the very spirit of travel: knowing how to enjoy the moment.

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