Slow Travel for Boomer Women


By Debi Lander


Debi Lander, a freelance writer, and photographer specializing in travel, food, and lifestyle, shares some of her favorite lessons learned from the road, especially those garnered during her six-month European adventure Big Blend Radio.


Slow travel means moving beyond the typical half-day tour or cruise excursion – – it requires “interacting” with a place. Making a connection to the environment brings meaningful memories. These connections happen in many ways and don’t need to be costly. The following motto reminds me to create these experiences – – The “real” Seven Wonders of the World: To See; To Hear; To Touch; To Taste; To Feel; To Laugh; To Love. I try to indulge each the senses on all of my trips.

As a photographer, seeing is easy. I’m trained to look for an inspiring visual, sometimes taking a peek from above or below the typical standing view. If that’s not for you, simply sit and observe.  People watching becomes a grand pastime, even better when lingering at an outdoor cafe.

To hear means to listen, perhaps to the sound of bees buzzing, music at a concert, or children playing. Does this new place sound different than your home?

To touch brings hands-on adventure, perhaps in a touch-pool of stingrays at an aquarium, maybe just the feel of foreign money in your hands. Tactile memories become embedded in the brain too.

Dining ranks as one of the most pleasurable travel experiences. Tasting means being willing to try local food and drink. Be careful about water and raw foods in third world countries, but dig in!

To feel is not the same as to touch. It’s noticing sunshine on your face or the cold of a cave. Pause and embrace the joy of a place you only dreamed of standing. 

To laugh, especially at yourself, intensifies recollections, and often generates the best travel stories. Who cares if you look silly? Many of my Kodak moments come from donning costumes or hats.

Finally, to love is to open up to others or perhaps a new way of life.  Unfamiliar territory may feel disconcerting at first, but differences soon become understandable. On a Volunteer Vacation in Tanzania, I fell in love with the children having so little, but always a smile on their face. My compassion and connection to Africa were deepened.  

Try to remember the Seven Wonders and incorporate them on your next trip.

Another favorite saying of mine or the motto of slow travel paraphrases a Robert Frost line, “Two roads diverged in the woods … I took the road less traveled.”
When you plan a trip, build in time to leave major cities behind, for small villages and towns or nature. Cede the hotspots to the crowd. Here’s how I accomplish this:

Stay in an AirBnB – I used Airbnb’s instead of hotels on an extended trip through Europe. Almost all these overnights were very positive, whether homes, apartments, a caravan (trailer), and even a tiny house. I always met the owner or local representative who showed me the property, seeking the freely- offered tips on local grocery shopping, restaurants, and attractions. Some owners left homemade goodies or a bottle of wine. My home-cooked meal saved money but meant a trip to the market – always a worthwhile endeavor.   

Hire a Private Guide – Hiring a private guide allows you to see exactly what you want. Licensed local guides have an excellent understanding of the history, culture, geography and logistics of a site. They frequently can get you quicker entry or behind-the-scenes access. Consider guides who lead specialized tours in art, photography, archeology, architecture or food. Investigate free walking tours available in many foreign cities, frequently given by local university students working for tips.

  • Burg Khalifa Elevator in Dubai
    Burg Khalifa Elevator in Dubai

Take a Class – I fondly recall formal classes or hands-on lessons while traveling. I especially enjoy cooking classes but have dabbled in watercolor, sculpture, woodworking, metal craft, and decorative arts. At the National Tile Museum in Portugal, I signed up to paint my own tile. The memento (indeed no masterpiece), now a kitchen hot pad, takes me back to Lisbon often.

Get Physical – I empathize with those who suffer knee, hip, foot and back problems. They give me another reason to travel slow, with extra time to rest. Physical limitations are also your mind’s way of advising you to tour now, while you can. My usual day – – getting out early, eating lunch, then returning to rest before more exploring in the late afternoon/evening. To prepare for a big trip, start a walking program at home. A little weight training also helps in lifting heavy luggage. 

Climb every mountain or hill, cathedral dome or bell-tower you can – – the fantastic views are worth the huffing and puffing on the ascent. Not much compares with seeing Notre Dame and Paris from the gargoyles point of view! If an elevator is available, so much the better.  We Boomer women need to nudge ourselves out of our comfort zones to reach such “heights.” Consider bicycle tours, horseback or mule rides, hot air ballooning, helicopter tours, boats, gondolas, or carriages — whatever is available.  Hiking truly connects me to nature and the landscape of a destination.  One adventure that stands out came from a day trip to Plitvice National Park in Croatia. Slowly hiking and photographing the surreal waterfalls and scenery for hours, I managed to stop only for lunch. Unforgettable!

Local Treats – When in Rome, do as the Romans, in China that’s Tai Chi for me. Women typically love spa treatments. I’ve relished a variety of those around the globe.  I gave myself a Dead Sea mud bath in Jordan, plunged into a hole in the ice after a sauna in Canada, visited the thermal baths in Budapest, and tried the communal hot springs (Onsen baths) in Japan. These were not expensive self-indulgent spas, but places were locals went. 

If you love shopping, add it to your agenda, but I feel my photos make the best souvenirs. Put together a photo book when you return, and you’ll relive the good times over and over. 

“Life is short, take the trip, buy the shoes, eat the cake.” Enough said.

Debi Lander is a freelance writer, and photographer specializing in travel, food, and lifestyle. When traveling, she focuses on historic and cultural sites, unique lodging options, culinary experiences, and adventure activities. North Florida residents have been reading Debi’s monthly travel column in the Florida Newsline publications for the past seven years.  She also frequently pens feature articles for Business Jet Traveler, DeSoto Magazine, Boca Raton Observer, a Boomer website –, culinary stories for, and reviews hotels and meeting space for Facilities & Destinations, a magazine for meeting planners/ incentive travel planners. Her website,, brings the best of her global journeys to readers via links to her published stories and highlights from her travel journal. Look for her photos on Debi is an active member of the Society of American Travel Writers and the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association.

International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association One Hour Walk



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About the Author:

Debi Lander is a freelance writer, and photographer specializing in travel, food, and lifestyle.

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