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Slow Summer Living

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Our family experiment in slow living—aka “Slowvember”—has continued long after the month I wrote about for Spirit. We Hochmans are planning a Slow summer, complete with several slow trips, slow get-togethers, and pine-scented slow ambles. Before I tell you how you and yours can make the most of doing less this summer, a word from a leader of the Slow movement and the author of The Slow Fix, Carl Honore: 

"Switch off the phones and gadgets as much as possible. Don't plan too much in advance. Leave chunks of time open for resting or serendipity. Cook and share one meal per day together. Band together with other families to create an informal summer camp where one parent oversees the kids indulging in informal, outdoor fun each day."

To that, I’ll add the following:

Stay Put

Let everyone else crowd the national parks, campgrounds, and “must-see” spots this summer. A purposeful break from your usual home routine is an inexpensive way to recharge without the stress that comes from even the most noble-sounding getaways. (Mount Rushmore on Fourth of July weekend, anyone? We neither.) Make a list ahead of time of 10 local activities you’ve wanted to try but haven’t—pedal the length of a new bike path, find the nearest farm, take the bus everywhere instead of a car, visit a church you’ve seen a thousand times but never entered—and jump in.

Vacation S-L-O-W-ly

If you do choose to travel, abide by the principles that guided us through Slowvember. Savor your trip, even the airport delays (Hey, there’s Spirit to keep you company). Listen to Your Inner Clock and don’t rush to see everything in a city or destination if you’d rather, say, sit somewhere and people watch. Strive to put Others Before Technology—and have your kids do it, too. You won’t see the world around you if your nose is stuck in your i-Whatever. Any opportunities you have to see real faces instead of Facebook, take them. Finally, in making summer choices, take a moment to consider: Will This Matter A Year From Now? The backseat brigade is driving you nuts asking, “Are we there yet?” But by next summer, the 12-year-old back there might not care enough to ask. Enjoy it now.

Let Locals Be Your Guide

Here’s a bold idea: Show up somewhere without reservations or a plan. True, that might not work during peak season at the Grand Canyon, but consider heading out on a road trip with no set itinerary. Let serendipity be your guide by consulting with willing informants along the way. Ask good questions: “What’s the best restaurant around here to feel like a local, not a tourist?” “Where would you send an out-of-towner who wants to get the most out of a short visit here?” “Anything special about this place I might not know just from reading guidebooks?” “What’s your favorite excursion within an hour’s drive of here?” You never know where you’ll end up.

David Hochman’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Esquire, and Travel + Leisure.