2020 has certainly been a year of slowing down. Most people’s lives around the world have been sidelined due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We have been working from home, schooling from home, and in many cases, not traveling for work or recreation. We may all be feeling a bit confined these days or even feel deprived from exploration and travel with all of the restrictions that have been duly placed upon us. It is time to plan an escape!
Close your eyes, clear your thoughts, and imagine for a moment that you are reaching your travel destination – your favorite small town at the Jersey Shore. Hold on, forget imagining, just choose a local town, bike to or park near the business district, and walk the shops. It’s time to relax and turn on your exploratory mode. As you move along, physically slow down to the main street pace of life, a slower pace. Embrace and immerse yourself in that small town vibe way of life.
Have you ever thought about why tourist areas seem to operate at
a slower pace than other areas? Have you noticed we are compelled to slow down while visiting destinations? This is done completely
by design – slower road speeds, walkable areas, small seating arrangements or small parks. Slowing down the pace of life is a great relaxing mental exercise for us, as life gets so busy at times. Not only is slowing down beneficial for our state of mind, it is also a huge benefit to the local businesses and economy. Towns planned with slow tourism in mind inevitably become an economic driver for the area. It is about experiencing the area and building relationships with the locals, or in essence, becoming a local during your visit.
Slow tourism is described by Dr. Hayley Stainton in her blog, “Slow tourism explained: What why and where” at tourismteacher.com: “Generally speaking, people tend to associate slow tourism with a slower pace of life. Many of the stresses associated with travel are alleviated or reduced. Slow tourism involves spending longer in one place, getting to know the area and the community. Slow tourism involves the tourist slowing down, and often doing less, in order to gain a deeper understanding of the surroundings, community, and authentic culture.”
Can you think of a small town where you can easily slow down life and just be in the moment? How about local areas like Arnold Avenue in Point Pleasant Beach, or Main Street in Manasquan? Both of these locations have a mature and developed main street feel. Can you tell the difference in comparison to other local towns? How about Point Pleasant Borough? It has a great community feel for the locals living in it, but lacks the main street feel for visitors along it’s faster paced arterial streets. One of these arterials, Bridge Avenue, offers a com- pletely different and quaint experience at the very eastern end of it in Bay Head.
I task you to get out (safely) and immerse yourself in a local town you have not explored yet. Or even slow down in your own town and you may view it in a completely different light. Also, whilst exploring: tis’ the season – remember to shop small.