Yes, high-tech hotel rooms can be fun but they can also be distracting from the real reason we often travel: To connect with our new surroundings and the local culture and to take time to savor the moment.
There are numerous ways to slow down while you travel -- leave the phone behind or visit some place remote, among others. But if you want to slow down and dig a little bit deeper, here are seven trips for you to consider.
Hang out with locals
What better way to get to know your surroundings than through a home stay? Through G Adventures' Local Living trips, you can travel the globe by staying local. Head to Iceland, the Amalfi Coast or even the Amazon Jungle in Ecuador, where you'll stay four nights with a local Quichua family before heading back to Quito.
Note: This is not the exact location of the homestay.
Head to a formerly-abandoned medieval village
The formerly-abandoned village of Castiglioncello del Trinoro underwent a labor of love restoration thanks to Ohio lawyer Michael Cioffi. The medieval village, in the heart of the Val d'Orcia region, now has the 10-room Hotel Monteverdi, three villas, a newly-restored 12th century chapel and a slew of artistic and cultural events. The hotel features designs by indigenous artisans, stonemasons and builders. There's a privately-sponsored archaeological dig happening that you can take part in, too.
Visit the Ogasawara Islands
In this case, it's not the destination, it's the journey. All 25-plus hours of ferry ride, that is. The Ogasawara (often called the Bonin) Islands sit 621 miles from Tokyo. Since the island chain has never been adjacent to a continent, the 100 kinds of indigenous plants and 14 native animals have evolved differently here. It's an unbelievable eco-system that's actually tropical...while still being in Japan.
Take a barge trip in France or anywhere, really
There's no better home base to have than a (slowly) moving one. You'll be able to take in your surroundings as you drift through locks and small canalside towns. French Country Waterways and Abercrombie & Kent, among others, offer wonderful tours in France, Ireland and Scotland, among other locales.
Take a train ride from Vancouver to Toronto
It takes four days to schlep the nearly 2,800 miles from coast to coast(ish). You'll stop at 65 stations (not including departure and arrival stations) throughout the trip, all while taking in our northern neighbor's beautiful scenery in a glass-roofed train car. The train runs three times a week back and forth during peak season (May through October).
Visit a Cittaslow town
The word Cittaslow translates to "slow city" in Italian, where the movement began. Accredited towns dot the world -- mostly in Europe -- and adhere to the notion of present, easy living. Experience all these places have to offer abroad, or stay stateside. There are three in the U.S., including Sebastopol and Sonoma Valley, California, which was the first in the country.
Savor the Tuscan countryside
There's an 800-year-old medieval village named Calstelfalfi in Tuscany just waiting for you to play in. It's being restored and developed from a five-inhabitant town to include a castle, boutique hotel and restaurant, complete with 2,700 acres of vineyard and olive groves. The 31-room Hotel La Tabaccaia used to be a factory that dried tobacco for Tuscan cigars. Now visitors can enjoy their beautiful surroundings learning about local dishes at the cooking school, go truffle hunting with the chef, study Terracotta with locals and even go food foraging.