With more and more young people experiencing 'burn out', it's no wonder movements like slow travel have been gaining traction over the years. We give the lowdown on what it actually is and how you can incorporate it into your travel behaviour.
Today our lives are split into two worlds - the hyper-real world of the fast and the reflective world of the slow. We find ourselves torn between these two worlds; constantly online and in-the-know with social media but longing to escape and disconnect just for a little while until we're refreshed and recharged.
This is where slow travel comes in. It rejects the fast-paced lifestyle and prioritises the journey, the experience and the connections that are made. Slow travel is an offshoot to the slow food movement. In Italy in the 1980s, a backlash ensued against the opening of a McDonald’s in Rome. Locals valued regional cuisine, traditional cooking methods, local farming; they valued quality over quantity, process over result. This mode of thinking gave way to a whole way of life, known as the Slow Movement. This aimed to address “time poverty” by focusing on fostering connections; with people, places and things.
With slow travel, journey is valued at the utmost and connection is imperative. Travel is treated almost synonymous to journey and landscape and in league with being a purposeful traveller. Along with being enriching, it is also one of the most sustainable ways to travel. Slow travel discourages flying regularly and the longer your length of stay in a destination, the more postive is the cultural exchange and the deeper your connection to the local community.
We recognise that slow travel requires time and money - which we may not always have at our disposal - but it starts with adopting small changes in our travel behaviour. So, even if you can’t travel slow in totality, you can approach your holiday with its mindset.
In aim of awakening your inner flaneur, we’ve drawn up a guide on how to become a slow traveller and add more meaning to your holiday.
A key ingredient in slow travel is mobility. Slow travel excludes planes altogether, so it's important to be able to carry and manage your luggage well, so that you're not held back on your journey. Even if you end up taking a long-haul plane, packing light and minimally will help you easily travel on buses, trains, cycling and walking. Not to mention, it's better for the environment. For tips on how to pack sustainably, read here.
Like with everything when it comes to travel: do you research. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint whilst maximising cultural immersion, look for journeys which can either be the trip itself or carve out a particular area or city in a country that you’d like to explore in depth. This almost always guarantees a more fulfilling experience rather than a shallow, stop-to-stop shuttle of attractions. Also, be mindful of the different transport links available to you between different stops on your journey.
This ties in with choosing wisely and also depends on how much time you have on your hands. Be realistic. If you only have two weeks, it's better to stay in just one area or city and commit to immersing yourself in that scenery and atmosphere. This way you'll come out of it, hopefully, feeling like you have really taken something away from it and avoids just skimming the surface. Less attractions to visit means more time at each one.
4. Walk or cycle where you can
As well as being better for the environment (and also great for that summer bod), this is the best form of slow travel because it exposes you to the environment. You'll find yourself stumbling across unexpected places, people and things you wouldn't have if you were in a car or train. It's here in the hidden details, that you'll grow into knowing a place and experiencing it for what it really is.
It's always important to go offline when on holiday and just follow your instincts when you're in a new place. This doesn't mean stumbling into a wooden forest unprepared, but simply putting these items of comfort somewhere safe and nearby (in case of emergencies) and letting the place and its people take you out of your comfort zone to experience something new.