What is the Art of Slow Travel and How Can I Master It?

Have you ever come home from a holiday feeling more exhausted than when you left? Like you finally understand the what-once-seemed-crazy meaning behind the notion of ‘needing a holiday after the holiday’. From work, family and managing social lives and everything else in between, there’s no denying that we all live busy, stressful lives. In an attempt to settle the crazy, it’s not uncommon for holidays to be booked in order to take a break. However, so often, we fall into the trap of feeling like we have to ‘fit as much as we can’ into these small periods of time. Meaning, that those relaxing getaways turn into frantically paced adventures, as we rush from one tourist attraction to the next.

However, there is a grassroots movement that has been quietly emerging as a solution to ‘tourist burnout’; slow travel.

While the slow travel movement has been emerging for some time, the role that it plays now, particularly as we look to what travel will be like in a post-covid world, says a lot about what we can expect holidaying to look like for the continued future. 

It’s no secret that travel won’t be the same as it was, however, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Cities will be quieter, popular sites not so overcrowded and the air less polluted.

Over the past year, the world has had a bit of a break – a breather, if you will – and while the travel and tourism industry globally has suffered hugely, the pandemic has taught us that travel is a privilege, not a right.

While the road ahead may still be a little bumpy, there is hope around the corner, especially with new air corridors opening up and better testing protocols becoming available. 

So, rather than looking at where we’ll be able to travel in 2021 and beyond, we’re looking at how we will travel; taking the best bits of what’s always drawn us to travel and that has kept our adventurous spirits alive – connecting with like-minded people in new places, learning about local cultures and the challenge that comes with discovering something new – and combining them with a travel style that is more sustainable and better for the planet.

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If the past 12 months have taught us anything, whenever the magic of international travel is open to the world again, it’s more important than ever that we travel the right way.

What is slow travel?

An offshoot of the slow food movement, which originated in Italy in 1986 as a protest against the opening of a McDonald’s in Rome, slow travel is an approach to travel that emphasizes connections; to people, cultures, food and music. It’s a mindset that relies on the idea that a holiday is meant to educate and have an emotional impact, whilst remaining sustainable for local communities and the environment.

In a time where travel has increasingly become about visiting the most ‘Instagrammable’ locations around the world, slow travel encourages people to embrace what local communities have to offer and to adopt a mindset that quality of experience outweighs the quantity of your experiences.

To clarify, the inclusion of the term ‘slow’ doesn’t mean ‘go and book a year long holiday’, it simply means ‘turn down the tempo’. Instead of arriving at a destination and rushing your way through a checklist of experiences and sites, practice being present and connecting to a destination; taste the local food, experience the culture and wildlife, and, most importantly, return home feeling relaxed and refreshed.

The benefits of slow travel

Slow travel has several benefits for both travellers and communities alike. Here’s some of our top reasons why you should consider slow travel in the future:

Avoid ‘Tourist Burnout’

Often when planning a holiday, people feel pressured to pack in as many sights as possible into a single trip, often leading to feelings of what has been coined as ‘tourist burnout’.

Rather than putting together an extensive list of ‘must see’ items, reframe your mindset to reject the pressures of traditional tourism and instead focus on remaining open to new experiences.

A Sustainable Way to Travel

Slow travel is at the root of responsible travel, or eco-tourism. Instead of flitting around from destination to destination, by staying in one place for longer, you can reduce the environmental impact of your holiday.

And when you do want to move on, by choosing sustainable slow travel as your how, you have plenty of options for travel between destinations on low-emitting transit, such as buses, trains and boats.

Plus, by staying in one place for longer, you also get to experience life as a local would; you become part of the community and therefore contribute to the local economy.

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Slow Travel Advice – How to Do It

The biggest slow travel tip that we can share in order to help you to get started is to simply shift your perspective and get started! Afterall, slow travel is merely a state of mind. Here are some things you can do on your next holiday to help you embrace a slower way of travelling:

Spend Longer In a Destination

The most obvious way to embrace slow travel and the easiest, is to simply stay in one place for longer. With the rise in remote working in the wake of covid, the possibility of simple ‘being’ abroad, and combining work and holidaying may become a likely scenario.

Live Like a Local

When you arrive at your destination, get to know the local people around you – find out where their favourite places are to eat and hang out, as well as any other tips they may have.

Visiting local markets and learning about local foods that are in season is also a great way for you to pick up new recipes to try at home. There really are so many ways in which you can immerse yourself in a culture and become part of the local community.

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Don’t Overplan

Try to make an effort to not see everything on your list – leave space for chance. While it’s a good idea to have a rough plan of the destination you’re visiting, you don’t want to overdo the experience by feeling like you have to tick off a long list of sights and activities.

The best experiences come from those that happen unexpectedly, so embrace being present and allow room for more enriching adventures.

At Trafalgar, we’re committed to making travel matter. In 2008, we formed the TreadRight Foundation to ensure that our love of travel was protected for future generations. Our vision was (and still is) simple; to ensure our impact on the planet we call home, the people we visit, and the rich wildlife we encounter is a positive one.

With more than 55 projects across 26 countries already completed or underway, 2021 has seen the next evolution of our commitment, with the launch of our How We Tread Right 5 year sustainable travel strategy that supports the United Nations Global Sustainability Development goals.

For more information on Trafalgar’s commitment to sustainable travel and make travel matter experiences, please visit our website.

One Response

  1. Anonymous

    The whole concept of “slow travel” – wonderful idea! Especially for our age group – those of us in our seventies, who hopefully still see travel in our future (if done right) and we have the disposable income to do so. We still feel most comfortable and “looked after” as part of a tour group, but we do believe also that the hectic pace of travel can lower one’s immune system through lack of sleep in maintaining such a hectic pace.
    The move towards more frequent 2-night stays was a good beginning but now with creativity some days can certainly be built in that would include some shorter planned activities. That is not to say that just having a “free” day somewhere or an 8-hour bus ride to the next stop necessarily fills the bill – when this happens clients don’t really feel they are getting good value for their money. Again, this pandemic will require major creativity going forward on the part of tour companies. But, we are confident you are up for the challenge.

    Reply

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