Is slow travel the next big thing?
What is slow travel? Slow travel is a mindful alternative where you take into account choosing an alternative way of transportation. But more than that is focusing on the experience and getting the most out of your journey.
The concept has its roots in the “slow food movement” which began in Italy in the 1980’s. As a protest against the opening of a well known fast-foot chain. The goal was to preserve the local cuisine. The traditional ways of preparing food. And the cultural aspects of enjoying food as a communal activity. Since then it boomed into a “Slow Movement” altogether. With focus not only on food, but on travelling, learning and living.
What makes the mindset of a slow traveller?
The values of a slow traveller include the care for the environment. Empowering the local economies and making the authenticity of their journey and the destination experience a focal point. Therefore, we can say that the slow travel approach is one fuelled by awareness. By the drive to be a more conscious traveler.
How do you achieve that?
It starts with a research of where you would like to spend your time off. Some places are more suited for slow travelling than others but what matters at the end is how you travel. Of course where possible the best advice is to avoid flying. But if you are planning to go for example to Asia and you are living in South America that would prove to be quite impractical. That is not to say that you can’t slow travel after you’ve reached the destination.
A second aspect would be choosing your accommodation. It is important to have in mind that your decision will impact the local economy. It is a big statement, but it is also true. Choosing to stay at a local hotel. At bed and breakfast or a rented apartment over an international chain of hotels will make a difference. And we don’t have any excuses not to do it, we have all the necessary tools available nowadays.
Finally, the most important aspect in my opinion, you need to slow down. Quite obvious, you could say, but surely the most challenging to achieve. Instead of jampacking your sightseeing list keep it short and simple. I am a planner myself and it took me a while to embrace the “go with the flow” attitude. Talk to the locals, they are the best guides you could have. Remember your focus should be on the quality of the trip. In order to achieve that you must be present.
Don’t get me wrong we all love those candid pictures that we see on social media. People being so at ease while immersing themselves in their experience. But that is all that they are, perfect pictures. Taken 10 times till you get the right angle and the right light exposure.
While no one says that we shouldn’t have those mementos, if we would invest half of the time spent to get them into actually experiencing the place we are visiting, learning a thing or two about the people and the culture, our journey would become exponentially more rewarding.
Two types of slow travellers.
First, if you have a lot of time at disposal, which I believe is not the case for a lot of us, you can travel slow to get to your destination and while there as well. This is the ideal case but it is not the only available option.
Secondly, you can opt for doing your slow travel once you reach your destination. If you’ll do research on slow travel you would find out that the recommended lengths of your trip should be at least two weeks.
Well, I disagree with that. It can be a weekend escape and still be able to make the most of it. Hell, you don’t even have to travel abroad. Most of us fail to see the multitude of places we can discover within our own countries.
Shall we slow travel?
Slow travel isn’t about the time, but about the way you choose to spend that time. I often find myself doubting the impact of my decision to travel slow. But then remind myself that the intention is more important.
Yes. I would love for this to become a mass initiative. And for everyone to understand how much more we and the world can benefit from it. But it would probably take a few more decades for this movement to get there. That is not to say that we should be discouraged. Change in mentality doesn’t happen overnight, but with small, tiny, baby steps.
If you make the decision to choose this over the traditional way of travelling, that is great. And after you are convinced of its benefits, if you convince one more friend to do it, you have made a difference. Small as it is, you can own it and be proud of it, remember the baby steps.