Slow travel is a trend every serious globetrotter should consider

May 6 2019, 2:18 pm

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

Most of us are familiar with this quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, yet few heed its advice as travel has exploded into a fast and furious industry.

Travel is more efficient than ever before. While it took five days to cross the Atlantic in the 1900s, it now takes less than eight hours. Thanks to the emergence of mass tourism and modern technology, we’re witnessing a travel boom of epic proportions. Statista reports that global air traffic has skyrocketed from 1.9 billion passengers in 2004 to 4.3 billion in 2018.

With such immense growth, one might guess that the industry prioritizes quantity over quality. With 2017 being a record year for tourism and 2018 predicted to top it once the World Tourism Organization releases their official findings, statistics show that the travel industry is cashing in more than ever.

The ‘quantity over quality’ mentality that is inherent in making travel an industry affects travellers too. There’s now a widespread perception that the more destinations one ticks off, the better. There seem to be travellers out there who are solely preoccupied with tallying countries or reaching #30by30.

 

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The antithesis to this is the slow travel movement.

The concept of slow travel has been around and in practice for a while, but popularity for the movement is rising.

What is slow travel?

Slow travel is, well, travelling slow. Duh.

But it’s also a conscious approach that embodies philosophies of the slow movement. In fact, its roots lie in the 1980s slow food movement.

The slow travel mindset prioritizes connection above all else and believes that true connection requires slowing down. Slow travellers believe that less is more. They sacrifice “seeing everything” and instead, take a step back from their itineraries to observe, experience, and connect with places on a deeper level.

Making a deeper connection might involve staying in one place long enough to get a proper lay of the land, meeting some locals, and observing daily life. Slow travellers generally want enough time to explore, immerse themselves, and put their finger on the pulse of a given place.

At the end of the day, slow travellers value connection and believe this leaves a lasting impression compared to the rush of racing from one attraction to another.

Why is slow travel trending?

People are burned out

 

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As the world changes and the pace of our daily lives picks up, people are searching for a way to just chill. Many of who set off on a Euro trip quickly discover that squeezing everything into a two-week travel itinerary is actually exhausting. Some take this lesson and head to an all-inclusive resort the next time around while others might eventually adopt the concept of slow travel, whether consciously or not.

Some tour companies are responding by creating slower travel itineraries. “With an ever-increasing pace in our daily lives, full of overflowing schedules, [we find] clients are wanting to slow down, relax and reconnect with travel,” a tour company told Lonely Planet.

People care about the environment

 

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Slow travel is not just good for your health and well-being but also benefits the planet. Slow travel often involves trains, boats, planes, bicycles, or your own to feet. These modes of transportation are far more sustainable than jet-setting so the slower your travel, the smaller your carbon footprint.

People who aren’t in a rush also tend to behave in more sustainable ways too. Dining in instead of grabbing food on-the-go reduces packaging and waste. Taking a morning off from sightseeing gives you time to do research and make responsible choices — like finding an amazing eco-hostel or discovering an off-grid getaway. Slowing down also means being in the right frame of mind to remember your reusable water bottle before you hit the pavement.

Finally, those who linger in a place long enough to form connections simply grow to care more about that environment. Unlike the ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’ and ‘onto the next one’ mentality, cultivating a meaningful relationship is one way to show respect for the places we visit and balance the fundamentally unsustainable act of travel.

People want to explore the meaning of travel

 

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Though it can happen in many ways, many people reach a point where they begin to question their reasons for traveling. This re-evaluation is more common amongst experienced travellers who have gone through the growing experiences of backpacking and solo traveling (not to mention their fair share of ticking bucket list items).

It might also happen if a dream destination disappoints or when Aningslosainfluencers (“Clueless Influencers”) singles you out for your carbon footprint. 

Whether you’re burning out, turning over a greener leaf, or getting back in touch with your inner traveller — you may want to consider adopting the philosophy of slow travel. 

We ultimately believe that the purpose and method behind anyone’s travels is a very personal and sacred thing.

That said, slowing down just might make you fall in love with travel all over again.