In many ways the newest travel trend is also the original; taking your time to travel through a country (rather than flying over it), immersing yourself in its landscapes and cultures, and moving beyond the bucket list highlights to explore deeper. It's more enjoyable, more ethical, and more sustainable.
The term “slow travel” itself is an offshoot of the slow food and slow fashion movements that have appeared in recent decades. These were reactions against the questionable ethics of cheap and unhealthy mass-market fast food that exploded in the 1980s, and the wastage and exploitation of the global fashion industry more recently. Both movements promote more ethical and sustainable practices in their industries, based around long-held traditions of producing for local needs, reducing waste, and prioritising health and social wellbeing over a quick profit.
Slow Travel follows a similar path, in that it is about getting back to basics, doing things in a measured and meaningful way, slowing down to make whatever you are doing (in this case traveling) a better version of itself.
In part the growing interest in Slow Travel is a reaction to overtourism, whereby historic cities or places of natural beauty have been swamped and at least partially destroyed by the volume of visitors. It is also supportive of the Flygskam movement championed by Greta Thunberg, which encourages people to stop flying and reduce carbon emissions, and a wider change amongst the public in recent years to consider the ethical and environmental footprint of what they are buying.
With borders opening again after 18 months of Covid restrictions, we should see more Slow Travel moving forward as people look to reconnect with nature and the wider world .
One way to picture a Slow Travel holiday can be to take any city you’ve visited on a cheap budget airline. Rather than staying for a weekend rushing around all the must-see spots in a 48-hour haze, instead imagine several days exploring like a local. Leisurely breakfasts at a café overlooking the river, cycling through a park to go browsing in a local market, and spending the afternoon at a cooking class or wine-tasting, before a memorable dinner at the best restaurant in town.
And then when you’ve “done” the city, instead of flying home you head out deep into the country to explore all the natural wonders and adventures that most tourists never got to experience. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?
For you, the traveller, the benefits include a stronger connection to the country and its people, and a deeper understanding of the culture and history. There is less rushing around so you’ll be more relaxed, maximising your enjoyment, and you’ll no doubt feel more inspired at the end of it all. Your carbon footprint is also far less than taking several city breaks or short holidays.
For the locals, more of them will feel the benefit of tourism as you venture beyond the headline sights, deeper and wider across the country.
We see the future of sustainable travel being all about less frequent, more in-depth trips. We simply have to reduce our addiction to cheap flights as a society if we want to challenge the climate crisis. Instead, we encourage you to ditch the mini-breaks and fly-and-flops, and replace them with one seriously special life-affirming trip every year or two.
Build-up up your holiday leave, your savings, and your carbon footprint "allowance" to spend longer properly exploring and enjoying your chosen corner of the world, in the way it was always meant to be.