These days, pro-travelers, bloggers, and average tourists alike love to rattle off all the countries they’ve visited, flexing their travel muscles racking up 30, 40, maybe even 50 countries on their lists. Many people seem to be focused on visiting the most places possible rather than really experiencing the culture, history, natural beauty and cuisine one place has to offer. But have you ever thought of just taking the pace down a few notches? That’s where slow travel finds its place.
Slow travel isn’t just a relaxing vacation on a beach in Hawaii or the Bahamas, it’s a method used by travelers who like to really get to know the country, city, or region they’re exploring. And the benefits of slow travel could pay off tenfold for you and for the planet.
It can be incredibly difficult to fully determine if you love a place unless you’ve spent a few weeks or even months there. Backpackers who hop around Europe or Asia may spend two to three days in one place, but never have enough time to soak it all in. Slow travel encourages travelers to pick one place and plant themselves there in order to experience their surroundings, rather than settle for the instant gratification of seeing all the Instagrammable sights and moving on.
An article from Conde Nast Traveler exploring the topic states: “Slow travel means tamping down our own built-in conditioned obsession with time and allowing the world to move just a little slower so that we can actually notice it.”
It’s also an environmental movement. Similar to slow fashion and slow food movements, slow travel seeks to reduce environmental impact by reducing consumption. Instead of McDonald’s fries or clothes from H&M, slow travel asks travelers to quite literally travel slowly by taking trains, bikes, buses, as well as walking, to travel around.
Why would you walk or take trains to your destination if you could just take a zippy flight there? Flights around the world have proven to be one of the biggest contributors to environmental carbon emissions. Studies have found that flying accounts for around 2.5% of all carbon emissions. You can purchase carbon offsets for your flights, but could this just be a way to make consumers feel a bit better about how their flights, especially short-haul ones, and how they affect the planet?
Whether you’re considering slow travel as a way to truely experience and enjoy new cultires and destinations, or to help protect the planet, you may find it offers a more fulfilling way to travel.