Recently, you may have heard the term ‘slow travel’. Slow travel is a trending buzzword in the sustainable travel community which offers an option to the traditional form of tourism which embodies a sped through tourism experience in order to visit as many attractions as possible.
Slow travel rather allows for travellers to enjoy, learn and most importantly to foster a connection with the destination or local activity and to tour how one just wants in an off-the-beaten-path way without the tightly scheduled and rushed itineraries to only popular tourism areas that traditional tourism offers.
What is slow travel?
Slow travel is a sustainable form of travel and tourism which has the same focus on local communities, education and the environment as ecotourism, however the unique focus of slow travel is to create a connection for the traveller. For example, being able to connect with one’s food by helping the locals work the farm, or to connect with the culture by engaging in cultural activities as a way to learn about them.
Put simply, slow travel is a mindset of simplicity and connection as an approach to travel. Although there may not be so much information available on the internet regarding this approach to travel, it can be considered in much the same way as concepts such as slow food or slow fashion in that it is the more sustainable approach which puts into practice awareness and consideration of the environment as a higher priority than that of fast production or traditional (fast) forms of tourism. Also known as: quality over quantity.
Benefits of slow travel
By prioritising only those tourism items which are important, the traveller is able to reduce the stress of the list of perceived “must-visits” associated with traditional tourism and rather to focus on peaceful, meaningful moments that create the memories which last a lifetime by concentrated their efforts on what the local community has to offer.
Creating deeper connections
By focusing one’s interests in the local community, travellers are more likely to make deeper connections with the people, the culture and even the food! When slowing down enough to truly appreciate what is around, travellers have the opportunity to understand what excites people, to experience the hosting culture and to learn so much more about the things which mould the current experience. Things such as weather, infrastructure or lack thereof, traditional agricultural methods and cultural mythos all play a large part in day to day experiences, but travellers rarely slow down enough to take the time to learn about those all-important aspects.
Benefitting small off-the-beaten-path communities
Large traditional tourism is typically immersed with corporate efforts in the surrounding areas disallowing for small communities or macro entrepreneurs to break into the business circle in these large tourism areas. Taking one’s tourism efforts into off-the-beaten-path areas and smaller communities, allows for the locals in these areas to undertake legitimate entrepreneurship in the tourism industry in order to make a living wage.
A more affordable trip
All of those tour packages, corporate hotels and popular restaurants cost a lot of money. By reducing the sheer amount of tour packages and focusing instead on a more “earthy” experience, one may be quite surprised at how much savings can be accomplished. Typically, accommodation which is situated outside of the general tourist areas, costs less. Similarly, oftentimes, local eating establishments which are not the heavily marketed neon signed buffets solely for tourists, not only offer more local fare but usually offer that fare at a price which suits the locals better as well.
How is slow travel sustainable?
Sustainability is one of the main focuses of slow travel and so slow travel is sustainable in many ways. By living like the locals do, priorities tend to shift to focus more on the community and what benefits them the most. By directing tourism profits into these small local communities, the traveller helps to create opportunities which may not be present otherwise. And by removing tourism profits from large tourism corporations, the traveller is voting with their wallet as a way to show that sustainability as a priority matters.
Does slow travel sound like a way you might like to tour during your next trip? Why not step out of your comfort zone and give it a try, even for just one day. You may have found a new way to enjoy travel destinations!
Do you enjoy learning about sustainable travel and ecotourism options?
Would you like to know more? To receive inspiration direct to your email inbox, please click here and register for the Ecotourism World newsletter!