Reinvigorating Slow Travel
What is Slow Travel?
There are a lot of great articles out there telling you what slow travel is. They all seem to agree that it derived from the Slow Food movement in Italy in the 1980s. And they all agree that it is about experiencing a place, its people and their culture rather than just ticking off a bucket list. It is a mindset more than anything else.
Yet, the only one I read that even touches on an experience with nature is Travlinmad’s The Power of Slow Travel. It surprised me also, how many of these authors don’t seem to have published anything in years. It’s like Slow Travel has been forgotten about. So, let’s refresh what slow travel is about:
- Experiencing the culture your destination
- Making the journey part of the trip, not just the destination
- Embracing local customs, such as food, in your destinations
- Getting to know locals
- Visiting only what you can process in a day and avoiding information overload
- Taking time to appreciate nature and its beauty
An expanded definition of Slow Travel
I propose we expand the definition of slow travel to also include an indepth experience with the natural world. With this notion, I by no means want to diminish the importance of getting to know the locals, sharing their customs, trying their foods and a traveling pace that allows you to actually process all the impressions of a day.
All those things are vitally important and I often wonder how we lost sight of them. But sometimes, the essence of a destination lies in the trees and lakes. Any hiker, I invite to comment to share their opinion. But I am failry sure you would all agree.
Slow travel can also mean being one with nature. Forestbathing can be a good example for that. If you want to know more, check out my article on Forest Bathing in Jacques Cartier National Park.
Is Slow Travel an invention of marketing for millenials?
The term surely is. But the concept has been around for as long as travel has been. After all, artists have been inspired by their travels and by nature for centuries. Antonín Dvořák composed New World Symphony only because he reflected on his destination. Not because he went sightseeing and checked New Amsterdam off his bucket list.
And you don’t always have to go far. Claude Monet is the best proof of that. His impressionist paintings are inspired by ponds and flowers in his literal backyard. To me, that is what slow travel is about. It’s about connecting with a place. If you are a social person a connection via it’s people may come naturally to you.
How to slow travel
However, that doesn’t mean you cannot slow travel if you are shy of strangers. You can connect with a place in so many ways. If a place inspires you, you have connected. If it leaves a mark on you in any way and your life got even a little better because of an experience you had there, you have traveled.
For some people this will include encounters will animals. Here again, it is so important to make sure that travelers leave wild animals wild. It’s not about the riding elephants and camels so much as it is about understanding the introcracy of the ecosystem in which an animal naturally lives. About it’s place in that ecosystem and its effects on the habitat.
Slow Travel is about the connection
Lori and Angelo of Travlinmad put it very well when they wrote
speed disrupts the connection you have with the landscape around you
This is why slow travel so often includes modes of transportation other than airplanes. At the same time, not every hike or every cycle tour is automatically Slow Travel.
You can use your bike to get from point A to point B without learning anything about you or your surroundings. You can hike for excercise reasons without ever paying attention to the chirping birds next to you. Slow Travel is about noticing those things and building a connection.
And yes, that leaves room for reflection which in turn often strengthens the relationship to yourself.
Journey that give you stories
When you focus on the experience rather than rushing from attraction to attraction, you will travel deeper into the heart of a place. You will notice moments like I described in my Porto Stories or you will come back remembering the 3 kindest business owners I met in Canada
Often, Slow Travel is associated with authentic experiences. Therefore, in my ultimate Canada bucket list of experiences you will not find a single item that is tied to a tourist attraction. Rather, I gathered experiences that helped me connect to and learn about Canada.
Why should you try it
Ah, you mean besides the obvious benefits? You won’t need a vacation from your vacation. You practice community tourism and help local economies and communities. Effortlessly you will have a lower environmental impact.
And do you know what else is great about Slow Travel? You avoid crowds! It’s much easier to keep your distance from people when you are not surrounded by tourists wanting to take pictures for their Instagram accounts. Not only does that make it the perfect style of travel for introverts. But post pandemic, I imagine it’ll more popular than ever before for health reasons.
What is Slow Travel to you? What was your last slow travel experience? Comment below!