In the modern context, the usual idea of traveling is to get from one point to another as quickly and safely as possible. This notion is evidenced by the development in technology that focuses on increasing vehicles’ speeds, such as that of Japan’s bullet trains and Europe’s supersonic passenger jets. However, recent discoveries concerning the earth’s climate conditions have inspired a social movement, encouraging tourists and vacationers to become environmentally and socially aware when traveling. Proponents have dubbed this “slow travel,” which emphasizes using modes of transportation that will cause lesser pollution, or hopefully, none at all. If you’re curious about slow travel and want to know more, check out these tips that will change the way you travel!
1. What is slow travel?
Slow travel is, as the name suggests, making your way from one destination to another at a pace far less frenetic than the modern way would take. It goes back to the days before the current level of technology dominated transportation methods and when travelers savored the sights and sounds of their journey. While it could be tempting to head from point A to point B immediately to save time, slow travel encourages the opposite by having you pace yourself.
You could also consider it a matter of mindset, wherein you can truly connect with the people and immerse yourself in the culture of the places you visit. Your purpose of traveling isn’t racking up proverbial notches of destinations visited, but you’re here to learn and to partake in what makes the place special.
This movement started from the slow food counter-culture in Italy back in the 1980s. Activists protested against the invasiveness of fast food restaurants displacing local businesses and the area’s culture. People began to question why there needed to be fast food restaurants at cultural sites when local establishments were far better representatives instead. The line of thought expanded, and the questioning shifted to not just about food but also topics such as traveling, staying, and even sightseeing.
2. Reasons to consider slow traveling
There are plenty of reasons for taking the slow and scenic route, many of which are also likely to be in tune with your sensibilities and practicalities. It could also involve deep-seated beliefs and ideals you think are worth fighting for. Here are some reasons to consider why it’s worth giving slow travel a shot:
It is a clean and green approach to reaching your destination and tries to forgo or lessen the reliance on high-carbon-footprint vehicles such as airplanes.
Slow travel is a much more economical alternative, especially due to how expensive plane tickets or shipping tickets can get.
It provides niches for existing and emerging technologies, especially those that create minimal or zero carbon footprints.
It lets you immerse yourself in the culture by staying in one place longer, so you can experience the depth and richness of the locals’ everyday lives.
It lets you do things at your own pace, so you won’t risk burning out trying to make the most of your vacation.
Slow travel provides unique experiences you won’t find from run-of-the-mill commercial tours because these activities are known only to actual locals.
3. Types of slow travel journeys
Slow traveling brings out the beauty of sustainable tourism in myriad ways. Making your way through vacation at a much more personal pace opens up new experiences you might not have come across before. Here are a few types of slow travel journeys that you can try for yourself:
The primary purpose of this slow travel is to visit relatives or friends that you haven’t seen in quite a while. These prolonged stays let you enjoy their company and appreciate your locality. If the place is far off and you are unfamiliar with the area, you can also avail a trusted local to help guide you around where to go.
Though usually done with a religious context, a pilgrimage type of slow journey can also be applied for those seeking a spiritual or philosophical bent to their trip for inner peace or personal rediscovery.
Road trips for the green crowd have become popular again due to the advent of electric vehicles replacing gas-burning ones. You can go sightseeing as you travel cross-country until you reach your destination.
This slow travel lets you become a helping hand first and a tourist second. Many eco-warriors around the world volunteer their skills and knowledge to communities, especially those in developing countries. You are not only fighting the ills of the world, but you also get to find some tucked-away beauty in far-off places.
Riding the sleeper trains
Though long-journey trains did dominate as the world’s transport of choice, their cleaner and greener modern counterparts are making a comeback as a choice for intercontinental travel for the environmentally aware. Plus, you’ll get more scenic views during the commute.
With usually a longer stay within a destination, backpacking is considered a type of slow travel since backpackers immerse themselves within the community by trying authentic local food, discovering cultural norms, and living the local life. By going the backpacker route, you’ll be traveling light, living only with what you have on you and in your bags. You’ll have to make full use of whatever public transport system is available in the place you’re visiting and save money by going for the best low-cost accommodations you can find.
Perhaps the mode of transport most associated with slow travel, cycling not only lets you travel with your zero-carbon vehicle, but you can also use it to traverse terrain cars won’t be able to pass through.
4. Tips on slow traveling
Slow travel isn’t everyone’s cup of tea since people have been accustomed to efficient traveling. However, considering how there are alternative options that will benefit the traveler, the environment, and society as a whole, slow travel guarantees a purposeful and worthwhile journey. If you are willing to give this a try, here are a few tips you can keep in mind.
Research and take heed of travel advisories regarding your destination, including weather conditions and political and social climate topics.
Not all countries have integrated bikes into their road culture. Even with bike lanes available, try to steer clear of main roads and opt for calmer backstreets instead.
Always have travel insurance, just in case something happens, such as a misadventure with food or a particularly nasty encounter with the local wildlife.
Adhere to social mores, especially if the country you’re traveling to has cultural and dress codes to follow.
If you’re going to live like a local, you can also shop economically as one. Even if your currency’s purchasing power is much more powerful than the local one, you can opt not to be tempted to live in comparative wealth.
If you have friends or connections, see if they can set you up with a host family to stay with. It provides a safe home and friendly locals whose company you can enjoy.
If you don’t have a host family, look for eco-lodges or cheap but safe boutique hotels.
Eat local, and not necessarily at fancy restaurants. Some of the best local cuisines are in the family-owned eateries that have been around for a while. Plus, you’ll be able to support local and small food businesses in the area.
Pack washable utensils and food containers instead of disposable ones to reduce potential waste.
Walk or bike to your destination, if feasible, to reduce your carbon footprint.
If you have to use a vehicle, try to look for public transport routes that use green vehicles, if available.
Shop at local and ethical markets supplied by farmers instead of supermarkets that use internationally shipped goods.
Slow travel is the way to go
As the effects of climate change and societal issues have become worryingly apparent with each passing year, it helps that people do their part in helping the world recover in even the simplest of ways. Once you’ve decided to try slow traveling, don’t forget to review these tips that will change the way you travel!
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