The concept of slow travel is one of the fastest growing trends in the tourism industry. It’s supposed to be good for the planet, good for people, and good for the communities you visit, but what exactly is slow travel, and what are the benefits of travelling slowly?
Most of us are aware of the idea of slow fashion. Rather than buying a new wardrobe of cheap clothes every few weeks, you buy good quality clothing on a much less regular basis. There are a few parallels we can draw between slow travel and slow fashion.
To sum it up incredibly briefly:
“Slow travel is tourism that takes time to get to know local, authentic cultures and people, by immersing yourself in the region you are visiting over a more extended period of time and avoiding mass tourism traps.”
Essentially, heading out on a bus tour straight from your all-inclusive hotel to the biggest tourist attraction in the area, before heading straight back again, would constitute the complete opposite of slow travel.
Slow travel involves taking your time in a location and actively seeking out the authentic, local experiences that help you really get to know the culture and the people you are with, and it comes with a wide range of benefits.
The Rise of Slow Travel
Slow travel was just one of the proponents that grew out of the slow food movement, established by Italian Carlo Petrini in 1986, who started the organization in opposition to the rise of fast food, in particular the introduction of McDonalds in Rome.
The idea of slow food was to promote local produce and traditional cooking methods, to preserve regional cuisines and support small-scale food producers in a world of advancing globalisation.
This kind of anti-consumerism movement grew into an entire philosophy known as the slow movement, the slowing down of life against the ever increasing pace of consumerism and growth in almost all aspects of our lives.
As Carl Honoré puts in his book, In Praise of Slow:
“It is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.”
It’s this idea of quality over quantity that applies so well to slow tourism. It’s not about literally walking from place to place, but it’s about getting the very best out of the time you spend in a travel destination.
It wasn’t until the 1990s that slow travel began to take hold as a concept, and it was only in 2007 that the World Travel Market identified slow travel as a growing tourism trend in Western Europe.
Now, the phenomenon of slow travel has taken hold in Western Europe, the USA and Latin America, and is growing rapidly around the globe, thanks to the multitude of benefits it provides to travellers, locals, and the planet alike.
Examples of Slow Travel
Slow travel can be used to describe many different types of holiday. However, they all share similar characteristics, which allows us to put them in the same overall category.
We’ve already mentioned that getting to know local cuisine is a big part of travelling slow, and you couldn’t immerse yourself much more in traditional French food than on a cooking and gastronomy holiday in this rural part of southern France.
By staying in a beautiful farmhouse with people who live their full time, and learning how to cook regional specialties with local produce, you are very much travelling slow.
We have mentioned that slow travel is all about the literal speed that you go from place to place, but it is often said that the journey is just as important as the destination, and that couldn’t be truer than this slow travel itinerary around the magical island of Cuba on two wheels.
By taking your time, by passing more slowly through towns and villages many tourists would miss completely on the way to the next big attraction, you get to know a country far better. Not only that, but you’ll end up spending your money in smaller, independent places, ensuring that your travel money makes it to the local people.
Mauritius is a destination that many might write off as home to all-inclusive beach resorts and golf courses, but part of the magic of slow travel is that it helps you break down this shallow exterior and discover the rich and varied culture that lies just beneath the surface.
With the help of the local people we put you in touch with, this itinerary gets you under the skin of a little-discovered culture, which makes discovering the food and culture of the island, joining local guides on thrilling canyoning expeditions and exploring the island’s lychee wine producing scene all the more rewarding.