Traveling and holidays… isn`t this something that one should enjoy intensively!? Exactly! However, nowadays not many people travel like this anymore, because although we are on holiday it seems to be too difficult to slow down and to leave our stressful and busy life at home. That is why even while traveling we are way too busy to reach our destination unless it is quickly. And once we have reached it we try to see as much as possible, undertake as much as possible and do as many extraordinary things as possible. And it does not stop there.
Via social media we love to share our stories in order to increase our artificial social status and get acknowledgement from our countless Facebook friends. Why are we doing all that? Being back at home we face the following: After a week-long tour through five European capitals we look at a yellow folder with 784 pictures from 25 tourist attractions, at best, we will have a look at these ten years later. Wow! Shouldn’t one take more time for oneself while having time off and not being stressed out by touristic “must do‘s” and by the inner need to communicate? Afterwards, many of us seem to need a holiday after a vacation and feel almost as exhausted as before: Welcome to touristic burnout!
Fortunately, there is an ever increasing movement called ‘slow travel‘. I guess you can best translate it as ‘conscious, intense and slow traveling’. Now you will laugh: Wouldn’t you rather be somewhere in a small authentic place than in a mass tourist region, where you get a traditional homemade breakfast in a small family guesthouse served by the owner on your cute little balcony under a clear blue sky surrounded by an idyllic panoramic view? Wouldn’t you rather be in a small local market where you can buy regional fruit, meet locals with whom you can chat and after that take all the time you want to explore the town? Welcome to slow travel!
The origin of slow travel
Slow travel is a sub-form of the slow food movement which was formed in 1980 in Italy during the protests against the opening of a McDonald´s outlet in Rome in order to protect regional cuisine, traditional food and local agriculture. As a result the slow movement arose and is mainly about connecting; connecting to food and in the case of traveling it is about the connection with places, locals and their culture.
And what does slow travel mean exactly?
So, what exactly is meant by the term slow travel? To put it briefly, this kind of traveling is not so much a matter of doing some sightseeing, but more about getting to know a place and its culture in a hassle-free and conscious way. Above all, this is much more relaxing for yourself, more respectful for the environment and locals, and maybe even better for your budget.
Slow travel can be seen as a way of thinking. Instead of seeing and doing as much as possible, the slow traveller prefers to take time to explore places, people, food and culture calmly and experience real interesting stories far away from the numerous touristic attractions. If I, for example, go to Bulgaria – which I am currently planning to do – I prefer to spend my time in one or two places intensively, instead of visiting seven of the country´s most popular places at the same time.
If you don´t take an airplane and take the train instead or go on a road trip, you will almost automatically experience more. Even better, you can also go by bike, boat or on foot which of course would also be more environmentally friendly. However, when it comes to slow travel it is not mainly about the means of transport, it is rather more about your taking time for yourself and about connecting and becoming part of the daily local life and maybe even integrating your own everyday life in it.
The slow traveller often explores spots which are not necessarily found in a travel guide. For overnight stays, apartments or other kinds of accommodation will do. What is important is anything other than half-board so that you go grocery shopping yourself. I myself do slow travel quite often and am always richly rewarded with experiences and encounters which I would not have the chance of otherwise. A good example of slow travel is the 3000+ km bike tour through 10 countries which I am currently doing. On my blog I am also writing about responsible and sustainable traveling and I see many parallels to slow travel.
In case you are interested in this kind of travel or feel inspired now, you should definitely try slow travel on your next trip. Here are some photos about my last slow travel experience…