THE WANDERERS GAZETTE • SLOW TRAVELING
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
Slow travel is not about money or privilege. Slow travel is a state of mind. It is about having the courage not to go the way of the crowd.
For now, we stay at home. But we will travel (soon ?) again. And when we do, hopefully, we will do it more mindfully, more sustainably and with a greater feeling of solidarity than before.
It's time for us, travelers, tourists and workers of the tourism industry, to make a difference. Let's travel for education, let's travel for sustainable development, let's be inspired and inspire others.
That's why today, we want to introduce you a concept that we particularly like : Slow traveling. This concept is gently gaining some popularity, as more and more travelers are seeking sustainable ways to experience their travels.
The international crisis we are living towards the C-19 is teaching us valuable lessons and one of them is that we must start to change our ways to live, to travel and to be in general.
It's time to behave more consciously and respect the planet.
Related article : A world in quarantine.
Slow traveling : What is it ?
The concept of slow travel emerged in the early 2000s, in reaction to the "tick-of-the-box" phenomenon. It's when traveling became like a "competition" and a rise in profits for tourism industries. It was an idea conveyed by the multiplication of resorts and touristic tours, selling a tempting combo "Seeing more & faster ".
The increase of these travel packages led to a massive expansion and development of various tourism industries. And as collateral damages, with it came the destruction of natural habitats, the abuse of natural resources or also an increase of waste and pollution.
That's to fight these tragic consequences that slow traveling was born.
It's mainly all about stripping back travel to its basics. Let's not forget that the main purpose of holidays should be to fully relax and unwind. But it's also about exploring a new place or culture in-depth, rather than just skimming the surface in a hurry, don’t you think ?
Why doing it ?
Regarding our planet
Nowadays, let's be honest, being called a tourist became a bit of a pejorative name.
Nowadays, the increasing pace and affordability of travel result that millions of people are traveling every year, and unfortunately, many of them don't really care about ethical travels or sustainable practices while on holidays.
Due to the success of industries creating massive tourism, that are dominants in the tourism market, we are facing more and more ecologic issues and are putting in danger our planet.
Furthermore, not only over-tourism is a treat for our environmental assets, but also for our cultural ones. The economic, cultural and environmental impacts of over-tourism, have had primarily negative impacts on local communities as well.
Indeed, resorts and organized operator tour's activities aren't "just" increasing the destruction of many beautiful places, but are also participating in the impoverishment of local communities, by reducing their potential touristic activity. Activities that are frequently way more ethicals and truly emerging into their culture.
Therefore, as a result of all these negatives impacts for our planet and local economies, local communities around the world are seeing slow travel as a resurgence and a potential solution to the overhyped and overpopulated tourist activity.
Relation Article : Community Tourism.
Regarding your own traveling experience
First, slow traveling opens you up.
It can be to new experiences, to a deeper understanding of those experiences, to yourself or also to others. You are learning something new about our world and about the place you are traveling to. It opens you to raw, unique and authentic moments.
Choose those "one life-time experiences" rather than capitalized and fake ones, you will be rewarded for making this choice.
Second, it brings more meaning.
First to your travels, but also to your life in general. That's those moments where you seem lost, out of your comfort zone but yet having a deep conversation with someone you know since half an hour. This is what brings more sustenance and life-long lessons to your travels. Connecting with a place and its people will ultimately be more rewarding and will make you feel richer, inside. We guess you already heard the saying : "Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer", this is how this quote gets all its sense.
Third, it's rejuvenating.
Most people are saying that traveling can be exhausting, which is sometimes true, but there is also this feeling of rejuvenation if you do it "properly".
By properly I mean that traveling shouldn't be done in a hurry, always wanting to see more and faster. It shouldn't be a source of stress, it's not a raise nor a job with requirements to fulfil. Take it easy and take the time to truly enjoy where you are, what you are doing and who you are meeting. That's where the rejuvenation is.
Fourth, it has a lower environmental impact.
Indeed, people that tend to slow travel are mostly more mindful and caring about the environment. Because once you open your eyes to the state of the world, it's hard to deny than tourism doesn't have negative impacts on people, wildlife or nature.
Slow travel brings awareness, you start to pay attention and become more ethical while on the road.
That's how you become a proper traveler and not a tourist.
As I previously said, tourists are often negatively perceived. This is because of the vivid, and yet often true, cliché behind this word.
A tourist became a word reference for someone that comes with a "me mentally" to a place or bragging "I'm the customer, I have all the rights, I paid for it". Someone that also behaves with no care towards the environment and that is simply unaware of how bad his actions can impact the planet. It's also someone that rarely try to connect with the locals, expecting everyone to be speaking his language, because it's a touristic place, so everyone should adapt to his needs.
As travelers, and also workers in tourism, we can testify that there is nothing more annoying and irritating than this kind of tourist, disrespecting everyone and everything because he does only care about himself.
We are not saying that you should avoid any touristic place or activity, we all have those elements in our bucket lists that we would love to tick off. Just take a moment to visit those places more mindfully by choosing more sustainable solutions, both for the environment and the locals.
Related article : New Year Travel's Resolutions.
How to become a slow traveler ?
There are a few easy but yet fundamentals elements that you need to adopt in order to become a slow traveler and also, to make your life easier while traveling.
Most of us always, like the old me, pack more than we will actually need. That's why you need to "plan" carefully your outfits.
Go to basics. You can choose items that work well with kind of everything, to make multiple outfits to wear with one piece. This will cut out on duplicates and unnecessary items.
Second, get rid of that massive oversized suitcase and swap for a compact backpack. Besides, when doable, try to travel only with your hand luggage. It's so much more practical and less to worry about. You are free of your movement with a single backpack on your shoulders, rather than struggling with a suitcase.
But the ultimate advantage of that it's the gain of time. You don’t have to queue to check your luggage in and wait for it ages after you landed.
You get to head straight out that airport and start your holiday. This means more time for experiencing your destination and creating memories, which is the essence of slow travel.
To sum up, traveling light is life-changing ! So please, do yourself this favor.
Focus on one smaller area
It can be easily tempting in your excitement of visiting a new place, the wish to discover everything. I can’t lie, that used to be me. On my first trip to Australia, I wanted to see every single national park, beach or animal reserve, just in case, I would never get back there again. But there are so many unbelievably beautiful things to discover that, doesn't matter how much time you have, you have to decide and cross off some of them, which can be very frustrating.
That's why now, I highly advise you to stick to a smaller area, in order to see the most of it, properly and without rushing from one place to another.
The best part is the satisfaction that you have, as you are really immersed in a place. You can actually learn so much more about it. Take the time to get lost and wander the back alleys, haunting hidden local gems, finding the restaurants serving the best local food or stores that sell locally made and handcrafted items.
These are the things that will leave you with fond memories, not rushing around from one place to another to make sure you’ve ticked something else off your list. Plus, if you are a couple or a family, slow traveling allows you to bond and have more quality time together.
Rather than seeing more and faster, do less but better
This fits into the same idea that our previous point. The fewer sites or places you choose to explore, the longer you can spend in each one of them. You will leave each place feeling like you've experienced everything it had to offer, like if you were more a part of it. It feels great to behave (almost) like a local.
When you have an itinerary as long as your arm, you will only get to skim the surface of each place you want to visit and end up doing the exact same thing that thousands of other tourists. Not only this isn't satisfying, but it will be a waste of a lot more time, getting to each place to another. A precious time which you could have used exploring a handful of places more deeply.
Forget strict and organised itineraries, leave some space to spontaneity
We learnt this the hard way, whether it was with the weather or a miss evaluation of our timing, over planning isn't a good option.
Obviously, if you are going to a new country, with a different culture and language, it's better to get prepared, make some researches and define the highlights of your trip. But you don't need to plan every single hour of it.
Firstly, there is nothing more frustrating than not sticking to your plan. Many elements can affect a trip, and if one of them is actually forcing you to cancel on one of the things you tightly plan, then a whole day of activities can collapse.
Not only it's frustrating, but it also creates extra stress for you, because now you want to fill up this empty space in your schedule. So breathe, take it easy and give yourself some freedom. There is no rush remember ?
Besides, most of the best things happening on a trip are the unexpected ones that you improvise on the moment. Whether it's because of the people you meet or the weather, your plans will always change. Leave aside your exceptions and be in the reality and authenticity of the moment. Allow yourself to adapt to the unforeseen, good or bad. Life doesn't often allow you to be that free and spontaneous, seize this chance to embrace this state of mind.
This is our absolute favorite, that's not a coincidence that we call this blog : Forever Wanderers. Because the best part of a trip, for us, is actually when you get lost and out of the beaten track.
Did you spot a pretty looking side street ? Then, walk down it and ditch your map.
Feel free to explore whatever you feel tempted to, just go for it. You will always have your phone with you, so wherever you end up, you won't actually be lost.
What you will discover though, could be one of the highlights of your trip. If you stay central or around the tourist spots, you don’t ever discover the local side of a place.
Besides, when it comes to food, which is a very big part of travel and experiencing the culture, the best restaurants are the places where the locals eat and are most of the time hidden. Go for it, you won't regret it.
Travel by foot or by bike
When possible of course, avoid cars, trains or buses. Try as much as possible to travel slow, in the true sense of the term.
Obviously for ecologic purpose, but also for your own discovery. The amount of things you can stumble across unexpectedly is unbelievable. You will find so much that you would have never found otherwise. Things not mentioned in guide books or on blogs. There are so many details and treasures to every single city, town or place.
If you are travelling to the countryside, then a bike is always an excellent idea. You can stop for a picnic in a pretty spot you come across, enjoy the scenic roads, which is much more complicated if you are driving.
We can assure you that you will really find the slower travelling methods amazing.
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In conclusion, travelling slowly is an occasion to immerse yourself fully into a new experience. You will find that you absorb a lot more of what is going on around you : the architecture, the different sounds or the taste of local cuisine. These are all things that you start to notice when you take the time to do so.
So, what do you say ? Will you try to be more of a slow traveler for your next trip ?
Like usual, we don't advise you to change all your habits overnight. But you can start gently, one habit at a time. Baby steps, remember ?
Go at your own rhythm and feel free to adapt it to whatever suits you the best.
We hope you like this Gazette, wishing you to travel soon and to live incredible new adventures.
Take care & see you soon.