SLOW TRAVEL or SLOW TOURISM,
What is it exactly ?
Slow tourism or slow travel is an integral part of slow living, which advocates a slower lifestyle, more respectful of one’s emotional, personal, vital needs and the environment around us.
In the age of life at 1000 per hour, advanced technologies and the glorification of speed, many of us feel the need to slow down. The lockdowns forced us to do so for a few weeks. Many of us have become aware of the hectic pace of life in which we live.
When we take the time to savour every moment, and to live, we also become aware of our real needs, desires. We find the essential and we become more aware of the environment around us.
“Take the time to take your time”.
Definition of slow tourism or slow travel :
It is a mode of travel, of tourism, which favours the quality of the experience over quantity. It is a conscious journey with the environment, culture and local people. It is the idea of an educational journey, emotionally enriching over the long term and sustainable for local communities.
Slow tourism means taking the time to immerse yourself in each destination, to discover the people who live there and their culture, their lifestyles.
It invites you to travel in a more eco-responsible way. When we get closer to nature, we become aware of its importance, and we are more aware of the impact we can have on our environment. We become aware of our actions and the consequences they can have on the planet and the individuals who live there.
The main principles of slow travel :
1. Experience more authentic tourism.
Flee mass tourism to enjoy more authentic, wilder places. It means getting back to basics and simple things.
What I like the most is to climb the mountain to bivouac enjoying the last rays of the sun and the view of the surrounding mountains.
You feel so small in front of this immensity. It puts us right back in our place and reminds us how much our problems are finally not much.
2. Take the time to discover a destination.
“Only those who wander find new paths.”
It is by losing ourselves that we discover new places, new people. And who knows the adventure that awaits us around the corner.
It is for example taking her bike with the aunt on her back to discover a region.
It’s taking one road rather than another because we have this feeling that carries us. I find it so exciting not knowing where I’m going or why. Just be in the moment, live the moment and discover, marvel!
“You never go as far as when you don’t know where you’re going”
3. Protecting and enhancing local heritage and communities
Slow travel is also about respecting local values and the environment.
I often (even every time) pick up garbage on the spots I go to. When we realize our impact, we pay much more attention.
Out of respect for the locals and local wildlife. It’s not just a destination but also a habitat for some. You don’t leave your garbage when you’re invited to a friend’s house…. It’s the same, we are guests in a sublime nature that it goes either to leave intact.
It is to stop by local merchants and artisans to discover their trades, what they do every day.
And consume local products. We often make great discoveries and this is part of the gastronomic culture that is dear to us in France.
I love to stroll in the local markets, it is so much more pleasant and qualitative than to go to the supermarket. We often find exceptional products.
As for example in Chapieux (a small Savoyard hamlet) where I found, in the grocery store of the village farm, a delicious jam of wild blueberries (local) without sugar, and sheep cheese to fall on the ground. Especially since we see the sheep frolicking on the mountains at the beginning of the hamlet.
In Rando we often cross Alpine pastures, farms, I stop there every time to buy good local products and participate in the economy and make the local crafts and heritage work.
Travelling more slowly, taking the time to discover the local populations, opens the door to other types of travel. More alternative such as volunteering, volunteering or exchange of services. It’s enriching and that’s how you really discover local cultures.
“To travel without meeting the other is not to travel is to travel”
Alexandre David Neel
4. Promoting soft mobility
Slow tourism is about taking time, and to take time, the best is to favour modes of travel with a moderate or neutral impact on the planet.
This is the case of walking and trekking in the mountains.
In the moors, I met a couple who were going on a walking tour of France. He slept with a large tarp as a cabin and everything needed for a minimum of comfort (generator, down, blankets, and some kitchen utensils, mobile phone). They had with them, a mare (for the transport of their belongings and equipment), a goat to keep the mare company, a hen to have fresh eggs (Tao would have made his 4 hours of the hen), and 2 dogs.
That’s how I met them, one of their dogs got on very well with Tao and followed us all the time to the house when we went for a walk.
The first time (I didn’t know them yet) I had to call them because I didn’t know whose dog was following us. Charbon (that was the dog’s name) had a locket with their number. An hour later I saw them landing in my street with the goat, the mare, and a dog (the hen had stayed at the camp). It’s not common and it caught my attention a lot (and that of my neighbors who didn’t really understand what was going on). I found their travel style so original and amazing. They invited me to their camp, I brought them homemade cookies! We had a lot of sympathy. I think these people are exceptional. Moreover, we kept in touch and it is very likely that I will give them a short interview at the end of their journey. I hope that will inspire you.
The train is, also, a mode of transport that allows to go from one point to another quickly but with a low carbon impact.
It allows you to travel further with less impact on the environment.
To go far, the boat can be a good alternative too. Take the example of Julia who went around the world without a plane and who made her cross the Atlantic by boat hitchhiking.
The van can also be a good alternative but under certain conditions. Because the van remains a means of transport with a diesel or petrol engine for the most part. And we are not going to lie to each other, this must have a considerable impact in terms of our carbon footprint. On the other hand, it makes it possible to travel in a much more eco-responsible way on all other levels (waste, electricity, water, accommodation, etc.).
Very soon, I will be doing a very specific article on this point in order to give you the keys to combine Slow tourism and vanlife because I think that many of you are wondering if travelling in a van is really green.
5. Savour the moment and the unexpected
“Travelling is about discovering the unknown, and the first unknown to discover is you.”
Slow travel is also about not having a plan, feeling and enjoying the adventures and opportunities that are offered to us.
This is what makes the trip exciting, this is the Adventure with a big A! And as Mr.Follmi says so well, “getting closer to the essential allows you to know yourself better”.
6. Favour eco-responsible accommodation.
Couchsurfing is a great way to meet local communities. You sleep at home, which allows you to really exchange and understand their lifestyles.
You can also stay in an eco lodge, often located in the middle of nature, these eco-responsible accommodations often offer you unusual nights. From the tree house or waterfront to the old farms or cooperatives, you will be surprised by the originality and authenticity of these places.
Their values generally promote local terroir and locavorism. You will often find food with local products cooked by chefs sensitive to the origin of products and soil regeneration.
Bivouac, if done with respect, remains the accommodation with the least impact. Take your stove, your food, and enjoy the view, the silence, the nature! The foot.
The Van also allows you to sleep close to nature. Just like the bivouac, if it is done in a responsible and respectful way, sleeping in your van will have a lesser impact on the local environment. It will of course, leave no trace behind you, not even a small piece of PQ 😉
As I said earlier, an article will be published very soon to show you how it is possible to travel green in a van.
7. Travel longer at a lower cost.
The great advantage of slow tourism is that it allows you to travel longer at a lower cost.
When I travel by van, I have no accommodation to pay and I rarely eat in restaurants. I prefer to shop a thousand times on farms or with local craftsmen and taste these delights in nature. The van allows to land on incredible spots with breathtaking views.
The cost of accommodation and catering is therefore lower compared to traditional holidays where the hotel and restaurant budget is often the most important.
The same applies to activities. In slow tourism we will prefer outdoor activities that are mostly free (mountain biking, hiking, trekking, yoga, swimming, ski touring, snowshoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing…).
You will have understood, to fully enjoy slow tourism it is essential to be flexible on your schedule and your destination!
The Adventure, the real one!