Sustainable travel

Slow travel – what is it and what are the benefits?

As borders begin to reopen, now is a great time to consider changing your perspective on travel. Although hopping on plane after plane and snapping Instagram photos is a lot of fun, it’s definitely not the most sustainable practice. Every flight you take releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, expanding your own carbon footprint and contributing to global warming. Luckily, there’s a way we can enjoy travelling while actively being more environmentally conscious. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of ‘Slow Travel’.

What exactly is slow travel?

Slow travel is the active practice of spending extended periods of time in just one holiday destination. If you’re moving around less, you’ll be using less transport, and therefore will avoid the carbon footprint produced by flights.

Slow travel begins with a change in mindset. Instead of zooming through destinations and visiting all the most popular sights, think about actually getting to know somewhere. Don’t fall into the same tourist traps that everyone else does, but actually spend time in an environment and become familiar with it. Find new eateries, get to know locals, and really immerse yourself in the culture. If your travel plans look like a long list of countries that you want to ‘tick off’, try taking a step back and slowing down. Travel shouldn’t be about ‘completing’ a destination, but actually enjoying the time you spend somewhere while immersing yourself in something new. Try forging a connection with a place, rather than just passing through.

outdoor seating area with tables and chairs

What are the benefits of slow travel?

First of all, slow travel is better for the environment. Every flight you take emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. By staying in a location longer, you’ll cut down on the amount of travelling you actually do, opting to get to know the culture instead of just flying through the tourist sights. A win for the environment is a win for us! We’ve written a whole article on practical ways to embark on an eco-friendly travel experience and reduce your carbon emissions while travelling. Take a read of the list and try to incorporate these small changes into your travel plans!

Cultural immersion

Every country has its own cuisine, music scene, and local customs. By spending more time in each place you visit, you’ll naturally meet more locals, find new places to eat, and experience new sights. By taking the time to really get to know the city you’re in, you will unlock a plethora of new experiences.

On one of your first days in a city, consider taking a free walking tour. These can be found in almost any city and only cost however much you’re willing to tip. Consider these tours a point of departure. You’ll be taken around the city, with bits of culture and history being explained to you. While on the tour, take a moment to make note of any places you want to come back to. Alongside this, jot down any streets or paths that interest you. In your free time, you can come back and explore them further. There is so much to experience if you just start looking!

Every time you leave your hostel, try finding a new place to eat. Look down side streets, on hidden corners, down alleys, wherever you can that’s off the beaten path. There will definitely be hidden local gems that you can find. Get to know the neighbourhood you’re in, chat to the locals, and really experience the city you’re in! Traveller has composed a list of locations perfect for slow travelling, so take a look there if you need ideas!

girl slow travelling in countryside with hemp Bagmaya backpack

Language learning

If you’re going to be in a country for an extended period of time, there is no better opportunity to learn the local language. Try looking up some local language schools. You’d be surprised how far a one or two-week intensive course can get you. Even if you don’t consider yourself a linguist, language learning becomes much easier when you’re completely immersed in the language. Hearing a language spoken around you every day will do wonders to your own abilities. Try starting small, ordering a coffee in the host language. Build up over time and you’ll be on your way to adding a whole new language to your life!

If you’re in a location for long enough, learning the language is one of the first steps you can take to make some local friends. Instead of flying through a location, you’d be making connections that will last a lifetime.

Have you ever experienced slow travel before? Where would be a destination you would love to immerse yourself in? Let us know in the comments down below!

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