People in industrialized nations are stressed. They feel a high pressure to perform. The working environment demands constant availability, effectiveness and productivity. Consequences reach from personal overload to burnout. The competitive thinking of the working life is also transferred into private life. There is a subliminal struggle, who dresses best, has the smartest child or spend the best holiday. People desire places of retreat – away from bustle and stress. The social desire formulates itself in slow trends. This includes for example Slow Food, Slow Architecture, Slow Media, Slow Living and also Slow Travel.
Slow Travel emerged to slow down tourism. Like the other slow trends it was inspired by the Slow Food movement. It was founded 1986 by Carlo Petrini from Italy and others in Paris. Before the foundation, some negative incidents happened in the Italian food industry. 1985 the Italian wine industry was involved in a scandal. Some people died, because wine was thinned down with methanol. Moreover, a McDonald’s branch opened in the old city of Rome. Public discussions emerged about the tradition and conservation of the Italian cuisine. In a protest journalists built up a table on a city square in Rome and served traditional dishes. This spectacle is seen as legendary campaign against fast food in Italy. Petrini was not involved in the campaign, but it is often mentioned in the same context with the origin of Slow Food. Today the Slow Food movement has over 80.000 members worldwide. The group committed themselves to support pleasurable, mindful and regional food. Promoting the slogan “Good, clean and fair”, the goal is to preserve the traditional cuisine and use locally produced and regionally grown products.
The Founder of the Slow Travel trend is Pauline Kenny. From the year 2000 onward, the American used the term Slow Travel on her blog slowtrav.com, which does not exist anymore. Today she offers Slow Travel forums for Europe on sloweurope.com. Regarding the origin she writes:
“I took the term “slow” from the Slow Food movement. They look for good quality and meaningful dining experiences. We look for good quality and meaningful travel experiences. “Slow” does not mean the food is prepared slowly or the travel happens slowly, but instead infers an attitude toward living where you value quality experiences, savour the things that happen to you, take the time to really enjoy what life offers.”
It is about enjoying the moment. Kenny defines Slow Travel as travelling that allows a deeper insight into the holiday destination. From 2006 onward, the British press and bloggers used the term created by Kenny. New associations emerged. Rules of transportation were attached to Slow Travel. An interpretation said for example that Slow Travel means travelling by train. Also the interpretation appeared that airplanes were forbidden. This constructions lead to a multiplicity of interpretations and formed the Slow Travel trend how it is lived individually today.
From 2009, the authors of the British travel magazine Hidden Europe developed the Slow Travel term further. Travel writer and publisher Nicky Gardner wrote the Slow Travel Manifesto. It was published in the 26. issue of Hidden Europe. In the manifest she refers to travel writers of the 19. century. They already criticized back then the speed of modern transportation, the stagecoach. About 200 years later, travelers are on their way faster than ever by using trains and airplanes. Gardner criticizes that travel is not seen as movement anymore, but as necessary evil to get to the holiday destination. Travelers awaiting impatiently the arrival, while they are not noticing the actual travelling. Main goal is to arrive as fast as possible. Gardner wants a change of travel mentality:
“If we have slow food and slow cities, then why not slow travel? “
The tourism industry incorporated the Slow Travel term quickly. 2010 the British travel guide publisher Bradt Travel Guides dedicated Slow Travel a book series for destinations in Great Britain. 2012 the international travel guide publisher Lonely Planet formulated first ideas for Slow Travel. To enjoy travelling more they suggested e. g. to: hike, drive scooter or bike and to do a camel or boat tour. The main thing was: slowing down.
Regarding capacity utilization and environment the popular holiday destinations reached their maximum anyway. This includes Barcelona, Venice, Mallorca as well as South East Asia and the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal. Mass tourism has a bad reputation and the tourism industry is undergoing changes. Already 2011 the Zukunftsinstitut in Frankfurt on the Main, DE, described a rising trend to more individuality and slowing down while travelling. While it formerly was about getting away the furthest with the least money, they noticed a tendency to comfort and pleasure. The free time was experiencing a rising appreciation. People wanted to relax like they wished on their holidays and pursue their individual preferences. The number of short trips of Germans increased from the year 2002 to 2010 about 40 %. Furthermore, the interest in city trips increased. Travelers where looking for ways of transportation, which brought them to their destination in comfort and without stress.
Under “Feel Good Mobility” an increasing desire for climate neutral travel arouse. Travel operators and politicians of holiday destinations as well as the tourists themselves slowly realize that they are part of a global problem. This neo-ecological attitude is part of the Slow Travel idea. Short distances are not just more comfortable but also better for the environment. 2019 more than 55,2 Million Germans traveled more than five days in Germany – as many as ever before. Additionally, 25 % informants said that they were planning their vacation for the upcoming year in Germany. The Zukunftsinstitut predicted:
“For the pleasure travelers of tomorrow it is not anymore about that they can travel anywhere, it is about if it is worth to arrive there.”
From 2010 onward, first travel operators tailored their offers around Slow Travel. The travel agency Slowtravel Experience offers for example travel by sailboat or Trans-Siberian Railway. Paul Sullivan from Britain founded Slow Travel Berlin, an agency for slowly discovering the German capital. He offers guided city tours with locals in intentionally small groups – the maximum attendant capacity is six people.
Slow Travel publications mainly sprouted in the English-speaking countries. Relatively early published was the book “Slow Travel and Tourism“ (2010) in which Janet Dickinson discussed the potentials of Slow Travel for tourism. 2012 “The Idle Traveler” of Dan Kieran followed, a homage to the return to true travelling. Moreover, writers devoted themselves to Slow Travel as trend, like for example Penny Watson with “Slow Travel. A Movement (2019), a book in which she introduces travel destinations in the style of a travel magazine. Practical tips for implementation can be found in publications from Sarah Clemence with “Away and Aware. A Field Guide to Mindful Travel” (2018) and Jennifer M. Sparks with “Slow Travel. Escape the Grind and Explore the World” (2019).
Regarding the German book market Slow Travel is still at a very early stage. A few less English books were translated into German. This includes “Slow Travel. Die Kunst des Reisens“ (2014) of Kieran and “Achtsam Reisen. Kabellos glücklich oder Wie dein Urlaub zur echten Auszeit wird“ (2018) of Clemence. Besides solitary books, like „Slow Travel. Ein Fragebuch für Reisende“ of Manuela Molk (2019) there is not much German literature published yet.
 See Hollenstein, Oliver (2013): Schnelle, stressige Welt, In: https://www.sueddeutsche.de/leben/leben-unter-zeitdruck-schnelle-stressige-welt-1.1851807 (20.09.2020).
 See Slow Food Deutschland e.V. (2020): Wie Slow Food entstand, In: https://web.archive.org/web/20110413175245/http://www.slowfood.de/wirueberuns/wie_slow_food_entstand/ (20.09.2020).
 See Kenny, Pauline (2019): What is Slow Travel?, In: https://www.sloweurope.com/community/resources/what-is-slow-travel.140/ (26.09.2020).
 See Ibid.
 See Gardner, Nicky (2009): A Manifesto for Slow Travel, In: https://www.slowtraveleurope.eu/slow-travel-manifesto (20.09.2020).
 See Bradt Travel Guides (2020): Slow Travel, In: https://www.bradtguides.com/product-category/books/series/slow-travel/ (20.09.2020).
 See Lonely Planet (2012): World’s best slow travel, In: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/world-e2-80-99s-best-slow-travel (20.09.2020).
 See Zukunftsinstitut GmbH (2011): Leisure Travel. Tourismus der Zukunft, In: https://www.zukunftsinstitut.de/artikel/tourismus/leisure-travel-tourismus-der-zukunft/ (22.09.2020).
 See Graefe, Lena (2020): Statistiken zum Reiseverhalten der Deutschen, In: https://de.statista.com/themen/1342/reiseverhalten-der-deutschen/ (22.09.2020).
 Zukunftsinstitut GmbH (2011): Leisure Travel. Tourismus der Zukunft, In: https://www.zukunftsinstitut.de/artikel/tourismus/leisure-travel-tourismus-der-zukunft/ (22.09.2020).