In Slow Travel the daily stress overload is not transferred to travelling anymore. The slogan is “Less is More”. Instead of generating many impressions in a short time, mindful travel is aiming for clarity, peace and focusing. It allows freedom for breaks. A relaxed travel itinerary leaves space for spontaneity and pleasure. The luggage is simplified, too. Slow Travelers just pack essentials, the things, which are important to them. Some of them are even changing to smaller suitcases or backpacks to pack less. In Slow Travel it is not about belongings anyway. It is the search of travel happiness in the immaterial: in sustainable impressions, enjoyable relaxation and inner growth.
Slow Travel is possible in every scope: private or business related, with high or low budget, in cities or nature and as sabbaticals or short trips. The implementation of Slow Travel is divers and individual. It ranges from a time out in Alpine pastures over desert hikes up to meditation seminars. A bike tour can be undertaken as conscious as a pilgrimage. Slow Travel can be luxurious or ascetic. It can mean camping, house sitting, pet sitting, volunteering, work or language courses. Important is the inner attitude, not external conditions.
Slow Travel is a new type of adventure vacation, just without action and adrenaline. The adventure lies in becoming part of the happening. Slow Travelers interact with their surrounding instead of watching it passively. Slowing down is therefore connected with different activities. Slow Travelers are concentrating on single things. While doing this, they stand the odd, putative emptiness that occurs. It is a contrary act to the productivity and multitasking, which occupies the most people during daily life. The deeper experiences of Slow Travel are supposed to help inner growth. It has to have an effect after the trip. In the end, the goal is to increase the own quality of life. The Zukunftsinstitut in Frankfurt on the Main, formulated ten behaviors that go along with Slow Travel:
- Slow down
- Stretch your comfort zone
- Let go of the plan
- Spend less
- Take root
- Blend in
- Rely on strangers
- Practice gratitude
- Celebrate the ordinary
“Slow Travelers assume that they do not have to see everything on one trip, that there will be other trips.”
…says Pauline Kenny, the trendsetter of Slow Travel. According to her it is better to get to know one place deeper, than visiting small parts of many destinations. For Slow Travel she composed the following principles:
- Spend longer time in one place instead of spreading your vacation time over several places.
- Create your own list instead of following an external dictation of the Top 10 Must Sees.
- Slow Travel does not mean doing a longer trip. It can also be a one or two weeks trip.
- Slow Travel does not mean an expensive trip. Small hotels and vacation rentals are affordable options.
- Slow Travel is the freedom from having to see it all.
Nicky Gardner, author of the Slow Travel Manifesto, defines Slow Travel through slowing down instead of pace. Travelling is a time for relaxation. Relationships with the surrounding should sprout. Central is the exchange with humans. This happens through a number of behaviors. Instead of international branches like Starbucks local products and restaurants are preferred, e. g. the small coffee shop in the side street. Local buses are used for transportation. Instead of following Must See Lists Slow Travelers decide consciously against the mainstream. They are interested in places, which are also popular with locals. These are not always matching the touristic sights. Slow Traveler also want to give something back to their surrounding. They strive for Low Impact Tourism. Besides the own carbon footprint, ecological sustainability is being considered.
Slow Travelers choose slow transportation types, which offer additional value. The transport from A to B is seen as part of travel. It is about the way and not about when exactly they arrive. Gardner for example recommends taking the bus or train instead of a flight for travelling from Portugal to Great Britain. But also trains are often driving with such high speed that the surrounding cannot be cherished enough. Gardner prefers for the trip from Frankfurt on the Main to Cologne for example a slow train instead of the one-hour fast train.
Slow Travelers visit places more consciously. Gardner talks about “Slow Places” – meant is the reduction of the pace with which tourists usually travel. A city square was not built for tourists, but emerged through the requirements of people. Places deserve more than a short glimpse while passing by. Slow Travelers study their surrounding into detail. It is about the perception of the true essence of a region or country. Accordingly, Slow Travelers ask themselves before a trip how they explore a place the best way. Travel time is seen as valuable. This does not mean it is saved, tho’. Time is given to everything and everyone.
For the implementation of Slow Travel there exist different approaches. All include the aspiration for changing the inner attitude. Travel is understood as the travelling in the sense of movement itself. Therefore experienced behavior patterns are being dissolved. The suggestions of travel writer Dan Kieran from Britain include for example to rely on your instinct and to be your own travel guide. Unexpected is seen as chance for adventure and spontaneity. Catastrophes are being welcomed. Who always lives according to plan misses potentially a rare opportunity. In his book “The Idle Traveler” Kieran describes how he left his travel without map, guide book or accommodation bookings to chance. He used trains, a raft, a milk cart and his own feed as transportation. He says that he, of course, does some basic planing ahead. But during travel it is not about seeing what you already know exists. Things, which stay within memories the best are the ones you could never predict. Furthermore, Kieran advocates travelling alone. In this way one talks less and the travel becomes a form of meditation.
Slow Travelers choose their holiday destinations aside from mass tourism. They visit less frequented areas. If they are travelling to a popular place, they plan their visit at a time away from the main tourist season. At the destination they do not book a room in a big hotel chain, but chose a local accommodation. Today private accommodations are offered through multiple digital platforms. One who does not travel to Over Tourism areas is also not participating in raising the rental costs through the booking. Accommodation possibilities are e. g.:
- Guest rooms of locals.
- Home Stays. Mainly families offer rooms or apartments in their own house.
- Farm Stays. Food from local products is frequently included in the price.
- Guest rooms in monasteries. These are often in historic buildings. The facilities reach from luxurious to sparse.
Slow Travelers train their perception to capture the surrounding’s essence. Therefore exist multiple tools. For example one can write travel diary, take conscious breaks or try to capture a moment like a mental image. Some slow traveler bring a sketch book along to capture impressions by drawing.
Another big topic of Slow Travel is Digital Detoxing. Sara Clemence offers in her book “Away and Aware. A Field Guide to Mindful Travel” (2018) ideas for detoxing. She recommends to decide already before the travel how far the technology time out goes. The implementation varies between a soft detox (short time out periods) to total abstinence (the smartphone stays at the accommodation or at home).
Furthermore, travel traditions are re-animated to take the Slow Travelers back into the analog world. These include for example strolling, the slow amble, writing post cards and the use of analog maps. Maps run not into being useless caused by low battery. Additionally, they slow things down.
Not just the travel is slowed down. During the arrival at home stress is avoided. The trip should continue to have an effect at home and should not create the desire for a “holiday after the holiday”. Slow Travelers plan one or two days of their travel to arrive peacefully at home. The trip is supposed to be sustainable. Instead of experience holiday separated from daily life the worlds profit from one another. The traveler might brought back recipes from local dishes, found a new hobby or developed an interest into the country’s language. Furthermore, acquaintances and cultural exchange is emphasized. New contacts are ideally kept alive and formed into friendships.
 See Heimann, Andreas (2013): Warum pilgern nicht peinlich ist, In: https://www.spiegel.de/reise/aktuell/slow-tourism-warum-pilgern-nicht-peinlich-ist-a-935136.html (25.09.2020).
 See Kirig, Anja (2020): Slow Travel, In: https://www.zukunftsinstitut.de/artikel/slow-business/slow-travel/ (23.09.2020).
 See Schlichter, Sarah (2007): The art of Slow Travel. Avoid post-vacation burnout and take time to enjoy your journeys, In: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/20429755/ns/travel-travel_tips/t/art-slow-travel/ (26.09.2020).
 Kenny, Pauline (2019): What is Slow Travel?, In: https://www.sloweurope.com/community/resources/what-is-slow-travel.140/ (26.09.2020).
 See Gardner, Nicky (2009): A Manifesto for Slow Travel, In: https://www.slowtraveleurope.eu/slow-travel-manifesto (20.09.2020).
 See Ibid.
 See Molk, Manuela (2019): Slow Travel. Ein Fragebuch für Reisende, Norderstedt.
 See Clemence, Sara (2018): Achtsam Reisen. Kabellos glücklich oder Wie ein Urlaub zur echten Auszeit wird, Cologne, p. 14 – 15.
 See Ibid. S. 10 – 11.
 See Clemence, Sara (2018): Achtsam Reisen. Kabellos glücklich oder Wie ein Urlaub zur echten Auszeit wird, Cologne, p. 42 – 66.
 See Ibid. S. 122 – 123.