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What is Slow Travel, Anyway?

In such a fast-paced world, more travellers are making a conscious decision to travel slowly in 2020. Learn what it means to be a ‘slow traveller’ and become a part of this trending sustainable travel movement.

Latest Canadian Travel Trend: Slow Travel

Too familiar with the phrase, “I need a vacation from my vacation.”? You’re not alone. With social media pressure, to-do lists and bucket lists, there is a tendency to quickly check off must-sees and attractions once you arrive at a destination. At the end of the day we just end up feeling exhausted, burnt out, and unmotivated to experience more. Why not slow things down a little next time? According to our data, 33.1 % of Canadian travellers took more ‘slow travel’ trips in 2019. It’s no wonder more people are reaping the benefits of this travel trend.

What does slow travel look like?

Slow Travel is redefining what it means to travel in 2020: it’s the antithesis to most people’s typical vacation style. It’s about trying to be more familiar with one destination and take in your new surroundings at a relaxed pace, rather than constantly moving from city to city, or from one experience to another.

This more ‘slow’ travel can mean incorporating more of the local economy into your trip (think small, locally-run tours rather than international travel agencies), having deeper first-hand interactions, and taking alternative methods of transport in a new destination. As such, it lends to being more reflective, grateful, and having richer, transformative travel experiences.

two female travellers exploring a temple
Slow Travel | Skyscanner Canada

How long do you travel for exactly?

The time frame of the travelling doesn’t necessarily matter, but rather the quality time spent in the thick of it. Slow travel aims to encourage a more conscious mindset. This could mean a weekend trip adventure, a two-week sunny vacation, or a year-long backpacking adventure. Regardless of the time frame on your trip, the emphasis is to connect deeper with people, culture, food, and learning something new along the way.

What are the benefits of slow travel?

Slow travel helps you avoid travel burn-out

Know that familiar feeling of arriving back to your accommodation after a full day of sightseeing and plummeting onto your bed? This can easily be avoided by travelling slower. With a smaller itinerary, you won’t be rushing around to see and do everything and you’re more likely to end your day feeling inspired and enriched.

It’s easier on the environment

Slow travel is generally more eco-friendly and sustainable. While you might have to fly in and out of your destination, you’ll be making less of an impact if you walk, bike, or take a train throughout your trip. Plus, staying in one place will probably reduce the chances that you have to take much transportation anyways!

Slow travel can be better for your budget

Sticking to only one or two destinations on a trip can often reduce accommodation, food and transportation costs. That means more can be spent on experiences. Why not ‘splurget’ on that bungee-jumping experience you’ve been dreaming of, or spend a night in a luxurious hot spring!

the view of a passenger at a window seat on a train
Slow Travel | Skyscanner Canada

Sustainable Slow Travel Tips

So, what are some good practices to cultivate the slow travel mindset? We’ve got some ideas on ways to meaningfully engage with this travel trend.

Tip #1: Opt for slower methods of transportation

Take as many localized forms of transportation as possible. If the destination is pedestrian-friendly, explore your surroundings on foot. Or, rent a bicycle and go for an aimless adventure. Plan to take local buses and trains if you’re moving to further distances. Train travel, particularly in places like Canada and Europe, is a glorious and relaxing way to be on the move while enjoying the beautiful scenes of nature by the window seat.

Tip #2: Pick one destination to explore

Instead of trying to squeeze as many European cities in a short amount of time – pick one (or two!) and stay there. Take your time to explore historical landmarks and wander through different neighbourhoods. Pick one major thing to do a day, then cultivate a routine with your new favourite spots like markets and coffee shops in the area. And don’t overthink or over-plan! It’s important for a slow traveller to go with the flow. Try and be open to doing something different based on your mood of the day.

Tip #3: Book alternative and longer accommodation stays

Slow travel will inevitably bring more interactions with those around you. If you’re not as rushed, you will be more likely to connect with other travellers or locals. Opt to stay in accommodations like homestays, B&Bs or even Couchsurfing. Any of these options will provide more opportunities to make closer bonds, therefore encouraging you to stay longer. Plus, locals may have great recommendations for sights not mentioned in your guidebook! You can find a variety of options with Skyscanner’s search engine.

girl browsing some shops
Slow Travel | Skyscanner Canada

Tip #4: Shop and eat locally

Look out for locally-owned restaurants, cafés, and shops in your new destination. Try to feed into the local economy by supporting local artisans and business owners. When travelling at a slower pace, you have a chance at being a returning customer. Take advantage of this and strike up more conversations with local owners and you’ll make bonds to cherish for life.

Tip #5: Stay curious and be flexible

Ask questions and set an intention to learn as much as you can about where you are travelling. Learning more about the history, customs, and some basic phrases in the local language will motivate you to move slower naturally. Most importantly, be flexible and adaptable to delays, cancellations, and interruptions. When you have a less demanding schedule, it’ll be easier to approach these with ease, leaving you more relaxed. Now, that’s more like a vacation!

Top Slow Travel Destination Escapes

Belgrade, Serbia

Located at the centre of the Balkan countries, Belgrade is the perfect city for a slow travel trip. If you have more time, you can even visit neighbouring countries like Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Hungary by train. Unique churches and excellent local food establishments are plentiful here in Belgrade, so let yourself be enchanted by it all and discover what makes this city so special.

Fjaerland, Norway

If you’re looking for a great slow travel escape, what’s better than a small village surrounded by nature? Fjaerland is close to the largest icecap in mainland Europe, Jostedalsbreen. And fun fact: there are 14 second-hand bookshops in this cute little town! With a modest population of 300, you’re sure to make some great connections and settle in quickly. Norway is a top destination for solo travellers if you’re planning to head out on your own.

Camino de Santiago, Spain

Nothing says slow travel like a hike of 780 km! The Camino de Santiago is a network of ancient pilgrim routes that come together at the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela, located in the northwest of Spain. El Camino has become a popular right of passage for many over the years, regardless of spirituality. You can walk for 10, 20 or 30 days depending on the route you take, making for one of the slowest itineraries you’ll ever have.

Ready for your next slow travel adventure? Find cheap flights on the daily below. 👇🏼