Slow travel is the very opposite of modern life, which can be fast at times and often involves juggling multiple responsibilities, whether you’re at home or at your desk. While the phrase ‘slow travel’ might sound excruciating, now may be the perfect time to embrace it, both for the environment and for your sanity.
Travelling is life affirming in so many ways, but it can be overwhelming and tiring if you are going long distances or trying to fit a lot in.
Airports are more hectic than ever before, as counter-terrorism controls, disease prevention, higher prices, and more people, make air travel increasingly miserable. I’ve seen tour groups in Europe who visit three countries in a day, and they never get a chance to take everything in. This means that they miss out on so much - people, food, landscapes and everything in between.
This is where the ethical and environmental concept of slow travel can come in, for a family break that can help you slow down and recharge better than ever before.
What is slow travel?
Slow travel can mean many things, it can mean literally travelling slowly on public transport or it can mean spending a lot of time in one place and not moving. Or it could mean both. The beauty of it is that it’s up to you how you can make slow travel work for you and your family.
It originated from the slow food movement which is all about sourcing local produce and cooking it using traditional methods. You can apply the same principles by travelling to places within your region and staying in locally-owned places.
How can slow travel benefit my family?
There are many benefits to a slow family holiday. The change of pace means that you get to really relax in each other’s company without the distractions or worries of everyday life.
Travel can be about doing the things you value as much as it is about experiencing things that are completely new. If you’re staying in one place, (without worrying about sightseeing or travelling) then you can concentrate on the things that really matter to you. These could be cooking, cycling, looking for wildlife, reading, swimming, building dens, playing games, painting or anything else you might enjoy doing.
It can also be great for your mental health to have less pressure to plan things and more time to spend doing activities that bring joy to you and your family. Even if you do get
bored at any point, you can use that as an opportunity to think about something fun that you want to do together.
You’re much more likely to meet other families when you’re not rushing about and if kids can play together, this means less time entertaining them yourself! Another benefit is that you explore a small area very thoroughly so it’s like micro tourism, which means that there’s always something to see when you return.
Why is slow travel better for the environment?
The environmental benefits from slow travel are that you have a lower carbon footprint by travelling shorter distances and staying in places for longer. Slow travel can be utilising public transport like trains, trams, buses and boats as well as walking or cycling. To help the time go by on longer journeys, make a list of things for kids to spot and tick off along the way. Walking and cycling are great for burning off kid’s energy and they’ll improve their skills as well.
There are more bridleways and pathways opening up in rural areas of the UK so it’s easier than ever to see nature under your own steam. You can also find places to go wild swimming, paddleboarding and kayaking in many places as cold water activities have really increased in popularity over the past few years.
These outdoor activities are fun, good for your health, can improve your outlook on life and have very little impact on the planet, plus you can often find them not too far from your home.
Why can slow travel be a more ethical way to holiday?
The ethical benefits of slow travel are putting money into local areas and businesses that may not always get many customers, but are still in areas of natural beauty. One of my favourite slow travel destinations is Anglesey in North Wales, as it’s full of brilliant local businesses and there is loads of coastline to explore.
If you’re able to slow down, then you’re much more likely to see incredible views, learn about each other, discover new skills, meet new people, de-stress and spot wildlife. So there are many benefits to slow travel, and by utilising school holidays, annual leave and any flexible working time you may have, you just might be able to make it a reality. Not every holiday has to be slow, but they might just end up being the experiences that you and your family treasure the most.
Written by Jen Sizeland
Jen is an author, freelance writer and producer with a travel blog that focuses on ethical and eco-friendly travel and living.
Twitter and Instagram: @landofsize.
Have you tried slow family travel? How did it go for you? Share your wisdom with the Seatkickers community on Facebook or in the comments below!