Sometimes a city break or a long weekend away can leave you feeling more exhausted than you were before you left. Trying to experience as much as possible in a short amount of time while ticking attractions off the list can result in little rest and lead to ‘tourist burnout’. This is why some have been embracing a different way of holidaying - slow travel.
What is slow travel?
Slow travel in its simplest form is immersing yourself in the local culture, food, surroundings and communities rather than rushing to cram in as much as possible. Slow travel started as an offshoot of the slow food movement, which promotes local ingredients and traditional cooking, linking the pleasure of food with supporting communities and local ecosystems. There are no particular guidelines on how to travel slowly – it’s more of a mindset to encourage you to explore your destination thoroughly and build connections, immersing yourself in the local pace of life.
Is it better for the environment?
The benefit of slow travel is that it’s more sustainable for local communities and the environment. The slower you travel, the more likely you are to avoid harmful modes of transport, like planes, designed to get the job done quickly. Aviation alone accounts for 3% of global CO2 emissions, with a return flight from London to San Francisco emitting more than twice as much as a family car produces in a year. An intercity train in Britain, for example, emits just 16% of what a domestic flight in Britain would contribute to CO2 emissions. Travelling by train also means you can soak up the scenery along the way, making the travel aspect an equally important part of the overall trip.
How can I embrace slow travel?
Small changes like renting a room in a family home on Airbnb instead of renting the entire place to yourself can be a great way of getting to know people, and may even help you learn more of the language. Go for long walks and discover hidden cafés, farmers’ markets, independent restaurants and who knows what else! You can look for car clubs or car sharing schemes at your destination as another way of getting around and engaging with locals. Or if you’re really ready to commit to the slow aspect, you could even plan to complete a whole trip by bike or foot – anything's possible! Ultimately it’s about throwing away the bucket list and trusting your instinct, exploring at a slow pace and taking in the beauty of it all.
What are the other benefits of slow travel?
Not only is slow travel good for the environment, but it also has a positive impact on our mental wellbeing and physical health. In a frantic world of stresses and fast-paced lifestyles, slowing down does wonders for our mind and body: it lowers stress levels and blood pressure, enhances our decision making abilities and other cognitive functions, restoring our emotional balance. By slowing down and experiencing our surroundings fully, we give ourselves space to discover more meaning in the time we have.
Jen is currently walking the length of the UK and documenting her Land's End to John O’Groats journey daily on TikTok (@lil.jen_). When asked why she chose to do the walk, Jen said:
“I gave up flying 3 years ago but still had a desire for travel and adventure. Walking from Land's End to John O’Groats has fulfilled those desires, discovering the most beautiful parts of the UK that until now I’d not even heard of. Mental clarity, fitness and experiencing kindness from strangers are all benefits, but the reason walking has been so special is the chance to visit friends and family across the country, making memories that will last a lifetime.” - Jen
Plan to take it slow
So if you’re able to take a longer holiday and slow your pace down, why not adopt a slow travel mindset and give it a go? Let your sense of adventure be your tour guide! If you’d rather stay in the UK and avoid flying, but aren’t ready to commit to just using your two feet, we have a wide range of cars available for long rentals, so browse nearby cars for your slow travel getaway here.