Ascertainment: visiting and traveling always faster.
Timed schedule, organized like a music score: 15 minutes to walk in the streets, 1h10 to visit a museum, 1h30 to eat your lunch… Tour-Operators impose that kind of rhythm. While the trip should be relaxing, these cadences make it an exhausting race. You must see everything in a minimal time span without taking time to immerse yourself in the local atmosphere. Once your trip is over, you have got your “cliché” pictures from your holidays and that’s all what matters, of course…
Real estate agents ready to sacrifice nature to massively build buildings and hotels, overexploitation of local resources, super concentration of human pollution (CO2, waste discharge…). Many touristic places are saturated due to travel dehumanization and mass tourism.
The French Riviera in summer is an example: it takes sometimes more than 1h30 to make a trip by car while you need 15 minutes to do it off-season.
Fortunately, there is an alternative to enjoy your holidays more: Slow Tourism (or Slow Travel).
Slow Tourism / Slow Travel: What is it ?
I think that it would be possible to sum up SlowTourism (or SlowTravel) in 4 words: authenticity, eco-responsible, experience, and slow-down.
SlowTourism promotes the using of non-polluting transports such as public transports, bike, horse, foot… Nature and environment are in the center of the trip by taking care to our ecological impact.
Generally, the SlowTraveler avoids as possible as the mass tourism and try to take different paths than Tour-Operators. It’s about a real state of mind close to adventurer’s one. You must be ready for the unexpected.
The legendary “take time” is also present in SlowTourism. Take time to discover, to connect with inhabitants, to enjoy the present time. One more time, choose quality (intellectual and human enrichment) of the trip rather than quantity.
An authentic journey.
Slow Tourism promotes the trip authenticity. It’s about real life experience. Take time to mingle with the local population, their usages, theirs traditional meals… You can also learn some local (if you’re visiting your country) or national (for foreign countries) languages words. The authentic journey is a total immersion in the city or the country you are visiting. Indigenous have so many things to learn us. Who are the better to tell us the History of their region? Without counting human values linked to this meeting.
I remember something about my journey in Montreal (Canada). A woman made us visiting – between midday and 2pm (during her lunch time) – some hidden places of the city. I still have in memory the moment where we entered in a hotel to admire paints exposed in the corridors… whereas we weren’t clients! What kind of touristic guide would have dared this adventure with a group of 15 or 20 persons in a private hotel? (We hadn’t time to thank her. She was living before… It was her pleasure to make people visit Montreal for them who are accepting unexpected… It’s time to me to tell her “thank you” if she is reading these lines).
Start slowly and taper off.
It’s an important notion in the Slow philosophy: the idea isn’t to live your trip in “slow motion”. But, once again, going in your own speed (your tempo giusto).
Some Slow Traveler’s reflexes:
- Let yourself be guided by emotions,
- Stay at the inhabitant,
- Choose a “love at first sight” destination rather than a “fashionable” destination,
- Be curious, listening and available,
- Adapt to local customs,
- Prepare your trip, but not too much…
Personal thought about Slow Tourism / Slow Travel.
First at all, I wish to sensitize you on one important thing. To my knowledge, organizations that work on the “Slow Tourism” label don’t exist. Many travel companies may use (or are already using) this designation to make business. Given that nothing is supervised, everyone does “as he wants”. Not at all fossil fuels transports for some, barely a Slow Food tasting for others. It’s up to you to judge according to your criteria.
Then, some Slow Tourism supporters are against the using of planes. Like the most part of the time, I respect their choices, but I don’t entirely share their vision. To me, flying to travel a long distance (like Paris/Montreal)) is still SlowTravel if, once you’re arrived, you are using public transports, sleeping at the inhabitant, taking time to live synchronized with the destination’s rhythm…
To resume the Montreal example, once I was arrived to the airport, I took the bus, then I bought a season ticket for the city’s subway, I lived at the inhabitant, I took time to discover Montreal and I found this adorable woman who made me visit “behind the scenes” of this beautiful Canadian city… Nowadays, I am still delighted with my trip across the Atlantic.