Slow travel: Why the journey matters
Imagine if your holiday began before you even arrived at your destination. Whether you’re travelling for adventure, time to relax, or space for reflection, it could all start as soon as you step foot outside your door. Here lie the joys of slow travel.
Many of us live fast-paced lives and depend on holidays to help us slow down. But too often we return home feeling more exhausted than before we left. The stress of our daily lives easily spills over into our holidays with the rush of the airport and the pressure to see as many places as we can in the limited time we have.
That’s why more and more people are choosing to join the slow travel movement, to get more out of their time off. As sustainability climbs up the ladder of priorities for many travellers, slow travel is the perfect way to satisfy wanderlust, without costing the earth. Aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gases globally and with just one return flight to Berlin clocking up the same amount of carbon as thirteen return trips by train, taking it slow is truly the most sustainable way to travel.
But the allure of slow travel doesn’t just lie with how eco-friendly it is. As part of the wider slow living movement, slow travel encourages deeper connections to ourselves, people, places and nature.
When you travel by land, you avoid the stress of the airport – from waiting around to check your bag in, to frantically binning any liquids over 100ml, endless queueing for security and again to board the plane. Travelling slowly allows more time to unwind and shake off the stresses of your daily routines. The focus can be entirely on rediscovering the magic of the journey – whether that’s winding through stunning scenery in the mountains or waking up after a night journey in the heart of a new city.
Train journeys also invite meaningful conversations through communal seating, bar cars and longer journey times, helping us connect with travel partners and new people in a way that an hour long flight can’t.
In Sweden, slow travel is already mainstream since 16 year old climate activist Greta Thunberg kick-started a ‘flygskam’ (flight shame) movement with her train trips around Europe. And with the launch of the new overnight Caledonian Sleeper train to Scotland and the London to Amsterdam Eurostar in the last year, this trend is set to take off in the UK.
Unfortunately for many of us, time is a luxury and with limited annual leave, slow travel isn’t all that convenient. But new schemes like Climate Perks, developed by climate action charity Possible, are helping to overcome this barrier. Climate Perks is working with a growing number of employers opting to offer paid ‘journey days’ to empower staff to choose low carbon, flight-free holiday travel. Organisations like Do Nation and NatureSave insurance are already seeing the benefits of this scheme as staff return from holiday feeling more refreshed, and other companies such as Farmdrop are expecting the see the same impact after launching the initiative in January. With research showing 86% of millennials & GenZeds prefer employers that report lowering environmental impact, the number of companies taking up Climate Perks is bound to rise.
Appreciating the journey as well as the destination gives valuable space for reflection and invites us to re-evaluate why we travel in the first place. It reminds us that there really is no here versus there when you’re watching the landscape change gradually from one place to the next, offering enriching experiences for those who love to travel the world and protect it too.