Discovering the Joy of Slow Travel - 2022 Travel Ideas

Marianne Stenger
5th October 2021

For many years, travel trends revolved around jet setting to far flung locations and packing as many sights and activities as possible into a single trip. Recently, however, a new style and approach to travel has been gaining  momentum. Both the climate crisis and ongoing pandemic have led many of us to rethink our normal habits, and this includes the way we travel. This has resulted in what’s now known as the ‘slow travel movement.’ 

As the name suggests, slow travel is all about slowing things down and staying in one place for a longer amount of time. Not only does this help us connect with our surroundings, but it also minimises damage to local communities and the environment. 

Rather than trying to cross all the ‘hotspots’ off our list, the slow travel movement encourages us to seek out quality experiences that allow us to immerse ourselves in a culture and learn something new. It’s an offshoot of the slow food movement, which began as a protest against the rise of fast food and the industrialised food system. 

With this new emphasis on more leisurely and mindful methods of travelling, many of us are opting to stay closer to home or swapping air travel for other options.

Wondering how to give slow travel a try? We’ve lined up some ideas for slowing down your travels and enjoying the journey, while also reducing your individual carbon footprint. 

Travel by train 

Outside of walking or cycling, rail travel is the most environmentally-friendly way to get to your holiday destination. It’s also a wonderful way to make the most of your journey and see more of a country or even multiple places along the way. 

Eurostar’s high speed rail service connects the United Kingdom with France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and from there you can continue your journey on to other destinations. Europe is also getting six new sleeper train routes, which will be launched over the next four years. The new routes will link up to the Eurostar in Amsterdam and Paris, and will link Vienna, Munich and Paris, Zurich and Rome, and Zurich and Barcelona, among others. 

For travellers looking to include more than one country in their trip, an Interrail pass is also a great option. The Interrail Global Pass allows you to enjoy unlimited travel between 33 European countries for up to one month. If there’s just one country you’d like to explore, you can also get the One Country Pass.

Travel by campervan

Motorhome travel has been on the rise in recent years, and according to the National Caravan Council, sales of motorhomes have tripled since 2000. Due to the high cost of purchasing new campervans, many British travellers have even taken to converting regular vans into campervans. 

One great thing about campervan travel is that it gives you the freedom to take things at your own pace and include as many destinations in your journey as you’d like. It’s also a nice step up from camping, while still being more affordable than staying in hotels. It can also be enjoyed all year round. 

If you’re not ready to purchase your own motorhome or campervan just yet, there’s also the option of renting one for the duration of your trip. Need some inspiration? Check out this post to see some of the best road trips for photographers in the UK.

Take a cycle tour

A cycle tour can be a great way to get to know a place from an entirely different perspective, while staying active at the same time. Travelling this way makes it easy to take days off along the way to see the sights you’re interested in, or tackle activities like swimming, surfing and hiking. 

Even if you’re not very experienced as a cyclist, cycle tours come in many different styles and can be tailored to your level of experience, budget, age and fitness, as well as personal preferences. 

Depending on the type of terrain you plan to cycle, you can choose from road bikes, mountain bikes or even hybrid bikes, if your route is not too challenging. If you’re completely new to long distance cycling, start by planning a shorter trip close to home so you can get the feel for your bike and work out how many miles you can comfortably cover in a day. 

If planning your own route seems intimidating, you can join a group cycling tour in the country of your choosing. This takes the hassle out of planning the trip and also gives you the chance to travel with other like-minded cyclists.

Invest in experiences

In addition to choosing more environmentally-friendly modes of transport, another way to enjoy slow travel is to invest in experiences. Seek out experiences that allow you to immerse yourself in the culture of a place while also injecting money back into the local economy. 

For example, you can look for local guides who offer cultural tours, take part in cooking classes and food tours, or look for local sporting events, concerts or exhibitions that you may want to attend. Selecting smaller family-owned hotels and restaurants is also a great way to enjoy authentic local cuisine, while also supporting small business owners. 

Above all, avoid over-planning your days. Having time to spare will give you the opportunity to go with the flow and leave a few things up to chance. Although slow travel may initially require a little more planning, it can ultimately be a more rewarding way to explore new parts of the world. And who knows, you might even discover new locations and activities in your own country or city.

Have you ever thought about compiling all of your favourite travel memories in a photobook? Check out these tips for designing your own holiday photo book or enjoy our detailed beginner’s guide to travel photography.