The Travel Dilemma
The more we travel, the more we’re inspired to care for the planet. Yet the more we travel, the bigger our carbon footprint. Do you see the dilemma?
Today, the mass tourism sector accounts for 8% of global carbon emissions. The truth is the footprint we’re leaving behind-- even the most conscious traveler-- should upset us. We need a serious wake-up call.
“We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” — Native American Proverb
Let’s remind ourselves that we’re living on borrowed land and that our planet is a fragile ecosystem with limited resources.
So what is the solution? Should we stop traveling altogether? Where do we draw the line and how to make the right choice?
For us, becoming a slow traveler is the sustainable way forward-- not only environmentally, but socially, culturally, economically, and personally.
Choosing Slow Travel
Perhaps you’re familiar with the global Slow Food movement that originated in Italy in 1989. Its mission is to help recognize the strong connections between plate, planet, people, politics and culture. Contrast it with the concept of “fast food” and you get the idea.
In similar fashion, Slow Travel means we’re making a conscious effort to slow our travels down to appreciate, honor, and contribute to the places that we explore.
At a personal level, slow travel is reflective, intuitive, restorative and lively. It’s a conscious commitment to our personal growth, not our ego's. Instead of rushing through the top Instagrammable landmarks and restaurants overcrowded by tourists, slow travel celebrates local connection with culture, traditions, people, and environment. It’s a holistic approach that becomes less about us as individuals, and more about the community.
3 Steps to Slow Travel
1. Take longer trips.
Remember when rushed weekend trips to party in Miami or Barcelona were a thing? Or how about that European sleepless adventure where somehow, squeezing clubbing in Ibiza, shopping in Milan, paragliding in Switzerland, wining and dining in Paris, and then celebrating King’s Day in Amsterdam all in one week was a good idea?
We want to travel to grow, learn, and feel rejuvenated. Trying to squeeze quantity over quality is a recipe for disaster, not just for our own well-being, but for the communities we’re visiting as well.
The better alternative is to take longer trips. For instance, we’ve been loving Busabout’s Hop-On Hop-Off option. It allows you to travel from city-to-city with the freedom to create your ideal itinerary by choosing your own route and make free last-minute changes, so you can stay longer when you fall in love with a place. In fact, we’ve created a special adventure that includes four different VAWAA's you can do on your upcoming European Hop-On Hop-Off from Paris to Rome.
2. Dive deeper into a culture.
Instead of watching, engage. Doing tours, museum visits, and going to local markets can be starting points, but ask yourself how you’ll take it a step further.
Remember that magic lies in cultural exchange. Participate, contribute, and interact with the culture at its core-- the community and its crafts. Aim to get precious face-time with those who grew up there; they’re the ones enriching the very culture you have the privilege to explore.
When we dive deeper into a culture, there is an unconscious shift that happens and the experience and memories last longer because there is added meaning. Participating means we don't just leave with a cool story. It’s a two-way street; we give by engaging, and we also take back deeper learnings that continue to impact the way we interact with the world.
3. Think twice before purchasing a plane ticket.
The transport sector is responsible for approximately a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. Among all sectors, air travel alone is one of the fastest growing contributors of carbon emissions worldwide. These are hard facts we can’t ignore.
If it’s necessary for you to do a transoceanic flight, it’s okay to do it. Otherwise? Aim to travel by car (electric when possible), or take the bus or train when traveling to countries within proximity or when visiting multiple cities within a country. There are tons of accessible public and private transportation options, including ride-sharing services that you can prioritize.
For the record, public transportation is not a step backwards, it should be the new normal. It’s become sustainable, safe, efficient, accessible and affordable in many cities-- thanks to cooperative Heads of State and Government alerted to the issue. If locals use it, why not you? In fact, the new trend in Europe is to reintroduce night trains, instead of taking low cost flights. Plus, nowadays more and more options are designed with the passenger’s comfort and lifestyle in mind, often including outlets and wifi. Check out this list of the 10 fastest trains in the world.
Lastly, when you go for a Vacation With An Artist, you’re saying “yes” to slow travel. You go at your own pace, stirring up the artist inside of you. More than that, you engage meaningfully with masters, their craft, their community, their culture, and their traditions.
Happy Slow Traveling!
Want help choosing among 65+ slow travel adventures in 20+ countries? Contact us.
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