How to Travel Slower and more Sustainably | Emma Lavelle
I used to spend my holidays rushing around in an attempt to see and do as much as possible, returning home feeling more exhausted than before I left. I cringe at memories of printing itineraries for trips with friends and dragging my boyfriend around cities without pausing for a break. How I travel these days is a direct contrast to the hectic holidays of my past; I now focus on takings things much, much slower.
Travelling at a slower pace doesn’t necessarily mean spending your holidays lounging around on the beach. Every now and again, this is exactly what I need, but I also love big adventures, road trips and city breaks. Wherever you enjoy travelling and however you like to get around, it is possible to slow down. It’s all about changing your mindset and letting go of the idea that you have to tick off everything in the guidebooks or photograph all the places you’ve seen on social media. You need to leave your watches at home and stop rushing around trying to get somewhere by a certain time. Allow yourself to go with the flow and go wherever the day takes you.
Sometimes you may have time constraints that you must abide by – a gallery might close at a particular time, or your hotel check-in could have a strict deadline. If you are governed by the clock, don’t be tempted to squeeze in as much as possible around these deadlines. Visit the gallery with plenty of time to spare, making that your only plan for the day. If you’re not rushing to get there, you can take your time wandering the streets and admiring the surroundings, and could discover a small local restaurant to enjoy lunch in before the gallery. Likewise with a hotel check-in time – if you are on a road trip and have to reach your hotel by a certain time, don’t be tempted to take several detours to visit landmarks along the way. Just enjoy the drive.
Travelling more sustainably goes hand-in-hand with taking things at a slower pace. Consider how you reach your destination: it is possible to enjoy slow travel when flying, but it is both slower and more sustainable to take the train instead. It’s also more romantic, more comfortable and you can admire the views outside the window during your journey. Also consider how you get around once you’ve arrived at your destination. If you commit to walking around on your own two feet or hiring a bicycle, you will discover all the wonderful nooks and crannies of the place you are visiting – but you will also be lowering your carbon footprint by not using a car, taxi or public transport to get around.
Slow travel is all about discovering the hidden heart of the place you are visiting, getting to know it like a local. Avoid chain shops and restaurants and follow the local people, shopping in markets and boutiques and dining in cafes and restaurants that are frequented by the people who live there. Not only will this give you a more authentic view of your location, but you will have the chance to strike up conversation with the people who live there, who could share their recommendations of their favourite secret spots of the place they call home. You’re also helping to put money back into the local economy by avoiding large chains and investing in local businesses.
To travel both sustainably and at a slower pace, you need to make conscious decisions about how your holidays affect local communities, local landscapes, and the wider environment. This could involve travelling by train rather than flying, or dining in local restaurants rather than heading to the nearest McDonalds – but you should also be more cautious of where exactly you choose to travel. Many places have been struggling with over-tourism for decades now, such as Venice, Barcelona and Santorini. If you are visiting somewhere that is suffering from too many tourists, be respectful of both the locals and the environment. Leave places exactly how you found them, put your money into the local economy and visit during quieter seasons. You could also look for alternative destinations that offer similar sights and experiences but would welcome tourists with open arms.
If you’re planning slower travels for your next getaway, being well prepared is the best way to start. If you can, take one long trip rather than several shorter holidays to save on your carbon footprint while also allowing yourself more time to explore at a slower pace. Look for local recommendations before you travel, so you can leave the guidebooks at home and get off the beaten path. Travel with everything you need to be able to relax – whether that is a stack of books to read by the pool or your camera to take photos while enjoying long walks. And, most importantly, travel with a companion who is equally committed to travelling slower and more sustainably, so you can make more conscious and considered decisions together when travelling.
Emma Lavelle, is a photographer, writer & avid reader living a slow & sustainable lifestlye in the English countryside. Emma recently put together a list of small and sustainable brands which featured Veske. You can find Emma on instagram here @fieldandnest