Let’s be honest, the first time you heard the expression “slow life”, “slow tourism”, or “slow traveller”, you unconsciously had a negative feeling emerging. Maybe it just lasted a second, but it was here.
Why is that? Because, nowadays, we often associate something fast with success. The faster the tool, the better. The faster the delivery, the better. But something slow isn’t often related to a benefit.
“We have lost our sense of time. We believe that we can add meaning to life by making things go faster. We have an idea that life is short — and that we must go faster to fit everything in. But life is long. The problem is that we don’t know how to spend our time wisely.”
Carlo Petrini, Founder of the Slow Food Movement
Today, we will see that the faster isn’t always the better. And that sometimes, taking our time and slowing down a bit more can be extremely beneficial. Especially, on holidays.
What kind of holidays do you want?
During the year we work hard, handling many situations. We receive a tremendous amount of notifications, alerts, emails, and messages, daily. We are often busy and it became a standard.
Then, luckily comes the break: holidays. And we decide to search for the must-do activities in the destination we’re visiting. We have a list, we don’t want to miss a thing.
Or we decide to take a free tour. And we jump from a must-see to another with a group of 15 other regular tourists. In a few words, we keep during our travel the same hectic rhythm that we have the rest of the year.
And then, after a few days, we come back home, exhausted, with the need to rest for one or two days more.
Did you recognize some personal traits there? Then, it’s time for you to discover and enjoy a new, more relaxed way of travelling: slow tourism.
What is slow tourism?
Slow tourism is, first of all, a state of mind, a philosophy of life. The slow traveller has a specific lifestyle while travelling. That differentiate him or her from the regular tourist.
Far from the hectic rhythm of mass tourism, the slow traveller moves and live differently the travel experience.
The slow travellers take time to get immersed in the culture, exchange with locals. With each travel, they enjoy a new experience, living like locals.
The 3 main axes of slow tourism
In her book “Slow travel and tourism”, Janet E. Dickinson describes 3 main axes of slow tourism:
1. The first focus of slow tourism is the attempt to avoid fast means of transport. The slow traveller will try to move away from cars and flights.
2. The second axis of slow tourism is the carbon emission during our travel and impact on the environment. The lower, the better.
3. The third and final point of slow tourism is the quality of the travelling experience.
Let’s get deeper in these 3 points to understand better this way of travelling.
1. Choosing the right means of transport
Once again, in “slow tourism” there is the word “slow”. So the goal is to slow down to take time to enjoy more. The slow traveller avoids flights, cars, and trains to use more the bike or simply walk. Walking is a healthy option of course, but it also gives you more opportunities to connect with local people.
Walking around a new city also allows you to discover hidden spots far from the beaten tracks that touristic buses would usually take you to. Explore the destination on foot and you’ll see that you’ll have a totally different perspective.
2. Being concerned by the environment
Choosing tourism options involving a low carbon-consumption is a key point for slow tourism. The slow traveller doesn’t only connect with the environment and nature, but he/she also cares about it. That means as we’ve seen before avoiding, if you can, the means of transport with high-carbon emission.
3. Choosing the quality of the travelling experience over quantity
Once more here, the idea is to enjoy the destination and make the most of it. By making the most of your stay in a country, it is not said to collect a series of must-see buildings, running from a spot to another. It is not said that holidays are to tick all the boxes of a huge list of things you want to see or do.
You are on holidays to chill, relax and enjoy. Feel the atmosphere of the city you visit. Observe how people live and connect with them. Immerse yourself in the culture.
What are slow travellers looking for?
The slow traveller is looking above all for a quality experience. The slow traveller isn’t looking for collecting a list of spots but rather live the destination. He/she is in observation, aware of what’s going on around, the sounds, the smells, the sceneries, the people, the global feeling.
Slow travellers take their time to chill and enjoy the destination. They would sit in a local café and watch.
They would exchange as much as they can with locals to immerse themselves in the culture. They would ask them about their habits and customs and will try to live like them.
Living like locals
Slow tourism is also a way to connect with locals, exchange with them and learn from them. The ultimate level of the travelling experience being to live like locals during your stay.
Try local products and traditional meals. This is a way to expand your gastronomic knowledge and discover new local delicacies. As much as you can, avoid the big touristy spots and head for smaller, more local restaurants. See where the locals go and go there. And why not pushing the experience a bit further? Try to eat like locals! If they eat certain dishes with their hands, try that! Does it taste different? Some say it does.
Go to small markets or local merchants. Exchange with them. Buy local products. Why not try to cook a typical local dish? Even an easy one could be fun. Visiting a local market can be an amazing experience if you take time to enjoy it. All the smells, the colours, the sounds and tastes of fresh fruits and veggies can be an amazing experience if you slow down and take time.
Where do locals go when they want to go out a bit? What do they do? Chat on noisy terraces? Dance all night long? Why don’t you do that? Why don’t you try to learn new steps of local dances and dance with them? It could be an interesting and fun anecdote, wouldn’t it? This is another opportunity to connect with locals and learn from them.
A cultural immersion
Choosing to go for the slow tourism option, is choosing to learn in the process. Slow travelling gives another dimension to your journey. It’s not just visiting the touristy spots, but really learning about the culture, the people, the habits and customs.
The slow traveller has a more intense experience of the travel than the regular tourist. He/she creates richer bonds and memories with the place and the locals.
In synthesis, slow down, experience the destination and live it. Don’t just be another tourist visiting. As you understood, in fact, there is a huge difference between visiting a country and living it.
Why Cooltoural is a great option if you choose slow tourism?
In Cooltoural, we believe that beauty lies in diversity and that we can learn a lot from each other. We just need to give ourselves the opportunity to. This is why we promote slow tourism.
Cooltoural allows travellers in Malaga to meet locals. This way, they don’t just see the touristic spots, but they get to discover the real and more authentic Malaga.
The locals show you the hidden treasures here and give you their best tips that only locals know. Don’t just visit Malaga, get immersed in its culture and live it like a local.
Mona for Cooltoural
Photos by Designecologist, Priscilla Du Preez, Loverna Journey (2), Brooke Cagle on Unsplash