Slow Travel: What Is It and Where Can You Experience It?
We live in a fast-paced world, trying to cram as much as possible into every waking hour. Fast food chains encourage us to eat on the move; fitness classes are condensed into intense bursts; finding love is accelerated by speed dating; even sleep can be shortened into power naps.
Many of us transfer this ‘all-or-nothing' mentality into our holidays: ticking off as many tourist sights and dining in as many recommended restaurants as possible in our valuable time off work. But how much do you really see, taste, absorb...?
Surely, life should be about balance: holidays should be a time to relax, refresh and reconnect. And there you have it - the underlying ethos of 'Slow Travel'.
As well as the most obvious elements of travelling using unhurried modes of transport such as walking, cycling, boat trips, and planning to do fewer things in your available time frame, Slow Travel is about taking time to appreciate your surroundings, switching off technological distractions, making real and meaningful connections.
Author: Gemma Wilson
Main Image: Viewing platform at Shobac, Canada
Where to embrace Slow Travel
Floating Dreams - Cheshire
Experience a calmer pace of holiday as you cruise the picturesque waterways of the Shropshire Union Canal (a.k.a the ‘Shroppie') aboard your private, 58-foot narrowboat. The Adele Marie is a cosy, floating home-from-home, with a fully equipped kitchen, compact but well-appointed bathroom and space to sleep up to six people.
It's easy to while away your days relaxing on deck with a book / coffee / G&T as the charmingly rural scenery floats past, punctuated with leisurely pub lunches. The Floating Dreams team are happy to make journey suggestions, however the duration, pace and place are completely up to you.
The Stonehouses - Scotland
Tucked away in a remote, sparsely populated location in the Scottish Highlands, The Stonehouses are ideally situated for an off-the-grid escape. Immerse yourself in the stunning natural surrounds on invigorating stomps through the highlands and strolls along secluded beaches.
Take time to soak up the serenity, embrace the solitude and reconnect with nature. If you're slightly nervous about being totally cut off from civilisation, you'll be relieved to know the small village of Ullapool is within walking distance. Pick up supplies in the village market (the local seafood is particularly good) before retreating to the comfort of your Stonehouse where panoramic views can be enjoyed from pretty much every room, including the in-house sauna.
Traustholtsholmi - Iceland
You can't get more off-grid than Traustholtsholmi. This remote private island, positioned within one of Iceland's largest glacial rivers, remains untouched by modern development: a windmill generates electricity and rainwater is harvested. You'll be warmly welcomed by the island's sole inhabitant, Hakon, with accommodation provided in snug, wool insulated, Mongolian yurts.
Days are spent exploring the island, fishing for wild salmon, or simply wondering at the vastness of the sky. Whilst you may not be ready to embrace Hakon's unique, solitary lifestyle, a taste of the simplicity and slow pace of life is good for the soul. If that's not enough to entice you, there's the chance of witnessing the spectacular Northern Lights.
Siesta Campers - Portugal
The iconic VW campervan conjures up thoughts of carefree, open road adventure, so what better way to explore Portugal than in a much-loved, remodelled VW. You don't need to be a hip surf dude or a festival goer, you don't even need to be a seasoned campervanner!
Collect the van from Faro, Lisbon or Porto, get behind the wheel and you can't help but smile and loosen up. There's something exhilarating about having no fixed plan and not having to rush to get to a pre-booked hotel. You have the freedom to travel at your own pace, stopping where and when you wish, and its way more comfortable than overnighting under canvas.
Rosita - Switzerland
Another retro style road trip can be experienced in Rosita's brightly coloured, vintage caravans. High speeds are not possible when you're towing a caravan - this is the ultimate slow travel transportation. From Rosita's base in the East Swiss village of Wittenbach you can trundle through Switzerland, Austria and Germany.
The route you take is completely up to you. The vans are compact but comfortable with no TV's or technological distractions from the beautiful natural scenery. Park up beside crystal clear lakes, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and embrace the unhurried pace of travel. Not only do Rosita's vans make for a fun holiday experience, as each van is towed by an electric car, you're doing your bit for the environment.
Atatu PurePod - New Zealand
Atatu PurePod is a holiday home like no other. This one-bedroom retreat is constructed from glass. Yes - really! Glass walls, glass ceilings and even a glass floor, to maximise the uninterrupted scenic views from its isolated, hill-top perch, overlooking rolling hills and native bush towards the ocean.
As you drop off to sleep, you can gaze at the stars through the glass ceiling and in the morning watch the sun rise without leaving your bed! The pod has all the facilities required for a comfortable stay: cooking equipment, a great shower, comfy deck chairs and a telescope (of course), so you could be forgiven for not wanting to leave.
Simply sit back, relax and indulge in the isolation. However, if you do decide to venture out or need to stock up on suppliers, the vineyards of Waipara and small town of Amberley with its thrift shops and cafes, are a short drive away.
Shobac - Canada
For a complete escape from the rat-race of everyday life, retreat to the ends of the Earth. That's a slight exaggeration, but the location of the Shobac cottages on a rugged peninsula on Nova Scotia's south east coast feels wonderfully wild and blissfully remote.
Surrounded by sea and pristine beaches; undulating hills and dramatic cliffs, it's the ideal place to fully immerse yourself in nature whether you're exploring by sea-kayak or hiking to Gaff Point cliffs. If this sounds a little active, it's perfectly acceptable to hole up in your cottage and embrace the peace and solitude.
Uniquely positioned to afford the best views, the four wooden cottages are stylishly simple and uncluttered, yet feature every creature comfort needed for a stress-free getaway.