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sport, yoga, beach

Trending: Your ultimate guide to slow travel in 2024 ๐ŸŒ

Slow travel is gaining popularity in 2024, and rightly so. The fast-paced day-to-day of our usual lives has found us wanting to take a step back and enjoy immersing ourselves in different cultures for longer periods, explore less-touristy destinations and off-the-beaten-track gems, and think more sustainably about how we travel.

Our own research has found that 29% of UK adults have been on at least one trip/holiday in the past year that hasn't involved flying, and 23% would prioritise slow travel options for future trips if they were more widely available and accessible.

We're answering the most common questions about slow travel to help you plan a trip, find your dream slow travel destination and decide if it's right for you.

Published by
Caitlin Mooreยท13/05/2024

What is slow travel?

Let's start with the basics, what actually is slow travel? Think of slow travel as the relaxed, cultured and cost-conscious cousin of traditional travel. As the name suggests, it is a slower way of travel, taking time to really experience a destination. Slow travellers look for less touristy destinations and off-the-beaten-track hidden gems where they can truly immerse themselves in local culture and experiences.

It typically means to spend longer in a destination, using cheap or free accommodation, eating and shopping locally, and sticking to public transport or walking/biking to keep costs down.

Slow travel can be as simple as discovering your home town from a new and curious perspective, cycling around the UK or as adventurous as volunteering for a few months on a remote Greek island, or spending a year in Asia.

So, there's no exact equation to slow travel, you can have your own take on how you would like to slow travel in 2024, perhaps you want to dabble into slower travel or dive in head first to an authentic slow travel retreat.

Why should I slow travel in 2024?

There are many benefits that come with slow travel, especially for those who often get overwhelmed and anxious by travelling via planes and spending a short time in a destination. According to our research, 1 in 4 (25%) UK adults find travel that involves flying to be stressful and tiring.

Instead of plane travel, opting for rail travel

23% of UK travellers told us that they would go on more holidays if they could avoid the stress of the airport. Choosing rail travel offers several advantages, particularly for anxious travellers. It allows greater mobility, as passengers can freely move around the carriages. Train seats typically provide more legroom, enhancing comfort. Moreover, the stress associated with take-offs and landings, which often heightens anxiety, is entirely avoided.

Building more meaningful connections

With slow travel, you spend more time in a specific location, allowing yourself the time to make friends and build deeper, meaningful connections with locals and like-minded travellers. Joining Facebook groups or matching with users on dating and friendship apps like Bumble can help. Alternatively, you may find other slow travellers when staying in hostels or booking tours/excursions.

Deeper cultural experience and appreciation

When you spend more time in a particular destination, you are able to really immerse yourself in the culture of that place and to get to know it. You'll want to save money and opt to buy food from local markets and use local ingredients. You will have more of an opportunity to interact with locals and might pick up on how to prepare local dishes or learn more of a new language.

You can recharge

In comparison to traditional travel where you have limited time in a destination, and have to cram in a tight itinerary, slow travel allows you to rest and recharge while experiencing a new country at a more relaxed pace.

Remote working or volunteering

If you're in the position to work remotely, slow travel gives you the perfect opportunity to do so in a new destination and spend your free time living like a local, without giving up your job.

Alternatively, you could look at volunteering opportunities while you travel. In some cases, you can be rewarded with free accommodation in exchange for your work.

Travelling with kids

1 in 5 (20%) of UK parents with children under 18 say coordinating travel logistics with children makes the flying experience much more stressful. Almost 1 in 3 (31%) think slow travel would be a calmer experience compared to flying.

It's a much better way to travel with kids, one of our own Pirates, Kasha, says:
"My husband, Chris, and I met due to our shared love for travel, so our 20s saw us zipping across Europe on fast-paced weekend trips or longer-haul trips that tried to pack in a new destination every day. Then we had kids, and while they've brought many weird and wonderful changes to our life, they've actually taught us to slow down - especially when we travel! With kids, you need to factor in extra days just to acclimatise and to factor in sightseeing disruptions, like multiple nap times, toddler tantrums and bed times. This means that we usually book one destination to explore and we give ourselves plenty more time for the whole family to be able to enjoy it too."

It's a more sustainable way to travel

Slow travel is less harmful to the planet as it aims to mitigate the damaging effects that tourism can have on the environment. Choosing to stay in small independent accommodation or homestays instead of huge hotel chains reduces your impact, and by visiting lesser-known hidden gems with a local guide you are avoiding overcrowded tourist hotspots and supporting the local community. Plus, slow travel prioritises more sustainable forms of transportation such as walking, cycling or train travel, which can dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of your holiday.

Tips for planning a slow travel trip

Is slow travel expensive? The truth is, it can be, but it's very dependent on how you tackle your trip. If you look in the right places for cheap long-term accommodation and are savvy, then you can make slow travel a lot more affordable. We've listed our top money-saving tips for your trip.

  1. Well, the key is in the name, travel slowly. By picking a couple of key places that you want to explore and spend your time in, you'll save costs on transport vs hopping between multiple destinations.

  2. Don't travel in peak season. You'll save a lot of money on your initial transport costs by travelling off-peak, plus accommodation costs should be cheaper, which is even more important on a long trip.

  3. Look for the best accommodation option for your needs and budget. There are a few different options, but you need to think about what you'll be comfortable with for your travels. Here are a few options:

    - Airbnb: You'll often find better rates on longer stays, and prices will typically be cheaper when you're not staying in major tourist spots. You also have the option to negotiate a cheaper price. To keep the costs down, you can rent a room in someone's house, rather than an entire place.

    - Couchsurfer: You can request a place to stay for free from a global community of travel lovers who are willing to have travellers stay with them, on their couch or even in a spare room.

    - Facebook groups: Get acquainted with Facebook groups for solo travellers or the destination that you're visiting. It's a great place to connect with people and find out about cheap or free accommodation, staying with locals or renting a room.

    - Worldpackers: This programme allows you to stay for free in exchange for volunteer work in a range of different places/roles. We recently spoke to Nila, who volunteered at a cat santuary in Greece.

  4. Part of slow travel is discovering off-the-beaten-track destinations, which can mean you need to take further transport to get there from a major airport. You could hire a car or use local buses and trains to get to where you need to be.

  5. Opt for accommodation with facilities to cook, you'll save a load by buying produce locally and cooking your own meals, rather than eating out.

  6. Explore the destination you're staying at by foot, or rent a bike and cycle. This will massively keep the costs down on transport.

Best apps for slow travel

Slow travel is a great time to take a digital detox and to ditch the daily phone use. However, for a slow travel beginner, there are some travel apps that will make your life easier:

  1. Duolingo so you can brush up on the language before you go.

  2. Google Translate for quick translations, as you'll need to speak to locals.

  3. TripIt is the ultimate itinerary planner which keeps all your travel plans in one place including flights, accommodation, rails tickets and more.

  4. Xe Currency is the best app for quick currency conversions.

  5. Splitwise makes it simple to split costs if you're travelling with a group.

  6. Couchsurfing for finding free accommodation.

  7. CozyCozy is a price comparison website for accommodation. It's great for slow travel as it also pulls up Airbnb, home stays and unique accommodation.

  8. All Trails has a huge database of walking routes (plus some unofficial ones) that are reviewed by the public.

  9. Trainline is the easiest place to find train routes and prices, you will pay a booking fee so you might want to book the train at the station instead.

  10. Rome 2 Rio is a great app for finding different route types between destinations. Perfect for finding the most sustainable routes from one country to another.

Where should I slow travel to?

Now that you're all clued-up on slow travel, you may need some inspiration for your trip. We've put together a few destinations and ideas for beginners to advanced slow travellers.


Hire a campervan and explore the UK

Hop in a campervan (with 10% off and free bike rack) and take to the UK roads. You can take things at your own pace and cycle around some of the most beautiful spots in the UK.

Hike in the Lake District

You can start your slow travel journey right here, in the UK. We often take our own country for granted and don't spend enough time exploring it. In the Lake District you can find some of the most beautiful walks, take your time to explore some of the lesser-known walks or enjoy popular routes on quieter days.


Visit Europe by rail

More than a quarter (27%) of UK adults would be interested in interrailing across Europe as a slow travel experience If you want to visit multiple places in Europe, it can be tempting to take a quick flight between. But, there are some amazing rail routes linking great cities that let you enjoy the view along the way and slow your pace down. By opting for rail travel, you can hop directly on your train and avoid the stress and chaos of security queues and the dreaded two hours of wait-time at airports.

Travel from the UK and spend three nights visiting the Netherlands without stepping foot in an airport with this trip from Byway Travel.

Discover this often overlooked Italian city. Accommodation is significantly cheaper and it's a great base to explore more Italian hot spots or rural hidden gems for under ยฃ10 by train.

Volunteer in Greece

Volunteer in exchange for accommodation using Worldpackers. You could find yourself living at a cat sanctuary in Greece, spending your days helping out with the kitties and your evenings exploring local Greek cuisine.


Cruise the world on a cargo ship

This is a truly unique slow travel experience. Take a one-way cruise on a cargo ship and explore the seas from a different perspective. There are multiple journeys you can take and work into your plan.

Walk from France to Spain

Walk the full "Way of St James", which spans almost 500 miles from St. Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. There are tours that do this route in around 40 days, but you could also take this at your own pace over a longer period of time to enjoy each stop for longer. Once you arrive at Santiago de Compostela, you'll be spoilt for choice with local food options from the Galicia region.

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