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Slow travel

Back in 1989, slow food was created in Italy as a reaction to the increasing globalisation and standardisation of food, especially fast food (hence its name). Its aim was to preserve, encourage and promote local culinary specialities. That idea has since spread widely. Now we are seeing a cousin beginning to make headlines.

Slow travellers eschew plane travel and especially short breaks in distant places. They prefer to travel more gently, by train, bus, cargo ship, even bicycle. They want to luxuriate in the experience of a stress-free journey, not rush to a destination. That such slow travel is kinder on the environment because of its lower carbon footprint is a bonus.

For most travellers, the thought of trying to get to some long-haul destination by train or ship is daunting. It takes too long or it’s difficult to arrange and more expensive than by plane. A recent news story about a woman from North Wales who got to a friend’s wedding in Brisbane by train, bus and boat via Moscow, Beijing, Hanoi, Singapore and Darwin, taking two months, is either an awful warning or an inspiration. Most slow travellers stick to European destinations where the good rail system makes access easy.

Slow Travel is also gaining traction in other countries. “The global affliction of the hurry virus has afflicted every corner of the planet,” says Carl Honoré, the London-based author of In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed.

Time Magazine, 25 Sep. 2006

The West family obligingly took the train to Tuscany rather than travelling by air, to test out the delights of slow travel. Two days and three hours later, they finally arrived, after one missed train, broken air-conditioning in the sleeper compartment and a couple of sightseeing stop-offs.

The Independent, 25 Jan. 2007

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 10 Feb. 2007

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Last modified: 10 February 2007.