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Slow Travel: The Way to Really Holiday.
By Jennifer Collins ~ Weekly Exclusive - Global Views On Recent Trends
Friday, 14th February 2014
 

Exclusive Feature: Have you ever returned from a holiday or weekend break so exhausted you need another holiday?

With just a few short days or a week to spend in our destination of choice most of us want to pack in as much as possible. Galleries, museums, historical sites, bars and restaurants whizz by in a blur. But in recent years, a travel movement eschewing the fast in favour of the slow has, ehm, slowly been emerging.

An offshoot of the slow food movement that started in Italy in the 1980s as an antidote to fast food, the slow travel philosophy rails against the idea that faster is always better. It's all about trimming your travel itinerary and taking the time to absorb local life and culture.

Instead of speeding through the top ten tourist attractions in the space of a few hours, taking the obligatory holiday snapshot in front of each one, slow travellers are encouraged to saunter, sit and savour and get to know one small area well, leaving something for when you next visit.

The trend has been growing quietly for a number of years and has proved even more popular in these recessionary times as travelling slowly is often kinder to your wallet.  (One of the 10 principles of slow travel is to spend less.)

 In 2012, MSN Travel named slow travel one of their top travel trends for that year and back in 2010, Henry Harteveldt, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc told the Wall Street Journal that the movement was part of a "shift in behavior that will remain even after the recession ends ".

I was converted to slow travel following a particularly hectic inter-railing trip through Europe. After visiting five cities in a week, I had only a vague impression of each. I could've skipped the trip and photoshopped myself into my many many pictures of old, beautiful buildings, I thought afterwards.

Since then, I've taken the pace down, taking multiple trips to cities such as Barcelona and London, where instead of trying to tick off every recommendation in my guide book; I've shopped for fruit and veg at local markets, explored neighbourhoods, taken detours down side streets and found lots of hidden gems.  Slipping into the pace of another culture has been abundantly rewarding.

Many resources exist for the slow traveller. In Berlin, British travel journalist and guidebook author founded Slow Travel Berlin (STB) in 2010 to encourage tourists and residents to take in the German capital's myriad charms slowly.

The Slow Travel website provides the discerning traveller with an in-depth and varied guide to city, including articles on everything from the "social politics of Berlin's hummus scene" to Berlin's best parks all by Berlin-based authors.

Berlin is the perfect city for such an endeavour, despite its reputation as a "party town and bohemian" node, according to STB.

 "It has fewer people and less industry than most capital cities, which means it has less traffic and less stress," says the STB website.

Visitors to Stockholm can check out STB's spinoff website run by travel writer and photographer Lola Akinmade Åkerström, Slow Travel Stockholm for tips on how to switch gears in the Swedish capital.

For those who really want to delve into the slow travel philosophy, Daniel Roy's travel blog, The Way of Slow Travel, provides "hands-on advice, travel anecdotes and practical exercises".

In a world where our every-day lives can be hectic and stressful, as Roy says, "we can gain much more if we just slow down".

Jennifer Collins is a reporter based in Berlin, Germany. She previously worked as a local journalist and arts and culture editor in her home town of Dublin, Ireland and now works with journalists around the world as part of the international journalism organisation, Associated Reporters Abroad. Jennifer enjoys travelling slowly, mainly by train, sampling local street food and people-watching from cafes in far-flung lands.

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