"If we have slow food and slow cities, then why not slow travel?" - Théophile Gautier
Slow Travel is an evolving movement that has taken its inspiration from nineteenth-century European travel writers, such as Théophile Gautier, who reacted against the cult of speed, prompting some modern analysts to ask "If we have slow food and slow cities, then why not slow travel?". Other literary and exploration traditions, from early Arab travellers to late nineteenth-century Yiddish writers, have also identified with slow travel, usually marking its connection with community as its most distinctive feature.
Advocates of slow travel argue that all too often the potential pleasure of the journey is lost by too eager anticipation of arrival. Slow travel, it is asserted, is a state of mind which allows travellers to engage more fully with communities along their route, often favouring visits to spots enjoyed by local residents rather than merely following guidebooks. As such, slow travel shares some common values with ecotourism. Its advocates and devotees generally look for low-impact travel styles, even to the extent of eschewing flying.
Aspects of slow travel, including some of the principles detailed in the Manifesto for Slow Travel, are now becoming to feature in travel writing. The Sloth Club Japan [www.sloth.gr.jp] produced a slow tourism manifesto in 2006 that incorporates culture, fair trade, ecology and spiritual reconnection and regular runs tours along these themes to places like Bhutan.
A new book series launched in May 2010 by Bradt Travel Guides explicitly espouses slow travel ideas with volumes that focus very much on local communities within a tightly defined area, often advocating the use of public transport along the way. Titles include Slow Norfolk and Suffolk, Slow Dorset and Exmoor and Slow North Yorkshire.