Welcome to Second Nature, a Q+A series with Jute founder, Ali Davin, that explores all things healthy living, with a fond emphasis on that thing she does best—interior design.
Remember when grabbing a backpack and a Eurail pass and hitting seven cities in two weeks sounded like a good idea? Now that we lead more stress-filled lives, rushing from place to place is often the last thing we want to do. What if you could stay in one destination, take in your surroundings at a more leisurely pace, and actually be able to relax?
With slow travel, you can. Inspired by the slow food movement, it’s a more purposeful, and sustainable, way to see the world.
It’s going somewhere, turning off, and staying in one place for awhile to really immerse yourself in a destination. I think it makes your vacation more relaxing because it’s a complete shift in mindset. We’ve become accustomed to hopping from city to city, staying one or two days in each, and always moving. Not only is it frantic, but that way of traveling uses a lot of resources and creates a huge impact on the planet.
Flying is the worst thing you can do in terms of traveling. The more you fly, the more carbon emissions you’re contributing to the atmosphere, so the less you fly, the better. The benefit of slow travel is that by staying in one place, you can walk, bike, or even take public transportation to get around—and that’s much easier on the planet.
The whole concept feels very European by nature. In many parts of the world, people don’t go-go-go from place to place; instead, they tend to have roots in a certain destination, and that’s where they vacation year after year. If you have the means to own a vacation home somewhere, that would be the ideal, but if not, renting a house or villa—or staying somewhere that feels like a home, versus a hotel—is the next best thing.
The point of slow travel is to fully immerse yourself in a place and feel more connected to the local culture, so where you stay should feel like a destination, not just somewhere to sleep at night. You want to look for places that feel like an extension of your home, so you don’t feel like you have to constantly be outside of your space, going places and doing things.
I’m personally drawn to properties that are built with local materials that are indigenous to the land and that seamlessly blend into the landscape. I recently stayed at The Rooster in Antiparos, which is this quiet island off the beaten path in Greece. The structures are low and made from local rock, and there are planted green roofs on everything. There was no grading done, so they were able to preserve the local topography. It completely blends into the land, in a way that feels functional and rooted into the earth. It’s next-level green, and that, to me, is the ultimate luxury.
It’s a more sustainable way to travel, but it all goes back to the environment and how much of a footprint you’re leaving. If you’re staying in a place that has been built with local resources, that’s not flying in all of its supplies, that doesn’t use chemicals or pesticides, all of those choices add up to lighter footprint overall. But you are still making a footprint.
Slow travel and slow food go hand in hand, so you should be eating local, seasonal ingredients. Think farm to table, and it’s even better if what you’re eating was grown directly on the property. Also be aware that your dinner might take three hours, and that’s the whole point. Slow travel is a whole different mindset.
Slow travel is less stressful on you—and on the planet.