An industry buzzword for years, “slow travel” could finally gain mainstream traction in 2021. The idea is simply that you take fewer but longer holidays, thereby reducing carbon emissions relative to your contribution to the local economy, while also giving yourself time to properly immerse in a different culture.
Less time in airports and more time to relax, unwind and explore seem obvious goals post-pandemic. Wild Frontiers Travel says that from September to November its biggest-selling trip was a 48-day odyssey along the Silk Road, taking in six countries and 15 world heritage sites (£11,395 per person). Also in demand is a 21-day trip through the Karakorum from Kashgar in China to Kashmir.
“These trips are particularly popular with semi-retired or recently retired people looking for that true trip of a lifetime, and Covid has given them the time to plan for it,” says Jonny Bealby, the company’s founder. Data from eDreams Odigeo, Europe’s largest online travel group, seems to confirm the trend. In the summers of 2020 and 2019, the most common trip duration was seven to 13 days. Its forward bookings for 2021 show trips of that duration (32 per cent) are now outstripped by those of 14 days or longer (35 per cent).
The “slow travel” idea also relates to the style of trip, and walking holidays — perhaps the best way to become absorbed in a destination — also seem poised for greater popularity. Wild Frontiers has developed a range of new guided European walking tours in response to demand, often with a focus on local produce and wine, and including less-visited destinations such as Albania, Macedonia, Slovenia and Poland. Its “walking and wine” trip in the Italian Apennines, for example, explores the hills around the historic towns of Urbino and Gubbio, including a night in the tiny hamlet of Bacciardi, perched on a ridge and surrounded by forested slopes (eight days from £1,995).