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Why Slow Travel is Catching On Fast

In the context of travel, the word “slow” typically doesn’t have a positive connotation. Slow is the travel buddy who won’t get out of bed until midday; the round-the-block line at the city’s hottest new attraction; or the unhurried lunch service that is inching along, cutting into your afternoon itinerary. “Slow,” in other words, is antithetical to the core values of modernity: speed, connectivity, technology, and convenience.

As a result of these societal standards, travelers feel considerable pressure to see it all, to “do South America,” to embark on that 14-day, 10-country European tour, capturing each frenetic moment with breakneck speed on Instagram.

Perhaps as a backlash to this type of exhausting, and frankly, joy-depriving way of seeing the world, slow travel is enjoying a resurgence, along with travel that is quieter, smarter, and greener.

The idea is straightforward: turn down the speedometer on our travels, so that we can derive more satisfaction in the moment, absorb more wisdom from the locals and other destination experts (think: guides and conservationists), and do less harm to our natural environments, whether we’re on the beach, at a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or in a national park.

Says Sue Badyari, CEO of adventure travel company World Expeditions, “lt’s a case of traveling less and seeing more — rather than traveling more and seeing less — that is inspiring many people to undertake slow travel. When your body is your vehicle and you are immersed in your surroundings, life slows down.”

World Expeditions, which operates small group treks led by leaders in responsible travel, is only one of the travel brands getting on board. Chem Chem Safaris, which operates lodges and camps in Tanzania, is at the vanguard of the “slow safari” movement, encouraging travelers to “soak it all in” through activities and amenities that plunge travelers into their environments.

Luxury tented accommodations, naturally, foster such environmental immersion, proving that experiential travel doesn’t require adrenaline-pumping adventures. Designed to let just enough nature in, Luxury Frontiers’ tents allow the sounds of birdsong to pass through the “walls,” while bringing the outside in through large windows and other design elements found or inspired by nature. Luxe amenities like outdoor soaking tubs and showers have the same restorative and energizing effect.

As far as quiet travel is concerned, more travelers than ever are choosing to deliberately get lost and discover untrodden locales that haven’t yet been spoiled or even shaped by the masses.

Intrepid Travel is a pioneer in the space, offering responsible trips to “undiscovered” locations like Moldova, Honduras, Turkmenistan, and Djibouti.

“We’re seeing that over tourism is becoming more of an issue and everyone in the tourism industry is contributing to that,” says Intrepid’s Chief Purpose Officer, Leigh Barnes. “So we really try and take people off the beaten path. We’re looking at opening up new destinations.”

When it comes to smart travel — which leverages the skills, experiences, and wisdom of locals and guides — Intrepid is also playing ball. For example, the travel outfitter is offering 6- and 11-day solar eclipse tours to Chile’s Elqui Valley, led by award-winning English astronomer, Dr. John Mason.

As stalwart advocates of smart travel, Luxury Frontiers constantly leans on insights from local experts when scouting new locations, designing experiential programming, and building light-touch and locally-inspired tented and pop-up accommodations.

Which brings us to “green” travel, another pillar of Luxury Frontiers’ business. We’re constantly investing in green hospitality solutions, whether it’s engineering a solar-battery system like the one we introduced at Belmond Eagle Island Lodge; partnering with eco-centered brands like Wilderness Safaris, which has banned the use of plastic water bottles; or building pop-up lodging that preserves the integrity of the environment, like those we designed for the sales village at Caye Chapel, a private Caribbean island, home to the forthcoming Four Seasons Resort & Private Residences.