How can we (re)imagine slow travel in its spirit and its essence? How can we, as travellers, engage with this and all it has to offer ourselves, the landscapes within which we travel and the communities that are part of them?
I think there are three things to get our thinking and our actions started. The first is that we, as travellers, are reflexive and engaged. Reflexive here means the capacities we have to think about what we do based on ideas, ethics, values etc. This means we have a reasonably well-defined set of ideas and ethics which govern our travels, our interactions, our motivations and our experiences but they are changeable because we think about things. We move away from, for example, ‘cycling’ to ‘cycling because we want to engage with…’. We are actively engaged in imagining/understanding (or, often, re-imagining) the relationship between our travels and the landscapes/locations with which we engage through our travels.
The second follows the first. Because we are actively engaged with our travel, we continually refine our motivations. We don’t have a set of ideas that are unchangeable or ‘the framework’. What we have is a set of ideas that understand what we do, why we do it and what we want to leave behind, so we are always learning.
The third follows the second. Because we are always learning, and we are engaged with sustainable futures and the search for different cultural forms, we ultimately look at the ways we can bring our experiences and our ideas to a wider audience.
This moves the idea of slow travel away from just showing images and talking with friends. It allows us to start thinking about how we can translate these experiences into more long-term foundations for sustainable futures for the landscapes and communities where we travel and also those where we don’t travel, but know need support. This feeds back into the idea of ‘reflexivity’ discussed in the first point above.