8 Reasons Why Slow Tourism is More Popular Than Ever Before

The Rise of Slow Travel

Slow Travel may not be new, but the “trend” is really taking off and poised for an explosion in the post-pandemic age.

Read on to find out how and why slow tourism will reign after this perfect storm. (See what I did there? Reign. Storm…moving on.)

1.) We’ve Been Stuck at Home

Even if you didn’t plan on travelling every year, being stuck at home has a way of shifting priorities.

An orange lined black puffer jacket hangs on the wall

Not only do we want what we can’t have, but many of us never saw a world coming where we would not be allowed out of our borders. Plus, if you were one of the few who took the risk, you might not be allowed back in.

Prior to this if you had a passport and the appropriate visa, you could go almost anywhere. Two years could slip by without an international vacation, but we knew that we could go.

When it is safe and responsible to travel again, most of us will want to, because life has taught us that you just never know.

2.) Travel is Always on the Rise (Prior to 2020)

Travel in general has become more popular, probably thanks to:

  • Easier online booking processes
  • Better price comparison tools
  • More competitive pricing (see above.)
  • Readily available information on the internet for almost any destination

In 2019, 44.8 million Americans travelled overseas:

Statistic: Number of United States residents travelling overseas from 2002 to 2020 (in millions) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Worldwide in 2019, 1.46 billion tourists travelled internationally, a number that has risen every year since 2010. This figure dropped to just 399 million in 2020.

These numbers would suggest that travel post-pandemic will continue to be on the rise, and therefore so will slow travel!

3.) Millennials Travel Differently

Even in the years leading up to the pandemic, 75%86% of Millennials indicated that their priority was to “live like a local” while on vacation. 98% said that trying local cuisine was very important to them.

A brown chalkboard on the side of a cafe reads "Slow Food"

Millennials are also more likely to turn work into a vacation, with 53% saying they have extended a business trip to enjoy the experience.

4.) We are in the Age of Digital Nomads

Speaking of merging work and travel, being a “Digital Nomad” was already a goal for many younger people, even before we were all forced to work from home. The pandemic merely propelled the trend, and now 29% of newly remote workers indicate that they would prefer to stay that way full time.

Upwork estimates that 22% of the American workforce will be remote by 2025.

a map from above with a couple's hands on either side, planning a trip.

What does this mean for slow tourism?

Having an income that isn’t location dependent, but still needing to work, means that many people will be looking to travel and stay longer in one place.

Pairing this with the desire to live like a local, it sounds like many Millennials will truly be living and working local while they travel in the future.

These practical assumptions are backed up by stats! This survey found that the vast majority of Digital Nomads travel slow, with only 17% visiting 5 or more countries per year.

That means 83% of wandering workers spend an average of 3 months or longer in one place.

A small girl looks out over a railing onto a treed square. A pink tile building pokes through the trees on the far side.
Silves, Portugal

5.) Travel is Emerging as a “Need”

I feel very strongly that travel is as legitimate an expense as any other. It’s up to me if I want to buy a house, lease a car, or spend my money learning the world.

Other Millennials and Gen Zs agree. Buying a home, owning a car, and even smaller purchases like TVs and luxury goods are far less of a priority to younger generations than the ones before them.

Part of this of course, is that we all have less disposable income than prior generations, and a staggering amount of student and other debt.

The pennies we do have are more likely to go towards enjoying our lives than investing in “stuff.”

Two espresso cups and saucers on paper placemats with cyrillic writing on them, sugar packets sit on the table to the left, and a retro napkin holder rests on the right.

So how does any of this mean that slow travel will be the method of choice?

It’s simple really, we aren’t panicked about our bucket lists or once-in-a-lifetime trips, because we know that we intend to travel again. We can take our time getting to know a place because we know there will be future opportunities to go elsewhere.

We also have less to spend, and slow travel is a great way to stretch dollars while on vacation.

6.) Baby Boomers Want to Slow Travel Too

Not to be left out, Baby Boomers also want to spend more time and money on travel.

53%+ of Boomers are now retired, and most are looking to spend more on a longer stay (albeit in more luxurious accommodations.)

Before the pandemic, they had planned to spend a whopping $7800 on travel in one year!

Text reads "You cant do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about it's width and depth."  H L Mencken. On top of a photo of a bubbly beach on a sunny day.

7.) The Rise of Mindfulness

The mindfulness movement is gaining popularity in our busy and stressed world, and the terms “mindful travel” and “slow travel” can really be used interchangeably.

The cornerstone of mindfulness is turning your attention to the present moment, and that’s exactly what slow tourism is about! :

  • Being present in your current location
  • Taking in the sights and sounds around you
  • Embracing a new culture without judgement

8.) Focus on Sustainability

Younger generations are increasingly aware of their impact on the planet, and how they can reduce it.

Slow travel reduces the amount of fossil fuels used in a journey by prioritizing walking over other modes of transport, and minimizing the amount of air travel.

Another sustainable “best practice” in travel is to keep your tourism dollars local.

A woman's arm spreads steaming dough out on a type of cloth stretched over a large bowl for making rice paper

This way your visit supports small business and regular citizens instead of big corporations. Often this involves staying longer in guesthouses or apartments, and trying local cuisine, rather than taking day trips and supporting large tour operators.

8 Reasons for a Slow Travel Boom

There you have it! That was 8 reasons we are poised for a slow tourism explosion. None of them are even a stretch!

Do you slow travel, or chase down the bucket list?

Read More About Slow Travel

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Text reads "Slow Travel Planning" over a faded background of a narrow street of row houses in Porto Portugal