A guide to Slow Travel Vacations

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What is slow travel?

Journeying across the Silk Road, walking the Camino de Santiago, and riding horseback across Torres del Paine National Park; slow travel has always existed. However, in more recent years its emerged as an increasingly popular travel trend – and we’re so here for it. The world is becoming busier, faster, and more connected, but with slow travel, there’s a real opportunity to stop and take the time to connect with your surroundings – the people, culture, and place. It’s about immersing yourself in local life and enjoying fewer, more meaningful experiences. It’s about dwelling in a location, and really drinking it in. We call this traveling low and slow.

Why is slow travel important?

Destinations are important. But so is the journey. And so are you. We strongly believe that slowing down the pace benefits your mind, body, and soul, the communities you visit, and the environment we live in. After the challenges of Covid-19, we think 2021 is the year to strip it back to basics, embrace the places we visit and remember what’s truly important about travel. It’s no longer about ticking off a checklist, but instead about leaving something for the next time you visit. As let’s face it; a country can never truly be ‘completed’.

Slow travel

How long is a slow travel trip?

Slow travel trips do not have to be ‘slow’ as such. You can still take your time in one destination even if you don’t have many days of annual leave. So, whether it’s four days or 14; when you take the time to soak up the atmosphere, chat to locals across the bar and explore a place by foot, bike, or train, the journey will make you feel like you’ve been away for far longer.

 

Is slow travel about the environment?

There’s no denying that slow travel is better for the environment. Afterall, taking the Eurostar train from London to Paris instead of a plane cuts the CO2 emissions produced per passenger by a huge 90%. And with an increasing awareness around the future of our planet, we’re certainly seeing travelers become more environmentally conscious when it comes to exploring the world. So, with slow travel leaning more towards walking, cycling and using public transport like trains, it naturally results in a guilt-free feeling and ultimately, a reduction in carbon footprint.

“Over the past months, we have been inspired by the virtues of slower, more purposeful experiences rather than quick, jam-packed, tick-box long weekends.” 

TOM MARCHANT, CO-FOUNDER OF BLACK TOMATO

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Top ten slow travel vacations

We’ve sat down with the team to conjure up our ten favorite slow travel experiences. From meeting local lobster fisherman in New England to learning the Dukha-way in Mongolia, these trips ultimately take in fewer destinations at a slower, more laid-back pace; swapping private jets and planes for boats, bicycles, and trains.

    1.  Journey through the beaches and vineyards of Uruguay
    2.  Hike across the Dolomites in Northern Italy
    3.  Take the open road in New England
    4.  Discover Sicily’s rich, beautiful history
    5.  Meet nomadic reindeer herders off the beaten track in Mongolia
    6.  Journey through the Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh in India
    7.  Set sail aboard a traditional Indonesian yacht in the Komodo Islands
    8.  Take a laid back, unexplored route through Cuba
    9.  Track endangered Western Lowland Gorillas in the heart of Congo
    10.  Slumber beneath the stars of Morocco in the Sahara Desert
Cabo Polonio in Uruguay

#1 Journey through the beaches and vineyards of Uruguay

Smaller in stature than its neighbors Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay certainly packs a big punch. Our nine-night itinerary will take you to colonial towns, verdant countryside, and wild coastline – giving plenty of reasons to stay a little longer (which we would naturally recommend). In Carmelo, lend a hand at family-run wineries as you learn the ropes of harvesting and bottling, in UNESCO-inscribed Colonia del Sacramento head out on walking tours at dusk with our expert guide, and in Pueblo Eden cycle around lush hillsides ahead of olive oil tastings. Don’t worry about car rental – the only way you’ll need to get around this charming country is via foot, boat or horseback.

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The Italian Dolomites

#2 Hike across the Dolomites in Northern Italy

When dreaming up a vacation to Italy, you may picture a checklist of must-sees in stylish Rome or grand Venice, but our Northern Italy itinerary serves up an entirely different spin on Italian life. Instead of the city buzz, we’re taking you to Italy’s most gorgeous, expansive landscapes – beginning with Lake Garda. Aboard a private boat with a local skipper, you’ll glide past quaint fishing villages and sweeping villas, with the sweet smell of limoncello wafting through the air. Then it’s up to the iconic Dolomites where we’ll guide you through the huge, craggy mountains on an adrenaline-pumping via ferrata classes. In the evenings, stargaze at Helmut Ullrich Astronomical Observatory with an expert astronomer and feast on Michelin-starred alpine dinners in your chalet. We haven’t even mentioned wine tasting in Monforte d’Alba yet.

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New England

#3 Take the open road in New England

In 2020 we saw the sharp resurgence of road trips. And of course, it makes total sense – complete privacy, the freedom to explore at your own pace, child-friendly, and nothing but the open road ahead of you. So, we joined forces with our friends at Auberge Resorts Collection to create a number of epic road trips around the US. But these road trips don’t just take you from place to place, they take you on a deeper journey and through the other side. You’ll connect with the culture, design, and flavor of New England as you make your way from Connecticut to Kennebunk, meeting lobster fisherman en route and bedding down at gorgeous Auberge properties like the White Barn Inn. And as part of our exclusive partnership, we’ll even give you a Mercedes Benz for the duration of your trip.

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Discover the rich history of Sicily

#4 Discover Sicily’s rich history

Stumbled upon by mythical Odysseus and home to the legendary Cyclops, Sicily is a region steeped in rich, beautiful history. And on this ten-night tour, we’ll take you on a journey full of great Greek Gods through to Sicilian Kings. In Palermo uncover ancient palaces, ride on the back of Vespas and sample delicious street food from the markets. Fleeing to the countryside for some rural farm living, we’ll arrange olive grove tours and traditional pasta-making courses for you to impress your friends once home. Along the way, we’ve handpicked some of Sicily’s most elegant, luxurious hotels for you, like Villa Athena in the heart of the world’s largest archaeological site and Mandranova high on the secluded hills of the southwest.

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Mongolia

#5 Meet nomadic reindeer herders off the beaten track in Mongolia

Featured in our Journeys to Come series, the landlocked country of Mongolia is every bit enigmatic as it is enchanting – continually defying all our expectations. And on this cultural journey, you’ll head deep into the snowy wilderness of Mongolia to meet – and learn from – the last reindeer herders in Mongolia; the Dukha. The Dukha have lived in the jagged peaks and snowy forests of Taiga for centuries, constantly moving their tented camps in pursuit of rich grazing grounds. On this exclusive trip to North Asia, you’ll share, learn and discover with them as you catch a glimpse of their wonderfully authentic world through traditional ceremonies, campfire cooking and reindeer herding.

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Leh, Ladakh

#6 Journey through the Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh in India

The Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh is one of the few places on Earth which is still virtually untouched and unexplored. It’s one of India’s best-kept secrets that we can’t help but let you in on. On this 10-night tour, you’ll escape to the unknown villages of the Indus Valley to drink in the refreshing atmosphere of Ladakh and meet its wonderful, wholesome villagers. We’ll arrange for you to meet with local monks, tour with local royalty, star-gaze to your heart’s content, and catch a game of Ladakhi Polo. This really is an escapist’s dream.

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#7 Set sail around the Komodo Islands in a traditional Indonesian yacht

The wonderful thing about Indonesia is it lends itself to any kind of vacation – and we think Komodo Island is just the place for a slow, meaningful break here. Setting sail aboard a traditional Indonesian yacht called the Dunia Baru, we’ll show you all this remote island has to offer with days split between hiking, snorkelling with manta rays, and searching for namesake reptiles. In the evenings cozy up around beach bonfires, and listen to folklore stories of how the island came to be. Spoiler: it includes a princess, the birth of twins, and a giant lizard.

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Havana, Cuba

#8 Take a laid back, unexplored route through Cuba

Travel in Cuba is intrinsically slow, and this itinerary is designed to take you off the beaten track to experience Cuba in all its authenticity. From exploring Havana’s street art and tasting rum with the locals, to strolling through the farms of Sierra Maestra mountains, you can certainly expect a total disconnect from the modern world here. Fill your days with horse riding, hiking, and fishing, before resting up at places like Playa Maguana, in one of the most isolated lodges in the country.

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Gorilla trekking in Congo

#9 Track endangered Western Lowland Gorillas in the heart of Congo

Worlds apart from the neighboring DRC, The Congo is typically regarded as one of the safer African nations. Teamed with the fact it’s still relatively undiscovered amongst travelers, we’re longing to lead you to the action in its flourishing wildlife-packed rainforests. After a pitstop in the capital city of Brazzaville, we’ll fly you out to the heart of Odzala-Kokua National Park to get back to basics. In the company of a passionate gorilla research team, you’ll set up camp in Ngaga, before diving in with the expert guides and skilled trackers for some days of gorilla trekking. With around 105 individual gorillas in the area, now is the time to slow down, listen to the noisy hoots, and navigate the dense rainforest searching for these elusive creatures.

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Family holidays to Morocco

#10 Slumber beneath the stars of Morocco in the Sahara Desert

After years of carving our way through labyrinthine medina streets, camel trekking through deserts, and hiking through the Atlas Mountains, we’ve come to know almost every nook and cranny of Morocco. And this Moroccan itinerary through the Sahara Desert serves up a beautifully, slow journey. Settle straight into desert life with a luxurious camp on the dunes of Erg Chigaga, before exploring the desert as its been done for centuries – by camelback. Traverse the sand-whipped mounds by day and stargaze by night.

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NOT WHAT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR?

Get Lost by Black Tomato

For those who really want to disconnect from the real world and push themselves, our Get Lost service is just the challenge. Train with elite survival experts before we drop you in an unknown, uncharted location for you to find your way back to civilisation.

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These trips are all about the weird and wonderful. Let a Mongolian nomad teach you how the eagle soars, learn the art of the Ninja in Japan, and sail across the arctic in search of the Aurora Borealis.

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Blink by Black Tomato

The ultimate luxury camping retreat. From the Sahara desert to the Andean Mountains, with Blink anywhere you can envisage it, we will create it. Stay where no one has ever stayed before and where no one will ever stay again. An experience exclusively for you.

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Take the risk out of travelling

With State of Flex, all new bookings are now 100% refundable should you cancel at any time up to 30 days before your departure. Should you change your mind, we won’t charge you. Find true flexibility and peace of mind when you come with us.

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