I’ve participated in the ultimate form of slow travel by walking the Camino de Santiago. Not once, but twice. The Camino de Santiago is a network of trails that cross the whole of Europe and ends at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. The people who walk the Camino de Santiago are often referred to as pilgrims.
I moved to Andalucia, Spain in 2011 and I walked the Camino Frances across northern Spain in 2016. The Camino called again in 2018, as I travelled to Porto to walk the Camino Portuguese Coastal route. At the end of my Camino Portuguese, I decided to move to Portugal to begin my own Camino adventure as a Camino Guide on the Portuguese Camino de Santiago through my company Wild Camino.
As an environmental activist, I practice and advocate slow travel at all times. No pun intended, but walking leaves the lowest carbon footprint of all. It was a pleasure to see so much of my adopted homeland on foot and to pass through villages and towns that would be considered off the beaten track.
Which is why slow travel is the ultimate way to travel ethically. Slow travel is a mindset that rejects the traditional ideas of tourism and encourages you to soak in your environment at a much slower pace. This includes slow transportation, by replacing flights with grounded transportation where possible, which reduces the carbon footprint of such journeys. I make sure to take night trains or buses whenever I can. I ask all of my clients to offset the carbon footprint from their flights through companies that help the environment.
Slow travel doesn’t just help the environment though. Slow travel, by wandering through random areas of a destination, i.e. the Camino de Santiago, brings much-needed tourism into remote areas that might be considered off the beaten track. This additional revenue helps to keep small communities alive.
I’m hoping that the crisis brought about by the coronavirus and our need to consider our carbon footprint whenever we travel in the future, will encourage people to adopt a slow travel approach. This way, we can wander and wonder at the world without harming our planet and help small communities continue to thrive.
So, the next time you hit the road, ask yourself just how slow you can go?
If you plan to walk the Camino de Santiago, check out my book, A Wild Woman’s Guide To The Camino de Santiago. I share everything you need to know before you begin your Camino. Read at A Wild Woman’s Guide To The Camino De Santiago or click the link below.
Featured Image Photo Credit – Mark’s Camino on Instagram