Sustainability & climate

Wander wisely: why we're embracing slow tourism

Slowing down is good for you and good for the planet. Here's how to travel conscientiously.

Published on April 16, 2024

Couple hike through coastal forest

Do you ever feel like you need a vacation from your vacation? You might want to try slow travel.


Like the slow food or slow fashion movements, slow tourism means slowing down, being intentional and self-reflecting during your travels rather than just checking as many boxes as possible in a short amount of time.


In contrast to fast or mass tourism, slow tourism is part of the sustainable tourism family and encourages personal awareness, discovery of local culture and history and conservation of the environment.


Whether you’re getting ready to plan your next big vacation or interested in seeing more of the area around you, read on to see how you can make your next trip a ’slow,’ meaningful experience.


woman walks on boardwalk near a pond at Evergreen Brick Works


The benefits of slow tourism on people


Our human curiosity drives us to capture as much as we can from the place we’re travelling to see in a short amount of time. Curiosity can lead us to an overbooked holiday with little space to fully enjoy our experience.  


Slow tourism invites you to relax and unwind, instead of burning out while checking off a list of tourist attractions. Rather than trying to get everything in, it puts the focus on the authenticity of the experience and encourages you to learn about the customs and lifestyle of the place you’re visiting.


For example, instead of trying all the cafes and bars around, try to stick to just one. By doing so, you’ll immerse yourself in the culture, get to know your waiter, meet people, and feel like a part of the community by making a positive contribution to it. Plus, interacting with the locals will help you discover all the best places that you might be missing out on.


When you slow down and connect with people, you create lasting memories that linger long after your trip ends.  We’ve all experienced that moment when, looking back at our pictures, we can’t even recall where we took them. We might as well just google image search the place we visited.


Another benefit of slow tourism is that it’s also a savvy way to stretch your vacation budget. By immersing yourself in one location, you’ll cut down the costs of travelling from place to place. Plus, booking one room instead of multiple accommodations can save you some serious dollars.


Many vacation rental platforms, including Airbnb, offer discounts for longer stays. They also usually come with a full kitchen, helping you keep down dining expenses. Whip up your own meals with local ingredients, explore new flavors and embrace healthier eating habits compared to dining out every day.  You can even ask the locals for recipes that include local ingredients.


biker on a bike trail at Evergreen Brick Works


The benefits of slow tourism on the planet


Travel is a privilege that comes with responsibilities. It’s essential to educate ourselves about the communities we’re visiting and to respect the nature we’re traveling to see.


Slow tourism can reduce the environmental impact of travel. According to some of the latest research, emissions from tourism transportation contributed to 5% of all human-made emissions in 2016, and is expected to increase to 5.3% by 2030.


With the classic tourism model, we tend to travel fast and far, using the more polluting means of transportation such as airplanes or cars. Slow tourism allows us to use slower, less polluting transportation such as trains or buses, minimizing the total distance traveled and reducing our carbon footprint. You can really minimize your distance traveled by staying closer to home. A staycation doesn’t have to be dull there is always more to explore around us than we can imagine!


Slow tourism can also be much gentler on nature. In cases of overtourism, nature is often exploited and degraded to accommodate as many tourists as possible. Slow tourism, on the other hand, emphasizes mindful travel and careful interaction with nature, seeking out lesser-known public spaces or trails to evade the pitfalls of overtourism.


Rather than chasing after the next viral social media photo op, mindful travel is looking for hidden gems where relaxation and wellbeing is possible, far away for the stress of crowded places.


How to become a more conscious traveler


Are you convinced of the benefits of slow travelling?  While there is no single way to practice slow tourism, we do have a few favourite tips.


  1. Do your research. Slow tourism brings you to one city or place — so choose it well! You’ll want to find a place where you can plan a variety of day trips and where it’s easy to get around by public transit, biking or walking.
  2. Keep a balance between exploring and resting. You don’t need to go see something every single day. Take your time to sit down, listen to the birds or find the melody in the city’s sounds. Spending time in public places is a cost-efficient activity and a great place to meet the community. They also offer knowledge on the place’s history, so make sure to read all the signs!
  3. Support local communities. As a conscious traveler, you have the buying power! When shopping for food, souvenirs or booking your next adventure, try to spend your dollars with a local business versus a multinational company or your money will end up outside of the local economy.
  4. Travel off-peak. Not only you will save money on transportation, accommodation, and activities, travelling off-season also allows extra flexibility. Some activities tend to be fully book during peak season, meaning you need to book far in advance, and can’t change your plans. Traveling off-peak will also allow you to avoid overwhelming your destination and minimize the degradation caused by you and your fellow globetrotters.
  5. Travel close to home. You’ll be surprised how much your own area has to offer. Rent a canoe to go down your local river or rent a bike to go around the city. You can even download a regional trail guide and plan an entire trip by foot.


Women buying local product at Evergreen's Saturday Farmers


Practice slow tourism close to home


Slow tourism doesn’t have to wait for your next holiday! You can practice slow tourism right at your doorstep — you might be surprised to discover all the incredible nature and other attractions close to home. Take a day trip to a public beach, explore nature trails in your city or just visit your favourite public spaces.


Find yourself in the Greater Toronto Area? Evergreen Brick Works is conveniently located just minutes from downtown Toronto, and is accessible by foot, bicycle, public transit, and our free shuttle bus. Learn more about the ways to get to Evergreen Brick Works.


Evergreen Brick Works is the only tourist attraction on the Toronto Attractions Council to boast both world class LEED-certified indoor amenities and access to pristine nature.


Visitors can spend a whole day experiencing outdoor recreation opportunities and trying local food from the Saturday Farmers Market, or shopping local at the Evergreen Garden Market. Destination Ontario says Evergreen brick Works is “Toronto’s premier sustainability destination….one of the most unique experiences in Toronto.”


Interested in helping us transform public spaces into vibrant hubs for day trips in the city? Join us as a donor and help make it possible!