The influential 2003 book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and the 2007 movie The Bucket List both contributed to the travel trend that has dominated this century: the manic race to visit as many places as possible. This imperative has been spurred on by the proliferation of competitive airfares, the growth of the global middle class, and, during the last decade, Instagram envy. But more recently countervailing forces have emerged, like flight-shaming and restrictions imposed by destinations suffering from over-tourism, like Iceland and Angkor Wat. Then came the reset of COVID-19. As travelers made do with cocktails on Zoom and Duolingo Italian lessons, the air in India became clear enough to see the Himalayas again and Barcelonians reclaimed the usually thronged Las Ramblas for themselves.
Now, as the world begins to open back up, many providers are seeking to preserve those benefits by embracing the growing ethos of slow travel. The new Dolce Tempo trips (that’s Italian for “sweet time”) from Backroads focus on what the outfitter calls “easygoing” hiking and biking itineraries in locales like Zion National Park and the Loire Valley meant to draw in travelers who might ordinarily opt for the view from the tour bus. Since the pandemic, the Arctic-focused operator Secret Atlas has added a 15-day circumnavigation of the island of Spitsbergen, in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, aboard a 12-passenger ship, a route larger cruise lines do in eight days. And New York-based travel agency Embark Beyond created Embark Longer, devoted to stays of a month or more at roughly 95 resorts worldwide. In this time-out from checklist-driven travel, fast-and-furious ambitions bow to slow-and-curious immersions.
This article appeared in the December 2020 issue of Condé Nast Traveler. Subscribe to the magazine here.
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