Embracing slow travel


Published On

May 14, 2024

From letting the train take the strain to a road trip in favor of your dog, make the slow travel trend part of your August experience.

Traversing Tignes

In a world perpetually rushing forward, there's a quiet revolution gaining momentum across Europe — the art of slow travel. The joy of the road trip and the return of rail travel chimes with the times, peaking with the growing numbers who want to reduce their carbon footprint but who, nevertheless, want to continue exploring.

It’s called vliegschamte in Dutch and it’s becoming a buzzword over the last few years, as people attempt to lead more sustainable lifestyles and seek out more environmentally friendly transportation alternatives to flying. Luckily, the August homes include destinations to suit, such as Italy and the south of France. “Fun, familiar destinations with a little bit of kick-up-your-heels glamour and indulgence,” says former travel editor David Prior.

Let the train take the strain.

Better connections, compartments and the timely revival of sleeper train services add to the attraction. Plus, it’s an enjoyable and social form of travel. August’s founder Mélie Dunod tells of her friend’s train trip from Amsterdam to Barcelona - the buzzy Spanish city which is home to apartments in our Pied-à-Terre collection.

The joy of her party’s journey included a pit stop in France for oysters and a glass of champagne, as well as many interesting conversations with fellow travelers along the way.

As an August homeowner, Europe is your oyster and many homes are well located to tie-in with rail journeys, from the serviceable to the sublime. Last month the Eurostar Snow left the platform in time for the ski season. And once in a lifetime is ideal for a legendary Orient Express trip.

Train travel offers both a sustainable and supremely stylish choice - from Interail to The Interrail pass celebrated its 51st anniversary this year and specialist train operators such as Byway and Tailor Made Rail can build itineraries around Interrail passes. Your 21-year-old self may recall those days of the obligatory backpack! First-class all the way is at a very reasonable supplement.

From the rudimentary to the sublime. Or opt for the legendary Orient Express to indulge in the Art Deco opulence of this vintage ride, which runs approximately once a week from March to November and includes journeys from Brussels and Amsterdam. En route to Venice, champagne and a live pianist accompany you.

Homeowner firsthand experience

An August homeowner Malcolm says: “We are big fans of ‘slow travel’ - it was the main reason we moved to France from the UK and then supplemented that with our August homes.

“This summer we acquired a new camper van and will be using it as we travel between August properties, with our three dogs.

In September we took a leisurely drive to Southern Spain from Northern France, and back. We love the sea and sailing, surfing and paddle-boarding. This December we have booked four consecutive weeks - beginning in the south of France, heading to Tuscany for Christmas and back to France for new year.

“We are just planning the slow routes there and back, taking about three to four days in each direction and avoiding Autoroutes where possible. And via wine producers where appropriate! These include Côtes du Rhone and Châteauneuf du Pape.

“Then home for a couple of weeks followed by a week in Chamonix in early February. We will sample (and buy!) some nice Bourgognes in Puligny Montrachet on the way there and Champagne on the way back home (or vice versa). Also hoping to visit the custom ski maker in Chamonix and maybe make myself a pair of skis while we are there.”

Heading on the highway

When holidaying at your homes, a classic car hire to feel as if you’re driving in a movie is always an option - the French Riviera being ideal for this. From a practical viewpoint, road travel is a popular option among our homeowners.

One August homeowner, John, is based in England and says he and his guests have driven from southern England to the port of Calais, and then onto their homes in Cannes, Chamonix and Tuscany. They’ve taken flights to their Spanish homes in Mallorca and Barcelona.

The Soller tram in Mallorca

“We like to string together stays in various properties over a period of time,” says John. “On our last trip we took a total of four weeks, staying one week in Chamonix, then two weeks in Tuscany followed by a week in Cannes. These three homes are within approximately five hours drive of each other so this approach is practical. It justifies making the long drive and simplifies travel once at the properties.

Also, we take our dog with us for these longer visits, as it allows him time to settle and justifies some of the logistics and expenses associated with taking a dog to Europe. Clearly flying or trains are not practical with a dog.

Dogs welcome across your August homes

A Mindful Journey

At its core, slow travel is a philosophy that aligns with the August ethos. It transcends the typical tourist checklist. It's about fostering a deep connection with the places visited. Instead of ticking off destinations, slow travelers prioritize experiences, valuing the journey as much as the destination itself.

The slow travel movement seeks out destinations we choose for our homes. Quaint villages, off-the-beaten-path trails, and historic hamlets become the focal points of exploration. By venturing beyond the tourist hotspots, slow travelers can connect with local life and experience the true essence of Europe.

In the age of instant gratification, slow travel reminds us that the joy of discovery lies in the journey itself. Traveling to your August homes, from the sun-drenched vineyards of Tuscany to the bucolic countryside of the Cotswolds, the slow travel trend invites us to savor the moment. To talk to people on the train, at the station, and on your pit stops on a road trip.

As the world continues to spin ever faster, slow travel invites us to pause, breathe, and embrace the beauty of the journey.