Accepted Paper:

Taking the slow boat to New Zealand: an ethnographic exploration of the determinants, motivations and experiences of flightless travel  

Author:

Carmen McLeod (University of Newcastle)

Paper short abstract:

Using ethnographic fieldwork, this paper documents slow travelling between the UK and NZ. Interviews and participant observation with fellow travelers, builds up a complex picture of motivations for flightless mobility, illustrating how slower modes of travel can be both freeing and restrictive.

Paper long abstract:

We live in a world increasingly dominated by the hegemony of 'aeromobility'. Although there are clearly benefits from the speed and efficiency of air travel, there are also negative impacts such as noise pollution and carbon emissions. For those individuals who choose not to fly, or who are unable to fly for health or psychological reasons, flightless travel options have become increasingly limited, particularly for long journeys. This paper draws on three months of ethnographic fieldwork, documenting a round-trip travelling from the United Kingdom to New Zealand using flightless transport options. This includes travel by freighter ships, transatlantic liner, and long-distance rail travel. Data collected comprises: fieldwork diary; photographs; notes from informal discussions and audio-recorded interviews with fellow travellers. This data is used to investigate the motivations for being a slow traveller, including first-hand accounts of the consequences of not flying. The ethnographic fieldwork builds up a complex picture of slow mobility, revealing how travel options may be affected by 'tyrannies' of both speed and slowness. This paper contributes to a number of key theoretical areas relating to slow travel research. This includes discussions about the 'commodification of time', which has been linked to the dominance of a 'culture of speed', and the rise of the 'slow travel movement' as a counterpart to the dominant 'fast travel' paradigm. This paper concludes, in some circumstances, slow travel choices (such as choosing not to fly long-distances) are being discursively constructed as a type of deviance, despite historically falling within 'cultural norms'.

Panel P069
Slow travelling: a precious heritage or a sustainable strategy for future mobilities? [ANTHROMOB & IUAES-Tourism]