• Beijing's transport commission unveiled its WeChat account to reach more people who seek the group's services.

Beijing's transport commission unveiled its WeChat account to reach more people who seek the group's services. (Photo : Reuters)

Wan Lixin of the Shanghai Daily publication shared an important reminder with readers on Wednesday in the closing days of the annual Spring Festival holiday period.

Wan described a "WeChat era," in which the overseas tourism experiences of Chinese nationals can be easily shared with the click of a social media button, and asked compatriots to consider the more meaningful aspects of travel that can be lost in such a time period.

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While the author's detailed accounts of the Spring Festival period for Chinese tourists in Japan--in which Wan relays the popularity of Japanese toilet seats, supposedly toxin-free Japanese rice and close to a billion U.S. dollars of spending--are illuminating and make for lighthearted reading, a wanting gap still looms large despite the veracity of the writer's down-to-earth sentiment.

The existence of competitiveness in all areas of life has been well established in the era of social media and, while it is slightly disconcerting to think that travelers are thinking in such terms instead of absorbing their foreign surroundings, the Chinese are not an exceptional case.

Yes, it is fair to emphasize the sheer magnitude of the Chinese tourism phenomenon, which is seen in all parts of the globe, but the issues that Wan raises are universal. The good news is that, along with the perceived ills that 21st-century technology might have brought with it, the remedies have also been fostered by the very same technological developments.

We already know about "slow food," whereby the convenience ethos of the modern fast food wave is turned on its head in favor of health and quality. Well now it is time to make room for "slow travel," an approach that provides profound travel experiences that reach beyond the cheap buzz of social media, and the vacuous retail "therapy" attained from endless hours spent in the shopping malls and designer strips of the world. Even on brief stopovers, there is always more to see than the shelves of duty-free stores.

Slow travel means that people spend enough time in international locations to see places grow as they themselves mature and develop. With the marvels of Internet and mobile technology, increasing numbers of millennials are choosing nomadic existences by taking their trades with them, working remotely from whatever location is most suitable.

From a shared space in Bali or a beachside location in Brazil, travelers are combining their life passions with non-native countries, in which they can nurture new relationships, truly understand new cultures and observe the changes in new neighborhoods.

For the Chinese, like any culture, vocational options that are tied to native homes are not conducive to slow travel, so it makes sense to spend time on tourism trips buying for post-holiday life and sharing snaps of visits to world-famous locations. But, from Beijing to Birmingham, the options now exist for people to slow down, so that they can make the transition from mere tourist to slow traveler.