Have you heard of the slow travel movement? This new concept in travel is by far more economical, less stressful and allows for a more meaningful overseas experience. It’s quite the opposite of how we humans usually travel. As a concept it means travelling less but gaining a lot more in return.
The principles of slow travel are simple – move less, travel longer, go deeper and experience more.
Move Less, Stay longer
You can’t maintain a quick-paced trip for very long. Two months is about my maximum for a backpacking-style trip, bopping from one city to the next every few days. While it might be fun, long term it’s very draining. Quick travel only allows you to skim the surface of a city or country. By travelling slower you can get a better feel of what the city is like, how it’s people live and all it has to offer.
Stretching your travel dollars further is the key to travelling longer and the best way to do this is by slowing down. The more you move, the greater the cost. The actual act of travel can be expensive – flights, visas, hotels, even bus tickets. They all add up. By travelling slow you cut back on a lot of the to-ing and fro-ing and can really trim your budget right back. In fact, if you pick the right countries you can actually live much cheaper than you would at home.
Focus on the Lifestyle
Slow travel is a lifestyle choice not a vacation. Don’t think of it in the same way you would a week’s holiday at a resort. You won’t be spending hundreds of dollars a night on accommodation, eating out for every meal and stuffing your day full of sightseeing. Slow travel is more about soaking up the culture and getting a glimpse into a different world. Going about your daily business in a foreign environment – shopping at markets, chatting to neighbours, lounging in a park, can be just as exciting as traipsing around temples, museums and galleries. In fact, I think I prefer it.
Rent an Apartment or House
Go for an apartment instead of a hostel or a hotel. Renting an apartment for a week can cost you around the same as staying in a hotel for a few nights. The longer you rent an apartment for, the cheaper it gets. Not only will an apartment save you money on accommodation but you’ll also be able to cook your own meals, do laundry and have some much needed personal space. When travelling with kids, apartments will allow you to have separate bedrooms for the little ones which makes it a lot easier to get them to sleep. Downtime is also important which travelling as a family – spend time colouring, reading or watching DVDs to avoid overstimulation. It’s a lot easier to do this from an apartment.
Become Part of a Community
Talk to people. Get to know your neighbours, vendors at markets, other parents at the playground, people on the bus. Put yourself in situations which give you access to the local community. No doubt they’ll be intrigued about you, your country but also how you like their city, country, culture or cuisine.
Follow Your Interests
Let your interests drive your lifestyle. Rather than having a job dictate where you should be in the world and what you should do with your time, follow your passions. Head to a location which specialises in a certain hobby you’re into or skill that you’d like to develop. Lee is passionate about Kung Fu – he’s already a brown tip belt, so he’ll try and find centres to practice and hone his skill wherever we are in the world.
Learn something new. Pick up painting, go to a language school, learn to cook, try your hand at Tango. In each city you go to, attempt to learn a new skill. It’s a great way to meet people plus will give you some much needed alone time if you’re travelling with a partner or family.
Take a break from your slow travel lifestyle. Just as you would if you were living and working in your home country, you need to take regular vacations to keep yourself energized and refreshes. We’ve been stationary in the Sunshine Coast for the past month but are really looking forward to a six day holiday to Melbourne in a few weeks time. We’ll stay in a hotel, eat out and see the sights. Even though we’re still in Australia we’ll be doing something completely contrary to our slow travel lifestyle. I’m sure it will make us appreciate both sides of the travel equation – fast and slow.
If you pick a central hub location, you can explore and entire region or continent from your slow travel base. Fellow family travel bloggers A King’s Life are a great example. They’ve based themselves in Bali and have explored far-flung parts of Indonesia, partied with travelling families in Malaysia and experienced the famous Loi Krathong lantern festival in Thailand.
Generally the idea of slow travel appeals to me, isn’t it all what we travel for. To understand culture, different mentalities and customs? But it is more like living in the place than travelling. Long time ago I have spent 8 months in Spain, I rented an apartment, made friends, learned Spanish, and did lots of travelling around. But somehow I never say I was slow travelling in Spain, I always say I lived there. Travel itself is about movement, if you take movement out of it what is there left to it?
Many people who travel claim that travel itself is more important than the destination.
I’m all about slow travel, and i LOVE this!
We move a little faster then the slowest of slow travellers, but I am a huge fan of this type of travel. Glad to be part of the movement 🙂
You hit the nail on the head for sure with this one! We base ourselves out of Spain and are exploring parts of Europe. Right now we are on the fast track through Italy and only 3 weeks in we are tired. Time to slow down for the rest of the trip. We should know better!
Very much agree with this – when I first set off I wanted to see and do everything. That gets old quickly, so now we’re travelling much, much slower and revisiting a few of the places we rushed through
I love to travel slow, my favorite is to do a home exchange at a location and take lots of day trips close to the place I’ve exchanged. You really get immersed into local culture, lifestyle and food and get a better understanding and experience from this type of travel.
Agree with two hands! I love slow travel.
This concept really appeals to me and it’s very satisfying to be able to immerse yourself in a country and it’s culture. I just wish there was always enough time to do this – it’s hard if you’re only vacationing for a week or two.
I think I would enjoy slowing down a bit on our future travels. I like the idea, but don’t think it’s feasible with our life right now. Thanks for sharing!
i love this. i feel that only through slow travel have we been able to pursue life-long passions, make meaningful relationships around the world as we’ve formed community, and found our spiritual light. we’re in year three on the road and have only lived in 12 countries. shocker, right? we’ve stayed in the same spot for weeks up to five months at a time. now, in moalboal, philippines, kobi is doing his dive master and the kids have the best street life! The best. We just wrote a post called Street Smartology talking about their street loving fun. So, yes, slow is the way. thank you dear!
When I moved abroad, it was a choice between teaching in Spain for eight months, or doing a backpacking trip around Europe for a few weeks. Spain obviously won out, and it’s been everything I’ve wanted – I speak fluent Spanish, have a community and have loads of long weekends and breaks to travel around Europe. I went from wanting to tick off a ton of countries to actually enjoying going back to destinations I enjoy. It took me a while to really carve out my niche here, but I’m happy!
I absolutely love the slow traveling movement. I didn’t really know that it had a name per say until recently, but my husband and I try to to travel this way as much as possible. As with a lot of people finances are a big thing for us so we can’t often travel as long as we’d like, but we really enjoy getting to know the heart of wherever we are.
Slow travel is much more satisfying. I always research my destination and spend time looking for off-the-beaten-track restaurants and stay in apartments or farms. In fact, during one of my slow trips in Italy I discovered Abruzzo and decided to settle down here.
I am definitely partial to a bit of slow travel. Sometimes we only have a week to spend, which wouldn’t seem to match the slow travel philosophy, but I think what you choose to do makes a lot of difference, too. Are you ticking off sights or wandering “aimlessly” around town to see what there is to look at in the day to day world of where you are? Are you searching for the perfect restaurant or choosing to eat at a random cross-section of places to get a feel for what the local scene is? Etc.
There’s definitely a spectrum from one end to the other – it’s not *this* is fast, and *that* is slow. I also think people’s travel styles evolve and change through their lifespan and according to their previous travel experiences.
If you have been in a country for 2 years does that still count as slow travel? 😉
I think slow travel is definitely the way to go. The older I get, the more exhausting constant traveling becomes actually.
Generally I love this concept, practically I can not leave my career behind – I am so conflicted!!! – I guess I will have to find the balance between great escpaes and a job that makes it possible (helps I love what I do)
I’d say it depends on a person. Whatever floats your boat! Personally, I enjoy slow travel and have lived in different places at different times, but I also appreciate those quick trips I’ve made in between.
slow travel is a great way to merge under the skin of a particular country/city. lots of tourists are in a rat race to see important landmarks and huddle down to the next destination. They miss many things & unique experiences, so the best way is to travel slowly and seep in the local culture and interact with the local people, mostly take the local transport and stay in home stays.
We love slow travel as well! Particularly with kids it seems like the best way to do it, but I think even childless we would enjoy it better that way.