4 Reasons to Slow Down Your Traveling

Let’s get one thing straight first: I don’t think there’s any one right way to travel; everyone has to discover their own pace, preferences, and style. That said, I’ve always been a huge advocate of slow travel. Everyone knows the world is large and there’s a lot to see, but here are a few reasons why it’s worth slowing down to savor each place.

Cheaper

The truth is that Brent and I initially started traveling slowly not because of all the wonderful cultural benefits (we realized those later), but because it’s arguably the cheapest way to travel.

The most direct way you save money when you travel slowly is transportation. If you’re blasting through ten cities on a two-week Southeast Asia trip, you’re going to spend far more money on planes, buses, and trains compared to someone who’s only traveling to a handful of different places.

Spending more time in a particular place also opens up opportunities for volunteering in exchange for accommodation or even finding paid work. This again means significant savings, or even added funds for your travel budget.

Particularly if you’re traveling long-term, slow travel also gives you the opportunity to rent an apartment for a month or two, which is far less expensive than paying for guesthouse rooms every night of your trip.

Go Beyond the Bucket List

When I have tried to tour cities in a day or two, I’ve usually felt conflicted about how to plan my itinerary. On one hand, I want to check items off my bucket list: See Notre Dame, walk across Shibuya Crossing, ride a gondola down the canals of Venice. The problem is that my bucket list – embarrassingly- is pretty much the same as every other tourist’s. If I only visit those bucket-list places, I would spend my entire trip wedged between other tourists. Not only do crowds get a little tiring after a while, but I think we all like to feel as though our travels are unique or special in some way and it’s hard to convince yourself of that when you’re constantly surrounded by hundreds of people doing the exact same thing as you.

The clear solution is to escape the crowds and visit some lesser-known attractions; but, the problem is, if you’re only visiting a city for a day, it can be difficult to find time for both. Slow travel gives you the time to get off-the-beaten path without sacrificing the bucket list attractions. It’s the best of both worlds.

More Environmentally-Friendly

I’m less hardcore in my commitment to this than others, but in general, traveling slowly means using more environmentally-friendly methods of transportation in the process. If you’re not in such a rush, you’re more likely to take the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai instead of a big-ole’ CO2-producing plane; you’re more likely to walk or bike leisurely around a city instead of taking taxis and buses. I can’t say it’s the main reason why I like traveling slowly, but it still feels good to know I’m minimizing my environmental footprint as I hop from country to country.

Deeper Connections

Paris is probably one of my least favorite cities (which I intend to go back and change someday), and I’m entirely sure it’s because I only gave myself two days to see it. Maybe it’s possible to find meaning in your travels when you’re rushing from one attraction to another, but I’ve never been able to find it.

The places that have most impacted me – even changed me – are the ones where I spent at least a week or more. I had time to get a feel for different neighborhoods, to talk to locals and other travelers, to discover favourite restaurants, and to just generally develop my own unique relationships with those places. It might mean I’ve visited fewer countries than I could have over the past few years, but it’s meant that I’ve been able to have full, rich, complex experiences in the countries I have visited. Even if you only have two weeks of vacation time per year, I think you get more out of spending those two weeks in a single city than you do trying to cram in a bunch of different places.

At the end of the day, I think most of us don’t just want to “see” other countries, but instead to know them, understand them, and connect with them. And slow travel helps you do that.

Do you like to travel slowly?

20 thoughts on “4 Reasons to Slow Down Your Traveling”

  1. I think there are perks in every type of travel. I loved travelling at a lightning speed as it gave me such an adrenaline…it felt great! Then I tried to slow down and I felt in love with the freedom that slow travelling gave me. The freedom of changing itineraries, going with a flow, doing spontaneous things, meeting random people – this freedom is priceless! So yes – slowing down might open new horizons! 🙂

  2. These are SO true! When ever I spend more days in a city I feel so much happier and like I enjoy the city so much more. It’s also less stressful and tiring. Paris is wonderful but I have to admit if you spend too short an amount of time there, you only get to see the typical touristy stuff (which can be quite underwhelming) give yourself A week to explore next time you’re there 🙂

    X, Carina

  3. Slow travelling is the way to go! There’s nothing worse than people who zoom through and tick the boxes without pausing to try and understand a place one level deeper.

    Another pro of slow travel is that it benefits the local community more than conventional tourism. When you have more time, you’re more likely to spend your dollars in out-of-the-way places that need the business more than those on the tourist track. One step forward towards more sustainable tourism!

  4. I don’t always get to do it, but yes, travelling slowly is absolutely the BEST way for me. At one stage I realised I needed two years in every place to really “get” it (after having 2 years in Japan) but of course I will never live long enough to see every place I want that way!!

  5. I love this. I am absolutely a fan of slow travel, although my first backpacking trip was fast travel. I sort of punched out the bucket list, got it out of my system, and then could go back and enjoy the things I really cared about or wanted to spend more time on. Now I am not so worried about missing things and I just appreciate taking it slow. I know I have as much time to travel as I want. But it is so much more worth it to learn some of the language, a lot of the customs, and spend some time. 🙂

  6. I always prefer slow travelling without a planned schedule. It gives me more space and freedom to do whatever I want. Sure, it’s scary to be going to some place without knowing what you’re going to be doing after, but thats the thrill! The best places are often a secret. 😀

  7. I discovered slow travel when I started to travel with my kids. It’s impossible to travel at a fast-pace with kids for so many reasons. And I appreciate slow travel more and more as I get older. Great blog post.

  8. It depends on the place for me. There are a lot of places that I just didn’t click with and was bored after a couple of days and ready to move on. I think it is good to find a balance and to stay places longer that you love and maybe leave other places that you don’t after a couple of days. Life is short after all

  9. There’s another money saving aspect to “slow travel”: you learn where to find bargains at your destination, so you get things and services more cheaply. Or you’re simply still in town for the weekly market, generally a cheaper alternative to supermarket shopping.

  10. I actually love to travel slowly and take my time everywhere I go… Super intense travels usually exhaust me pretty fast, so in the end you actually see less than you’ve planned…

  11. I travel slowly out of necessity (I work online), and it shows me certain cities aren’t scary as I made them out to be in my mind. You get to experience life more like a local, and it doesn’t stop you from seeing the sights like any other tourist – it’s great!

  12. Recently, I spent time traveling in Vietnam and the Phillippines. We managed to make it from one end of Vietnam to the other in two weeks. I figured out by the end of those two weeks that that kind of travel doesn’t really speak to me. We spent a good amount of time in each destination planning how to get or where to stay in the next place! In the Philippines we chose to pick two places and spend a week in each. That was way more up my alley. I never thought about it as cheaper but that’s such a great point!

  13. Jessica, your article really resonated with me because we really believe in slow travel too. The deeper connection to a place is becoming more and more important because I’ve found I get to know a place so much better when I have more time to explore. It’s definitely a cheaper way to travel but for us, as digital nomads, we’ve found we’re more productive when we “Settle down” for a few months. That way we work better and get to know a place better. It’s a win-win.

  14. I agree 100% that slow travel is the way to go. Like many, I google “how many days to stay” when planning a trip. If it says 5 days, then I’ll make it a 7-day trip just so we can go at a leisurely pace. People-watching at a cafe is just as important as bucket list events I think. 🙂

  15. Amen. Well put Jessica!

    To me, it’s also important to have as much flexibility as possible. Who knows who you will meet or what new opportunities you may discover along the way. If you have a rigid time schedule or itinerary it makes it impossible to pursue some of these unforeseen potentials.

    However, yes, any travel is better than no travel 🙂

  16. Backpack Babe

    Literally couldn’t agree with this more!!!

    Slow travel let’s you truly experience the place, people, culture and food. We are too hurried running around anyways, time to enjoy the ride. And it definitely cheaper too 🙂

  17. Great advice! We had to learn this lesson for ourselves. We did the whole country of Vietnam in three weeks when we had a three month visa… Regrets!

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