I used to travel with a set itinerary, full to the brim with places I need to see and things I need to do. It was quite exhausting. I came back more tired than before. I’ve seen a lot but remembered less. Left with a lot of photos but not memorable experiences. Time is a precious commodity for most of us so I do get the rush. The feeling of wanting to cram everything in the limited vacation time. Being back in the corporate world, I can now only mostly travel during weekends. And that’s why I really want to experience slow travel again.
Why try slow travel?
Here are some of the reasons why slow travel can be better.
Quality vs quantity
It’s not how many countries you managed to see in a few days, or how many passport stamps you’ve collected, or how many tourist spots you’ve seen. It’s more about the quality of experience you’ve had in that place. And good things take time.
With slow travel, less is definitely more. So take your time to savor a place and immerse yourself in that country’s culture. Take the time to relax and recharge. Take the time to enjoy.
Remember, traveling is not a competition. Not unless you’re a contestant in a race, don’t make it like one.
Slow travel allows you to experience a place by gaining a deeper appreciation and understanding of it. It’s about seeing a country or a place in depth. Making memorable experiences and not just visiting. And also please do yourself a service and don’t travel just for the sake of having to post something on social media.
Connecting with people is something that you can’t do when you’re going to and fro with a whirlwind itinerary. You’ll see that no matter how we look different, we are also the same.
Most of my memorable travel experiences involve people. And being an introvert, connecting with people is sometimes challenging for me. There will be times when I don’t like talking to people. And that’s okay. Because I make up for it during the times when I have the energy for it. Connecting can be simple as asking a local for directions or where they like to eat. It can also be by volunteering with a local community. Or even meetups through social networking sites like FB groups or Couchsurfing meetups.
Instead of staying in hostels or hotels, try staying in homestays. Or try renting an apartment, room or house so you’ll know what’s it like to live in that country. You can also try Housesitting or Couchsurfing.
You can even travel your way through food since food is a big part of a nation’s heritage and soul. Eat where the locals eat or explore the local markets.
Get rid of your #FOMO
“What if I miss out on a popular place?”
Accept the fact that you’re not going to be able to see everything. And once you’ve accepted that fact, your mindset will shift. Don’t be afraid of not seeing all the tourist spots. Even the most traveled person hasn’t seen everything.
Instead of taking the taxi, why not take the local transportation like buses or trains. Or if you want to take it further, walk a lot. Or even wander aimlessly. This allows you to see more while also having the opportunity to connect with locals.
I walk a lot during my travels. This gives me glimpses into their daily lives and gives me the opportunity to discover more.
Slow travel opens you up for the unknown
“What if I get bored?”
Do away with the guidebooks and the packed itinerary. Instead, be flexible and adaptable. Sometimes going with the flow or sometimes going out with a rough plan. Be not afraid of messing up your plans and changing your mind mid-way. Don’t be afraid to get lost along the way.
Allow yourself to be open for the unknown. For the unexpected. For the good, the bad, and ugly of traveling. Fall in love. Meet new friends. Feel uncomfortable. Experience being scammed. Get sick. Conquer your fears. Get out of your comfort zone. Most of these things you don’t get to experience when you travel at breakneck speeds.
Slow travel is not the only way to travel. And you don’t need to be a full-time traveler to experience it. Heck, there are no guidelines to slow travel. But it starts with a mindset – of spending more time and creating more fulfilling experiences in one place.
So only if you’re not following Leave No Trace principles or committing crimes against humanity, I say go travel as you want and as you see fit. All I’m asking you, aside from being a responsible traveler, is to give slow travel a chance. Try it even just once in your life.
I know for some it may be hard to achieve, but then again, we make time for things we truly want. If you were to ask me two years ago, I would have never even thought that traveling for two months alone in Southeast Asia was possible for me. You actually don’t need to go far to try it. Try somewhere within your country.
So go ahead, plan and research the bare necessities and travel for at least a week in one place. Better if it’s more. Travel slowly, travel deeper. Who knows, I might even change your mind about slow travel. 😉
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Have you tried slow travel? What do you think?