the case for slow travel: 7 perks of traveling slower + longer

I think those who want to travel and are able to should in any way they wish {that’s culturally conscious, obviously}. If you only have 2 weeks of vacation a year and want to use them at a luxury resort in Mexico, I think that’s great. If you go on a three-month trip around Asia with only a backpack, I think that’s great too. However, it’s no secret I believe the more time you invest in a place, the richer your overall experience ends up being.

I once had a friend who spent some time in Turkey, a dream destination of mine. He went for a quick few days and, while I wanted to pick his brain about what he’d seen and hear all about his experience, I also felt like his lackluster descriptions weren’t based on a lackluster time, but rather a lack of time.

Since many people are planning their travels for the new year, and because I have a lot of slower, elongated travels booked for 2019 myself, I thought I’d explain my reasoning for my travel-style preference. It can be super tempting to rush through somewhere— I’ve been there! This post is for all of us, myself included, to remember that slow travel is full of benefits!


KEEP READING FOR THE PERKS OF SLOWER TRAVEL


A MONTH IN ENGLAND MEANT LOTS OF BEAUTIFUL WALKS AND TAKING TIME TO ENJOY SMALLER PLEASURES

A MONTH IN ENGLAND MEANT LOTS OF BEAUTIFUL WALKS AND TAKING TIME TO ENJOY SMALLER PLEASURES

WHAT IS SLOW TRAVEL?

Slow travel is a travel philosophy/ideology/methodology/style. Putting it as simply as possible, it’s the belief that quality of travel over quantity of travel is important. This belief also means being mindful of the harmful effects of travel on the environment, learning from locals rather than Instagram, and spending extended amounts of time in a place. Going to 10 places in 2 weeks is a serious effort, and well done to those who’ve nailed it! But, it’s also not an in-depth experience, ya dig?

It kind of relates to the country counting controversy. Should we count the number of places we’ve been, or is that promoting a rat race travel culture that values landing in a destination without actually experiencing it? It’s obvious that I find slow travel best, that’s why I’m writing this post. But it’s not the only way to travel. Past Tara used to consider a few days in one place long enough, without much research and without doing her due diligence. Sure, I can say I’ve been to 42 countries {and counting}, but I’m less interested in how many countries I’ve been to and more interested in what I’ve learned, what I can share, what I’ve experienced, and how well I understand each one. Which, since I’ve started taking my time, reading about a place, putting in some prep work, and making slow travel a priority has included every destination I’ve been to.

When I hear someone’s been to 30 countries, I’m always eager to hear about their travels. But, it’s almost always 2 days here, 1 day there, 5 days here. Their tips are helpful, but they are usually the same tips any tourist would give you. There wasn’t enough time spent in the place to give off-the-beaten insight. I know, I’ve been that “blogger” who has written half-hearted guides from places I spent only a fraction of time {Hong Kong in 2016, for instance}. It never does a place justice, and we travel writers {as well as editors, companies, tourism boards, and brands} can totally tell when this is the case.

WORKING AS A BACKSTREET ACADEMY AMBASSADOR TO PROMOTE IMPACT TRAVEL BY CONNECTING WITH LOCAL GUIDES

WORKING AS A BACKSTREET ACADEMY AMBASSADOR TO PROMOTE IMPACT TRAVEL BY CONNECTING WITH LOCAL GUIDES

  1. CONNECTING WITH LOCALS

Connecting with locals is one of my favourite perks of traveling at a slower pace. Anytime I’ve lived, studied, worked, or volunteered in a place I’ve made connections with locals that have brought about beautiful, meaningful friendships.

For instance, my very best friends in the whole world are the result of long bouts of time in New Zealand. These people took me to have real “New Zealand” experiences. They opened their homes to me and made me a part of their families. I’ve spent holidays with them, tried the cuisine with them, and seen their stunning country from their perspective, all because I had the time to do more than just the tourist trail highlights.

2. KNOWING A PLACE

Too many times we see bloggers who’ve spent a grand total of 2 days someplace writing “complete” guides about the destination. But how many times have you spent two days in a city and felt knowledgable enough to instruct others on the best things to do, places to eat, and tips and tricks of an “insider”? It takes multiple trips or elongated stays in a place for me to feel like I can make a 48-hour guide to a place, and even then, a lot of my shorter travels from 2016 were made into guides that aren’t comprehensive guides I feel extra proud to publish. Ya know what I mean?

My extended time in places like Vietnam, England, and New Zealand {to name a few} make me feel comfortable giving tips and recommendations, because I feel like I’ve tried a feel array of food, accommodation, and attractions each place has to offer.

SPENDING MULTIPLE DAYS ON A RETURN TRIP TO PRAGUE TO TRY REVIEW A NEW HOSTEL + LEARN ABOUT CZECH FOLKLORE WITH EATING EUROPE

SPENDING MULTIPLE DAYS ON A RETURN TRIP TO PRAGUE TO TRY REVIEW A NEW HOSTEL + LEARN ABOUT CZECH FOLKLORE WITH EATING EUROPE

3. NO rushing

I once spent 24 hours in Tokyo. I saw very little of the city {luckily I will be returning soon} and rushed from attraction to attraction. I was hustling from place to place so quickly that I honestly feel like despite seeing things I didn’t experience the country {thus the lack of Japan posts on this blog}. I like to create a full itinerary to make the use of all the time I have in a place, but I hate feeling rushed. Being rushed leaves no time for flexibility, switching plans, or stumbling onto lesser-known treasures. It also makes the whole experience of traveling more stressful and can make you frustrated when your limited time crosses paths with a closed cafe or other obstacle. Who likes being rushed anyway?

4. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

The environmental impact of traveling in general is significant. Traveling requires the burning of petroleum, which causes air pollution. Taking it one step further, think about every flight’s waste? The plastic wrapped peanuts and cookies. The plastic that wraps your in-flight meal. Travel is also a significant contributor to global warming thanks to those lovely airplane emissions. This Responsible Travel Challenge article by my friend and fellow travel writer, Miss Filatelista, includes a fantastic breakdown of the environmental impact of travel.

I SPENT THREE WEEKS IN HOI AN, VIETNAM, WHILE WRITING FOR A STARTUP ON MY SECOND TRIP TO THE CITY + IT STILL WASN’T ENOUGH.

I SPENT THREE WEEKS IN HOI AN, VIETNAM, WHILE WRITING FOR A STARTUP ON MY SECOND TRIP TO THE CITY + IT STILL WASN’T ENOUGH.

5. GETTING THE FULL EXPERIENCE

Last year, I had booked out Nepal and Sri Lanka for September. When a tragic life event occurred, I had to change plans. In 2019, I’ve re-booked the two countries at the top of my bucket list. I’ve heard this is especially important in Sri Lanka, where a clear tourist path is being laid. If I want to have a fuller experience, I’ve been told by those who have visited previously, that I need to prep for an elongated stay. Having a shortened stay would mean making compromises on seeing all that I’d like to. I’m giving myself plenty of time to get a better understanding of the culture, customs, and landscape of the country.

Instead of rushing myself and only leaving a week or two to see the entirety of Sri Lanka, I’ve mapped out a solid chunk of time so that I can truly experience more of it as fully as possible. I don’t want to dart through the country for Instagram pictures and a brunch guide {though that’s all cool and fun enough}. I want to see the beaches, walk through the tea plantations, shop at the markets, and ride the train from Kandy to Ella. I want the full experience, and that simply isn’t possible when you have only a blip of time allotted to a place.

NO TRAIN FOR ME! TASH AND I TOOK THE LONG WAY AROUND + HIKED WITH LOCAL TOUR GUIDES + PORTERS TO BOOST THE LOCAL ECONOMY + CATCH ALL THE VIEWS ON THE INCE TRAIL

NO TRAIN FOR ME! TASH AND I TOOK THE LONG WAY AROUND + HIKED WITH LOCAL TOUR GUIDES + PORTERS TO BOOST THE LOCAL ECONOMY + CATCH ALL THE VIEWS ON THE INCE TRAIL

6. FINDING HIDDEN GEMS

The longer you spend in any place, the more time you have to “stumble”. Usually when I travel I make lists of well-researched places to go, cafes to hit up, and events to participate in. Those lists include days when certain attractions are open and closed, any tidbits to remember. If I have an ample amount of time in a destination, the “pressure” that I might feel to see and experience as much as possible is off. I am more easily able to balance seeing all the spots on my self-made itinerary, crossing everything off my list, with wiggle-room to stop in and check out hole-in-the-wall joints. These hidden gems are always the best finds and tend to be the places people want me to share most!

7. OPPORTUNITIES ARISE over time

10-months in China gave me the opportunity to break into the freelance writing world. Living in Nanjing meant I was aware of an expat publication. Reaching out to the expat publication, I immediately got asked for coffee with the editor, who then gave me a writing position. I learned the ins and outs of journalist work, writing current events articles, and publishing news stories with pressing deadlines. The entire opportunity came about because, according to the editor {and this is a quote}, “I heard your voice in your writing, you had a thirst to write, and you were ready and willing to spend time understanding Nanjing before writing about it.”

Had I not spent time in Nanjing and just passed through, the opportunity might not have been there for me. It’s the same with my writing project with Hidden Hoi An. I was only able to write for the newly-launched website because I was happy to spend a month in a town where most people only spend a few days. There are a lot of opportunities for people who are able to dedicate time.

47571558_2473892952625005_6801353954740404224_n.jpg

Again, travel is a wonderful privilege to have, and any way that you can {responsibly} see the world is worth celebrating! I am always happy to see people making the most of whatever resources they have to travel in whatever way {again, that’s responsible} they can. But, on your next trip, consider spending more time wherever you’re going. I’ve never regretted spending more time in a place, but I have regretted darting through it.


LIKED THIS POST? PIN IT!

sillylittlekiwi.com (1).png