Benefits of Slow Travel

As I mature (which is a nice way to say, get older), my approach to travelling is changing.  In my early 20’s, I had a checklist of places to visit.  Before the term bucket list was coined and the creation of Pinterest, I literally had a world map on my wall that I would stick a push-pin into after visiting each city.

Weekend in Stirling, Scotland Spring 2001
Weekend in Stirling, Scotland Spring 2001

I had a magnificent job that sent me to work in the United Kingdom for almost a year, twice!  Travel was forever changed for me.  Sure, I used London as my home base to travel Europe on the weekends, but the push-pin strategy never satisfied my wanderlust.  I collected many pins, but it was not enough.

Even a few days in a city is only long enough for me to decide what I need to do and see on my next visit, and discover the hidden gems from locals. My first visit to Paris was a mere 3 days, barely enough time to see the top 5 tourist attractions (Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Louve, Notre Dame, and Champs Elysees) and very little else (and there is so much more to see).  I felt rushed.  I felt like a tacky American tourist – maybe, because I was.

Mardi Gras week long celebrations with my Sister 1999
Mardi Gras week with my Sister 1999

After a few more hurried trips, I realized that break-neck speed of travel is exhausting.  I do not want to spend more time in transit than exploring.  In the last decade, I started to slow down, put down the guide book, and talk to the locals.   Simple curiosity and a good attitude have resulted in invitations to private country estates, weekends in sleepy little villages, multiple wedding receptions around the world, cheering with the fans for local amateur sports teams, and so much more off the beaten path activities.  I am simply not satisfied by sheer number of cities visited, I want to connect and savor the destination.

Horse ride in Banff, Canada
Horse ride in Banff, Canada

Granted, slow travel is a luxury.  Not everyone can spend weeks at a vacation destination.  10 days in Cancun enabled me to complete my Scuba certification start to finish, with a couple extra dives at the end.  Weekend trips are focused on a few activities at a destination, and almost always followed up with a longer visit to see more.

VRBOThere can be some real cost savings to slow travel.  Renting a house (VRBO) for a week or more can be significantly less expensive than comparable hotel for the same time frame.  Better deals for week (or more) car rentals than a few days.  I attempt to be frugal in my own way, where I get the best value for as close to luxury as I can manage.  I like First Class air travel and 5 star luxury resorts, and those are more obtainable for a few cross country or international flights a year.  Short deliberate “hops” are easier physically and financially within the Caribbean (or any concentrated area of travel focus).

Slow travel allows me to prioritize events and activates based on my research, then plan without the constraints of a defined itinerary.  After speaking to locals, or discovering a new treasure, we can easily move on a new plan, in a constant fluid motion of travel.  Flexibility is a wonderful luxury for me when travelling, adapting to weather and whim without stress that we missed out on a planned activity.

2014 Cancun for 2 weeks
2014 Cancun for 2 weeks

The best part about slow travel is feeling rejuvenated.  I am actually rested throughout my travels and ready to attack the next challenge, free from travel fatigue and exhaustion of hurried travel.

Try it!  Slow down and savor the richness of your destination.

7 thoughts on “Benefits of Slow Travel”

  1. I love that you posted this because incidentally, slow travel was the topic I featured on this week’s Mega Marketing Monday! (:

    I’m a huge fan of slow travel as well, even though I know it can’t really be done all the time. But I believe we can promote it and convince more people that even done in little ways, slow travel can be very rewarding (:

  2. I love slow travel! I recently went to Hawaii with a fairly packed schedule and ended up doing none of it because I wanted to take it easy and discover at my own pace. It was the best choice I made!

  3. I think it is all about balance. Taking time to smell the roses is wonderful, but sometimes you only have a short amount of time available. If you travel part time, I can understand the rush to want to see it all. I know a lot of people who only had the chance (and most likely their only chance ever) to travel to Europe. I understand that they chose one of the “15 countries in 9 days kinda tours”. It just always depends on your situation. If you are lucky to live an nomadic lifestyle, traveling slow is awesome though!

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