Over the past few years, I’ve realized the importance of slow travel. I didn’t always put much thought into slowing down my pace though. I will admit, I am a bit of a list ticker. It’s not my main motivation for traveling, but sometimes it’s fun to make a little game out of travel. Unfortunately I’ve taken a few trips where I let the list ticking get the better of me, and I definitely traveled too quickly. How’s Hong Kong, Macau, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Perth, Ayers Rock, Cairns, and Sydney in the span of two weeks? I know, insane. But at least it taught me the value of slow travel.
Travel slow, don’t rush
I mentioned earlier that Andy and I have been talking a lot about our future, and much of that discussion involves our travel plans. As avid travelers, we want to see a lot of this wonderful world. But we don’t want to rush through it. By slowing down, we’ll get to see more of a place, which is more meaningful than just seeing more places. This means planning our trips to allow for plenty of time in each stop.
We probably won’t be able to completely eliminate short stays. I probably won’t completely squash my list ticking game. But we’re going to put more thought and effort into slowing down, even if it means we don’t get to see everything.
Slow travel allows for more interaction with locals
I like interacting with locals when I travel. Last August we spent four days in Barcelona. That’s not a lot of time, but we had a different approach to that trip. Instead of eating every meal in a restaurant, we found a local grocery store and market and bought food there. I remember buying meatballs from a deli counter and seeing the woman’s face light up that I wanted them. It was tiny, but that glimpse of local culture sticks in my head.
Slowing down and staying in one place longer also means you can become a regular, if only for a little while. A couple years ago, we went to the same ice cream shop in Valencia several days in a row and joked around with the guy behind the counter. When we skipped a day, he noticed. Even in Barcelona last summer, we went to a cafe for drinks, sat at the bar and talked to the waitress all night. It felt nice to know her a little when we returned the next night.
Those experiences mean a lot more to me than seeing a famous statue or building. I still enjoy seeing those things, and I will continue to seek them out, but it needs to be balanced with local experiences as well.
We love apartment stays
Andy and I have had a lot of great experiences renting apartments on our travels. Apartments tend to be in residential areas and a little further from the touristy sections, which makes interacting with locals a lot easier. We never would’ve found the deli lady with the meatballs or the ice cream shop if we were staying in the touristy part of town.
Apartments are also great because we have more room. It’s so much more comfortable and relaxing when we’re not confined to one room that’s barely big enough for the bed. Plus with a kitchen, we can cook a few meals or at least have a few snacks and drinks on hand. It’s a small way to combine the feeling of home with travel.
I’ve mentioned a few times that Andy hates flying. While I’m very happy that he’s able to get on a plane now, it’s still not something he’s comfortable with, and after the bad flight we had in Turkey, I don’t blame him.
I love Andy, but being on a plane with him requires a lot of energy from me and stresses me out tons too. Flying just isn’t a good situation for either of us. So we’ve decided that minimizing the amount of air travel we do is the best option. We won’t eliminate it entirely because sometimes it’s the only practical way to get from one place to another. But if there’s a reasonable alternative on a train, bus, boat, whatever, we’ll probably choose that over an airplane.
Traveling on a slower mode of transportation usually means great opportunities to watch the landscape go by. I especially love train travel for that reason. I love seeing the scenery change as we get further from where we started and closer to our destination.
I see lots of changes in the way we travel. In addition to focusing on experiences over stuff, we’re also going to slow down our pace, seeing fewer destinations for longer periods of time so we can get to know those places a little better. We enjoy interacting with locals. We’re most comfortable staying in apartments, especially for longer trips. I also see a lot more train travel in our future. There are so many benefits to slow travel, and we’re making our upcoming travel plans based around this idea. You can see a lot more of the world if you just slow down a little.