SLOW TRAVEL IS ABOUT TAKING YOUR TIME AND FOCUSING ON CONNECTING WITH LOCAL PEOPLE, CULTURES, AND LANDSCAPES. HERE ARE A FEW SIMPLE TIPS ON HOW TO BECOME A SLOW TRAVELER.
When you plan to focus on slow travel instead of the more common faster form of traveling (5-day vacations, long weekend adventures) it is important to take into account not only how the travel itself is different, but also the various requirements and more extensive planning process needed.
Slow travel means taking your time and staying in one place longer. Therefore, it is very important to not only know what the place you are looking to spend months in is like, but also whether it has all of the amenities you might need (strong community, fast internet, plenty of tasty restaurants, etc.).
While slow travel is obviously our favorite style of travel, we will also be the first ones to say that it is not always easy. Just like any form of travel comes with its own set challenges, slow travel itself presents many that you wouldn’t always expect. Hopefully, these tips will help you enjoy your travels more and help you realize that when it comes to travel, going slow is the way to go.
TOP TIPS FOR SLOW TRAVELING
1 | Know What Type of Place Makes You Happy
One of the first things you should do when planning to slow travel is figure out exactly what type of landscape you need to be happy. For some people, that might mean basing themselves in a big city so there is easy access to restaurants and bars, or it could mean basing yourself in a mountain town in the winter if your main goal is to ski a lot.
If you are planning to base yourself somewhere for a long amount of time you definitely want to make sure you are somewhere you like. We have made the mistake of not doing enough research on the place we were planning to live before actually moving there, and let us tell you it was much (much) harder to actually work and enjoy life when we hated where we were. So definitely take the time to figure out what you need out of a location and then do your research to find a spot that checks all the boxes.
2 | Get Accommodation for At Least One Month
One of the biggest perks of slow traveling is being able to spend a long period of time in one specific spot. While you can move around in a city, we instead recommend finding one apartment, home, etc. that you live in for the entire time (or at least for a month).
We suggest this route because it really does take a while to fully get to know one area. In a couple of days or even a week, you still will not have a good idea of the goings-on of the neighborhood, like where the best café is, the best bakery, who the lady that walks the cute dog is, etc. Slow travel is all about connecting with your surroundings, so make sure to base yourself in one specific spot to make that so much easier. Plus, this is often how you will connect with the locals.
One great way to find a spot for a month (at least) is through Airbnb. Nowadays it is even easier to find an apartment or home for a monthly stay, and usually, it is much cheaper to rent per month than per day.
3 | Find Your Own Transportation
This is another thing we learned very quickly when slow traveling: you need your own set of wheels. This is because when you are planning to spend a good amount of time in one place you aren’t always going to be going on tours to see nearby spots (at least we hope not). And, likely, after a while, you will also be wanting your own freedom and independence to explore various places (and not always rely on other people to get you there).
Your own set of wheels could mean a car, or in many places it will more likely mean a moped or motorcycle (like in Southeast Asia for example). Having your own set of wheels could also mean just having your own personal bicycle - which allows you to explore and access places farther away than you could get to just on foot. Plus, biking is a great form of exercise.
When you don’t have to rely on tours, public transportation (which don’t get us wrong we love) or taxis, the world really opens up to you. If you have your own form of transportation you can reach areas that you otherwise couldn’t and see places on your own time and on your own schedule.
4 | Plan Your Weekend Adventures
Now, we are not saying you need to plan every adventure or every place you want to go. But, we are suggesting that if you have some form of a list of things you want to do, again after doing a bit of research, you have a better idea of what your weekends look like and how much stuff is going to cost.
When we first landed in Cartagena, Colombia we really didn’t have an idea of what kind of adventures we wanted to do in the city. So come our first weekend we were totally unprepared and therefore ended up going on a tour (which we did not like) one day and just walking around aimlessly the next. So learn from our mistake and instead come up with a rough idea of what you want to do during the month (or more) you are planning to be somewhere, how to actually do it (do you need transportation?) and what it will likely cost.
5 | Find and/or Create a Community
Commonly, one of the hardest things about slow travel, and traveling in general, is finding a community. It is really easy to travel somewhere for a short amount of time (like 4-5 days) and not feel the need to make friends or find other like-minded people because you know you won’t be there long. But when you are planning to spend a couple of weeks or months in a place, the desire to make friends and build a community becomes hugely important.
But how do you find friends?
We found it quite difficult to make friends in various countries, especially when there was a language barrier. Because let’s be real, finding friends even in your own home country can be a challenge. Oftentimes, your friends come about from interacting through a common occurrence. This might mean they are a coworker, or you play on the same soccer team, or you went to school with them.
So we suggest doing something similar when traveling. Put yourself in a position to make friends by joining a club, or a sports league. Or consider volunteering with an organization or group that you care about. It can be really tough to just make a friend randomly walking down the street, so instead take steps to create friendships through some form of interaction, especially through some interaction that you are genuinely passionate about.
6 | Find and Follow Your Passions
You could also call it this: find your purpose for traveling to a place.
When you are planning to travel and live in a place for a long amount of time (month+) it can sometimes be tough to stay motivated and to keep the “hype” of travel alive. And while the goal of slow travel is to connect deeply with a place and culture, oftentimes you will get to a point where that goal just isn’t enough and you start to feel a bit sad or unmotivated. This feeling can also be amplified when you are struggling with even some of the most basic tasks (like communicating with people when there is a language barrier).
We have felt this before, and honestly, it totally sucks. You feel like you should be enjoying your life in a new and exciting place, but instead you are tired, unmotivated and a bit nostalgic for home. But through those struggles, we found that to beat those negative feelings we just needed a purpose other than just “travel.”
That purpose could be simple: you want to find the best café in whatever place you are living. Or it could be more extreme: you want to learn and get really good at windsurfing. Whatever you decide on, find a purpose that will fulfill you and make you excited for the place you are living in.
Slow travel is not only one of the best ways to experience a place, but it is also one of the more sustainable forms of travel. When you choose to slow down and dive deeper into a destination, you connect with it so much better - with the people, with the culture and with the landscapes. But while we stand behind slow travel 100%, we also know that it can sometimes be a challenge.
Hopefully, these useful tips (many of which we have learned the hard way on our own slow travel adventures) will not only help you enjoy slow travel more - but also make you want to continue to slow traveling longer.
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