Are you an active person? Love to see as much as you can in a short period of time? That’s great. But have you ever tried slowing down your travel style to see more? That’s right, if you slow down, smell the roses and take your sweet time, you’ll actually see so much more of a country than if you blast through it, hopping from one famous site to the next.
There is no right or wrong way of travelling.
We’ve travelled fast and we’ve travelled slow,
We’ve travelled high and we’ve travelled low,
We’ve even got our own travel show,
But there’s one thing that all travellers should know,
It doesn’t matter… as long as you go.
– Goats On The Road
We get hundreds of emails from readers planning their trips and we love to help people make the most of their adventures, but the most common change we suggest in their travel plans is the speed at which they’re travelling. We used to travel fast. Every 3 to 5 days we were packing up and moving to the next place, but as soon as we slowed down and started staying in places for 5, 10 or 30 days, our experiences became infinitely better.
It is true that there’s no wrong way to travel, but we highly recommend taking your sweet time. Now we’d like to share the art of snail travel with you.
Here are 5 reasons you should travel slower:
1. You Won’t Get Exhausted
Travelling is tiring business and it can even be stressful at times. When you’re a backpacker or a long-term traveller, each destination you visit is a little home and even if you only lay down roots for a few days, you still lose a piece of yourself there when you leave. BBC says that moving homes is one of life’s most stressful events, and while travelling from place to place doesn’t compare to packing up your house and relocating, it can be exhausting. You need to find a ride to the bus station or airport, pay for your transport, haggle the price, try to find your way around and then do it all over again when you arrive on the other side. Stay in one place, unpack and relax.
Travel is all about freeing your life from stress and worry, and this is a good way to do it.
2. You’ll Make Better Connections With People
For us, meeting new people and creating friendships with locals and other travellers is a major highlight of the travelling lifestyle. But if you’re hopping from place to place, your goodbyes will be too frequent to form any real lasting relationships with the people you meet. You’ll definitely make a few five-minute friendships along the way, and that’s great, but if you can make some 5-day friendships by travelling slower, then it’s definitely worth it.
3. You’ll See More!
Readers often don’t believe us when we say this, but if you travel slower, you’ll see so much more.
Think about it for a second, you want to visit 4 countries in 1 month and each country is large with dozens of sites that you just “must see”. This means that you’ll be in each country for just a week, but remember, at the start of your trip you flew in from overseas so you’ll likely have jet lag for a couple of days. Then, after each town, village and city you visit, you’ll have to plan your transportation to the next destination. The bus ride can take a full day and when you arrive you’ll only have an afternoon to see the things you want, and then you’re off on a bus the next day.
Sounds tiring to me!
On this type of trip, you’re seeing the inside of a bus and your favourite destination is out the window (pun intended). Consider staying in each town for a week or more and see all of the things in that area. Day trip to small, nearby towns and get to know some local vendors, shop owners and friends in the town. We once spent 2 weeks in a tiny village of Valladolid in Mexico and we were busy every day with new friends and fun activities. Trust us, go slow and you’ll see more.
4. You’ll Save Money
If you’ve ever spent any time on the road, you’ll know that travel is the most expensive part of travelling. The cost of buses, trains, flights, taxis, tuk-tuks and rickshaws all add up and you’ll start to see your wallet getting thinner the more you move around. The effect isn’t as bad in places like Southeast Asia and Central America where you can hop on chicken buses for just a few dollars, but in places like Europe, South America, Central Asia and North America, you’ll start to see those costs rising quickly.
No matter where you are, staying put is cheaper. Consider renting an apartment for a month, or house sitting and really see how the savings can add up. Shop at the local market, cook for yourself and find the best discounts, this is how you can really save some money while enriching your travel experience.
5. You Can Take Time To Learn Language & Local Culture
We’re all guilty of blazing through some countries and never really learning enough about the people, the language, or the local way of life. This is not a mistake or a fault, it’s an inevitability of the long-term traveller’s lifestyle. But if you can try to take things slower, you’ll learn more about the culture and your chances of being invited into a home or to a special event will grow drastically.
Spend a few weeks in one place learning a language. You don’t need to be fluent! Just knowing a couple of key sentences can make a world of difference when trying to make a friend in a new country. We’ve learned small amounts of Chinese, Bahasa Indonesian, Arabic, Thai and Laotian and our experiences in those countries were MUCH better for it.
Still Not Convinced?
We don’t expect you to just take our word for it, but we hope you’ll give slow travel a try. Take one destination off of your itinerary and spend twice as long in another. We guarantee that an amazing experience will happen that you would have otherwise missed out on. Snail travel is an art and just like painting, it takes discipline. One too many strokes and you can ruin the perfect canvas you had already drawn up in your mind. Give it a try. Slow down, smell the roses and enjoy. That’s what travel is all about.
What’s your travel style? Do you blaze through countries, or take your sweet time?