The Art Of Snail Travel: 5 Reasons To Take Your Sweet Time

Nick Wharton Author Bio Picture

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

Traveling slower is a trend that’s gaining popularity for good reason. When you slow down your travel, you can immerse yourself in the local culture, engage with the locals, and appreciate the natural beauty of your destination. Here are some reasons why you should consider slowing down on your next trip:

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.

Spend More Time, Save More Money.
Spend More Time, Save More Money.

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.

We were invited to this Indian wedding because we stayed in that town for 3 weeks.
We were invited to this Indian wedding because we stayed in that town for 3 weeks.

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?

The Art Of Snail Travel- 5 Reasons To Take Your Sweet Time

Nick Wharton Author Bio Picture

Written by

Nick Wharton

Nick is the co-founder, editor and author of Goats On The Road. He contributes to numerous other media sites regularly and shares his expert knowledge of travel, online entrepreneurship and blogging with the world whenever he can. He has been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and has more than 10 years of experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship.

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28 thoughts on “The Art Of Snail Travel: 5 Reasons To Take Your Sweet Time”

  1. I’m two weeks into my long-term travels (currently in China) and I’m battling this right now! I’m restricted by my 30 day visa here but I’m trying to remember that this isn’t a vacation but a new lifestyle. And if I need to take a few days to recoup and relax and just walk around this city (or even just stay in and watch a movie) that’s okay! I’m sure I’ll get the hang of traveling slower as time goes on. It’s still all relatively new and I’m still getting the hang of it.

  2. This is so true! When I am on presstrips they always hurry you along all the sights, restaurants etc. But when I travel by myself of with my husband, I always take it slow. It’s just the best. So what if we tick all the boxes, we are able to see some things other people haven’t because we interacted with the locals and they showed us the hidden gems. Wonderful.

  3. This is spot on. As a travel consultant that specializes in around-the-world, multi-stop travel, it is a struggle to try and get my clients to sllllooooow down. Many people who haven’t traveled extensively start off with a long list of destinations and the assumption that 2-3 days in a city, qualifies as “knowing” a country. It is hard for them to truly understand the physical toll that traveling quickly can take on your body. Flying durations, different time zones and all of the hassle of getting to and from airports, through customs, etc. can wipe out your energy. It is much better (in my opinion!) to spend longer chunks of time in a single country, so that you can really explore different cities and have a deeper understanding of the culture. My motto is always “less is more”.

  4. Hi Nick and Dariece,

    Kelli and I do 1 month minimum in most spots, and here in Fiji we’re doing 4 months. Long term travel suits us because we experience more by doing less. Another mind-twister 😉

    Love your take on things. Here and there we do day trips through towns. The 2nd month of our Cambodia trip was hitting every main spot outside of the capital. It’s OK, but making friends with folks, getting a feel for a location, saving money, and experiencing more works for me, because I’m traveling for the full experience, not to say that I’ve been somewhere.

    I saw a cruise ship of 3000 folks off load 3000 tourists in Savusavu last week. The town was overrun with people who were in a rush to do as much as possible in a 6 hour window. By late afternoon, they were off again, hustling and bustling to the next spot, almost like a job.

    Meanwhile, Kelli and I were cruising along a quiet jungle road by the bat as we watched the ship leave the harbor. I love soaking up my walks to and from town. Each day I’m blessed with 90 minute’s worth of walking on 1 of the most pristine island’s on God’s green earth – yep, Vanua Levu REALLY is! – and it’s all because Kelli and I chose to do the long term, slow travel bit, 3 years ago, when we started prospering online.

    Folks, slow down, and you’ll experience infinitely more than versus if you’re rushing through an area. Travel by all means, but if you can at least stay in 1 spot for a month, here and there, it’ll warm your heart and change you forever.

    Vanaka guys! Appreciate the smart post.

    I’ll tweet it in a bit.

    Signing off from Savusavu, Fiji.


  5. I’ve been slowing down significantly in the last few years … staying in a place for weeks rather than days is the difference between marinating a steak and not.

  6. I totally agree with everything you say. I’m currently travelling long-term for the second time. The first time I travelled much faster and I really have to say that I love the slower way of travelling much more. not only because it’s less exhausting but also as you absolutely get to know the places better and you really meet people. Great post!

  7. I used to be the type of traveler that blitzed through cities in an effort to see everything. But I agree that this way of travel is exhausting and expensive. I make an effort to stay in cities for a week or two at minimum. And, whenever possible, I rent an apartment for an entire month. Not only does this help save on money but I feel like I can really get to know a place. If you’ve got the time, snail travel is definitely the way to go!

  8. All great points! And an even better poem 😀
    I totally advocate slow and thoughtful travel, though we don’t always have the privilege of time, and when time’s not on my side, I do tend to cram in a lot in a day.
    Later when an opportunity to return to a once-visited country comes up I can then always choose to slow travel in a place I choose from all the ones I hit and run on those time-crunched trips.

  9. One of the most frustrating things while travelling is getting somewhere, and finding out that there is some amazing festival happening the next week, but having already planned to leave within a few days. While money and time doesn’t always permit it, I travel slowly wherever I can – so many advantages.

  10. Hi Emily!
    We definitely know the feeling. During our first year-long trip, we felt guilty for staying in bed for the day, or having a movie night rather than being out. But really if you think about it, it’s not normal…and it’s totally exhausting…to be doing something all day, every day! You for sure need some down time once in a while, you’ll get the hang of it 😉


  11. Exactly! Press trips are great, but you definitely are rushed around. We too prefer to not worry about ticking boxes and just see what we see, when we see it 🙂 By not having a plan, you actually end up seeing more and meeting some awesome people.

    Thanks for commenting!

  12. We couldn’t agree more Sarah! It’s great that you try to get your clients to slooowww down, something that most people don’t want to do when they’re travelling. “I have 2 weeks off, I want to see 6 countries”. Really, they won’t end up seeing much at all! You’re right about the fact that travelling can be draining. It’s time we all chilled out 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

  13. You and Kelli definitely have the right idea! That’s so funny that you see the cruise ships coming in too. We see about 2 a week in the high-season here in Grenada. The massive boat pulls up, hoards of people descend on the most popular beach and then after a few hours, they’re gone. Meanwhile, Nick and I have spent the day enjoying our secret beaches that these tourists wouldn’t know about – because they whizzed through 😉

    People need to slow down, even if that means only seeing one country on their 2-4 week holiday. We really believe that this is a more relaxing and memorable way to travel.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  14. Glad to hear you changed your way of travel Stef! It can be hard to make the decision to slow down because there are “so many things to see”, but really, it’s more satisfying to stay in one city for a week or so and really get to know the area and the people.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  15. Glad you enjoyed the poem 😉 haha.

    It’s true, not everyone has loads of time on their hands when it comes to travel, but I still say to only see a sight or two in a day, then spend the rest of the day wandering aimlessly, getting lost in back alleyways or just sitting at a cafe and watch people go by!

    Enjoy your travels 🙂

  16. I totally agree with this. We recently spent 8 weeks in Europe. 1 week in London, 3 weeks in Berlin, and 4 weeks in Paris. People thought we were crazy to only see European cities in 8 weeks. But we were able to continue our online business and homeschool. Also, adding extra connections for 5-6 people can really add up. It was cheaper to only move between 3 cities.

  17. Hi Guy’s

    My first time here from Ryan’s Blog, actually I’m his developer. Some awesome tips guys! I recently took a 2 night stay in London as I love the place, but you are soo right about spending time! The great thing about London though is the Oyster cards that let you use the busses, tube and the catamarans on the Thames for about £8 a day which i highly recommend should you visit here.

    Another place that I onsider paradise is Herm Island (check out as the only vehicles on the island is lots of bikes and 2 tractors, I highy recomend it guys! anyway i just wanted to swing by and say hello!
    Happy Trails.

    – PD

  18. Hi Amanda!

    Wow, it’s rare that we hear about people travelling as slow as we would! haha. Three European cities in 8 weeks, you must have really enjoyed being able to go slow, get some work done, relax and really take in all that the cities offer. Did you rent apartments, or stay in hotels?

    Thanks for sharing with us, we think 3 cities in 8 weeks is great 🙂

  19. Hey Phillip!

    Thanks so much for stopping by from our interview over at Ryan’s site 🙂 It’s great to hear from new readers!

    Thanks for the tip about Herm Island, I’ve never even heard of it before? It sounds very quiet and interesting. The Oyster card is the way to go in London for sure. The cost of travel there can really add up! We’ve never taken a catamaran on the Thames before but will have to next time we’re in London!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers from Grenada!

  20. Exactly! I totally agree with all these point! And even more: probably I should call my travel style Super Snail or Extra Slow, or something like that: I have spent one year here, another half year there as a volunteer, years in another country for family reasons, or just one month here and another 3 months there…
    Sometimes I would do short, action-packed trips, which are entirely different experiences and give me a terrific kick and I keep them forever as moments to remember: that’s normally only when I get a gig somewhere (I am a singer).

    That being said, now I am also considering to accept longer term gigs: a few months in a hotel or on a cruise or such.

    My philosophy about the pace of traveling is that if I anyway live on the road and out of a suitcase, then why not LIVE?

  21. I totally get the benefits of slow travel. I travel fast and i know how exhausting it gets. That said, I only have 2 weeks in Europe every couple of years- and I simply must satisfy my curiosity to see as many places as i can. I wish I had months at a time at a destination, but at the moment it is just not possible. So i take my time with local weekend travel- (where I live) this is where i can take it slow- one activity a weekend.

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