What is more frustrating than realizing we don’t have enough time to travel, to go somewhere else, to enjoy a little bit more the instant we just lived? How many discussions in the forums “see all Japan in 10 days” or 15 days in China, is it sufficient” and people taking the risks of spending their holidays in planes, trains, or buses. If lack of time to travel is one of the biggest issue a traveler has to face, slow travel is the concept to take the time while on our trip, even if it involves staying in only one place or a precise city if we lack of time.
Time, X factor
Generally speaking, the concept of slow travel is more adapted to long trips, several months or a year, sabbatical or long break. But it can also be the case for shorter lengths. Indeed, even if you only have one week or 10 days, you can still visit a region or a city in each and every nook without seeing the rest of the country. Same thing as life, all comes down to choices. Personally I often do the mistake of running when I don’t have much time in order to see as much as possible with the time I have. Of course it is a stupidity as you don’t tick a box and “make” a destination but you have to enjoy and live it. Focus on the atmosphere, the mood, the culture and go off beaten tracks. Don’t stay in the easy pathway made for tourists. It is totally fine to get lost and discover things randomly. Travel is also meeting the unexpected, unlike your daily life at home with your work and your friends. And on the contrary of our rushing life that we experience every day, with no time for anything, travelling slowly and adapt to the local pace can be awesome and very appreciable. Follow the example of Fijians! “Fiji time” as they say, everything very slow, anyone always late…but who care?
Time is a luxury that one has to enjoy while on travel!
And it is also good to rediscover with a fresh eye what is really close to you: There is a wonderful touristic potential in France and in Europe for example. Just going a few days in the countryside, leaving the city is a huge breath of fresh air. Go and drive along the French roads, explore the villages, taste the local specialties and discover the historic hidden gems. You won’t regret it.
Don’t plan everything
Sometimes, even if it is easier to say so than doing it actually, it is good not to plan but just follow the events or people you will meet! Of course don’t do that for everything 🙂 Book you hotels if you go there on a peak season, don’t follow dodgy fellows at night time…but definitely majority of people are here to help and learn from you so try to enjoy these new experiences! It is very different from our everyday life where everything is calculated and timed precisely. It is very refreshing and being leaded by the travel and the unexpected is also freedom! And that is something we look for when we travel. As the saying goes, when nothing is planned, everything is still possible! But again, it is good to plan a minimum the big stages of your trip, your hotels and where the “risky” places are located. So be careful enough, and bear in mind the unexpected parties with a few of your best friends are very often much more fun than New Years Eve with many people you have poor connections with. It is exactly the same thing when it comes to travelling.
Travel means also adventures and unforecast events!
So don’t travel like robots! Many big groups come and take pictures of relevant monuments or sites (like the ones in Paris, Angkor, or Kyoto temples), most of the time the groups of Chinese, a lot everywhere! Choose carefully where you are going. Even if you go a bit further, off the beaten tracks, you can always find much less visited sites than the big ones, everything is a question of time once again! Either do the “unmissable” places according to tourist books very early in the morning to skip the groups or spend the minimum time to see the surroundings before heading to other more interesting and less crowded sites: For example, there are hundreds of temples in Angkor, in Egypt or Kyoto, the most popular ones are not always the most beautiful ones as the crowd impacts hugely the pleasure you have when you visit them. This is also the spirit of slow travel: be adapting and flexible and go to places the other ones will not think about. Just drop off you tourist book sometimes!
Benefits of slow travel
First of all, going on a long trip abroad (for example a world trip) allows to have more benefits using this kind of travel than you only have a few days or a couple of weeks. Indeed, we you know you have plenty of time for the next months permits to manage our pace of visits and our effort, as well as managing a (tight) budget! But as said earlier, even with shorter periods, you always have the possibility to focus on a specific city or region and not rush to go anywhere else. Feel the place and the people, immerse yourself in the atmosphere. You can see, smell, hear, touch, taste as much as you want! Travelling is not only “seeing” but it is a whole exotic experience, disconnecting you from you daily environment, but I guess that why also, as much as me, love travelling! And taking our time, chatting with people around a cup of coffee, sitting at a restaurant just looking around people walking in front of you, looking at the ocean and dreaming about thousand things, in other words not doing anything is definitely something we don’t do enough! Other benefits of the slow travel below:
- Cheaper: Indeed, you can take local public transport instead of plane of you focus on a specific region without taking another transport to go somewhere else.
- More sustainable and responsible tourism. Don’t lie to ourselves, even we want to consider ourselves as “travellers”, we are still tourists according to local people. But if you do the effort of meeting them, talk to them and learn from them, you realize quicker the challenges the country has to face and the sustainable development, between economic growth and protection of the human beings and the environment, can be tricky sometimes. Don’t look for stupid “eco-tourists” agencies in many times, build your sustainable travel by yourself and learn lessons you will remember once coming back home.
- More freedom: As explained earlier, the less things you plan, the more things are open for you. So plan the basics (place tickets, first hotels, dangerous places not to go…) but leave some place for the unexpected. For example, if you do a world trip, do you choose to book your plane ticjets in advance with world trip tickets with agencies or you book them from time to time during your travel?
Travelling slowly, you will be able to immerse yourself in the country and discover its actual culture, not the one you can see with your first feelings of a traveler. A destination doesn’t have to be “made” but has to be experimented and lived deeply. You will see that globalization doesn’t erase everything and hopefully the regional cultures remain strong. Don’t be reluctant to talk to people (the local ones, not the ones in the touristic industry of course), go off the beaten tracks and follow your intuitions at a precise moment. If having this mind is more easier when you go for long-period of travelling (several months at least), you can also have it if we choose to stay focused on a specific perimeter if you have a shorter break.