Before I understood the importance of a slow travel experience, I remember that travel was a stress, because you only had so many days to see a city in, before moving onto the next place. The deadlines, the pre-booked tickets, the rushing from one famous site to another. You didn’t have time to relax and take in beautiful views off the beaten track, such as this amazing view of the Rila Mountains in Bulgaria.
That’s how I used to travel as a student, and someone working the 9-5, because time was so limiting. You had to fit your travel into the amount of days you had in your university holidays, or how many days you could get off work. Now, I like to travel deeper and have a more flexible plan.
I don’t think that travel should be a stress. Here’s why I have completely changed the way I travel…
Why I have Changed the Way that I Travel
The main reason that I have changed the way that I travel is because of my health and a longing to enjoy the moment.
Health-wise, I got diagnosed with a frontal lobe cavernoma which can cause epilepsy and anxiety. It makes me more susceptible to the stress and strains of modern life. It made me want to see and experience more, because life is valuable and limited. It also made me want to live in the moment and travel NOW!
I didn’t feel that I could enjoy travel if my travel itineraries were so strict and set in stone. I don’t want to feel rushed or stressed anymore. This is why I am now an advocate of Slow Travel.
Learning to ‘Slow Travel’ in Thailand
When I was travelling in Thailand, I absolutely adored Chiang Rai. Now, most people stay there for a couple of days. I had three days planned there but ended up staying 5! On my third day I said to my friend Elly ‘oh I wish I wasn’t going to Chiang Mai tomorrow!’ so she replied, ‘then don’t go! You don’t have to stick to your original plan, you know!’ and of course, she was right! So I did, and what a great decision!
It was a classic ‘light bulb moment!’ I was working to my strict previous schedule that I no longer had to. I didn’t have to be back for work or teaching, in fact, I didn’t have to be anywhere. But I did want to relax and enjoy travel more than it just being a check list.
How I have Changed the Way that I Travel
I am now a fan of slow travel, which is better for the mind, body and soul. This means that I can travel and work on my laptop in blogging and marketing on the road. It means that I can take it easy as I travel with flexibility.
Does it really matter if you were only supposed to spend 2 weeks in a country, but you end up spending 6? No! Does it really matter if you want to jack in the desert trek for a coastal city? Of course not. Go with the flow and enjoy what you need to, rather than ticket countries and cities off a list.
Benefits to Slow Travel
There are so many benefits to slow travel including more opportunities to taste local food, learn a new language and see destinations that are more ‘off the beaten path’ than the usual travel destination. My top benefits of slow travel…
- Learn and practice the local language (I like to use the Duolingo app on my phone)
- Check out smaller and less popular destinations that are likely to be amazing and less touristy such as Veliko Tarnavo (Bulgaria) or Guarda (Portugal).
- When you go to places that are less visited you get a more ‘local’ experience such as making wine at the local winery, fermenting cheese and weaving fabric! Authentic travel experiences.
- You feel more relaxed overall – travelling without pressure is so much more enjoyable.
- You can switch your plans around according to what people tell you on the road.
Switching it up in Morocco!
In a recent trip to Morocco, Essaouira was never initially on the schedule. However, as the heat of the Sahara desert was proving too much of a challenge, we rescheduled a few hostels to have some relief of the heat in the beautiful coastal town. I also got to see the Game of Thrones city of Astapor! I can’t imagine changing plans like that around 10 years ago. Everything was so strict with transport all pre-booked. If I hadn’t learnt how to become more flexible and travel slowly for enjoyment, I may never have seen this beautiful city…
Top Tips for a Slow Travel Experience
- Book in rest days and days for socialising with new buddies.
- If you suffer from a disability or unseen health condition such as asthma, epilepsy or anxiety, book in a few ‘healthy days’ where you can re-cooperate or visit a doctor if you need to.
- Be flexible with your plans – don’t pre-book all of your accommodation or transport online in advance.
- Check out some of the smaller ‘off the beaten path’ destinations – I love Chiang Rai (Thailand), Guarda (Portugal) and Poznan (Poland).
- If you like a place – extend it! No need to justify why!
- Find a job that you can do online if you want to be a digital nomad e.g. blogging, network marketing or social media freelancing.
- Book a one way ticket – go on, I dare you! I did this with a one way flight to Istanbul. People asked ‘What day are you coming back?’ To be able to answer ‘When I feel like it!’ was so liberating! And sometimes, you might travel back from a different city or even a different country!
Are you a fan of taking a slow travel experience? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your comments on my blog.