It’s become too common to see travelers on Instagram, hopping from destination to destination at lightning speed, ticking off countries from their bucket lists like they’re collecting trophies. In a time when people have become obsessed with scratching another country or state off their map, there’s a need for travelers to re-evaluate their reason for traveling in the first place. If it’s just to check a city off a list or add a square to a photo grid on social media, they’re missing out on truly experiencing a city, talking to locals, and learning about a culture different from their own.
Slow travel is the solution. Slow traveling encourages travelers to stay in a destination longer, traveling overland at a leisurely pace. In choosing to slow down and experience one country or city for a more extended period, there are eight benefits for the traveler, the planet, and the locals in these destinations.
8 You’ll Save Money
The first and most apparent benefit of slow travel over a whirlwind trip is the ability to save money. When a traveler attempts to visit three major cities across Europe each week of a two-week trip, they are racking up costs quickly because each time they move to a new town, they must pay for transportation to and from the train station or airport, a plane or train ticket to the new destination, and they must pay for accommodation at their final destination.
When you’re only staying somewhere for one or two nights, it’s typical to pay full price for the room; this is especially true for Airbnb, where quick turnaround times mean the host needs to charge more to cover cleaning costs. For the same reason, choosing slow travel and long-term stays in one Airbnb often results in discounted rates. Similarly, choosing to visit one major city per week means travelers can save money on transportation fees and more time walking around their destination on foot to explore beyond the main tourist hubs.
7 It’s Better For The Environment
There’s no denying that air travel has a negative effect on the planet. According to the David Suzuki Foundation, flight emissions stay in the atmosphere and warm it for centuries. They have the potential to cause chemical reactions and atmospheric effects that heat the planet because of the high altitude where they’re released. Since many travelers are passionate about air travel, this is often a tough truth to hear. Fortunately, it doesn’t mean travel has to stop. It simply means we must find sustainable alternatives to air travel where possible to mitigate the impact on the planet.
One such alternative is overland transportation. Slow travel provides the opportunity to skip the quick flight to a faraway destination and take a bus or train overland to a nearby city or country over a longer period.
6 You See More Of Each Destination
Choosing slow travel over counting countries means spending more time in each place and traveling over a longer period. With the time to relax in a destination rather than hitting the highlights on a guided tour and moving on to the next place, there is a chance to wander freely. Often, the best part of visiting a new place is wandering without a specific goal, simply appreciating the architecture of the streets, finding hole-in-the-wall shops where locals get their breakfast each morning and watching quiet sunsets unimpeded by crowds. Staying in a place longer allows travelers the time to have these unique and memorable experiences.
5 Less Chance Of Burnout
Traveling at a rapid speed might be fun at the beginning of a trip, but by the end of a week or two, it’s a recipe for burnout. Early mornings, late nights, and no downtime can feel like you’re maximizing your time in a destination, but in reality, you’re exhausting so much energy you won’t have the mental capacity to truly appreciate where you are.
Slow travel helps travelers maintain their mental and physical health while on a trip by encouraging them to schedule downtime into their itinerary. Relax at the beach in Greece for a few extra days instead of heading to a new island, or spend the afternoon reading at a coffee shop in Paris instead of jetting off to London for one night. These moments of self-care will become some of your favorite memories.
4 You Can Work On The Road
Today, 16% of companies globally are fully remote, giving more people than ever before a chance to experience what the digital nomad lifestyle is all about. Remote work provides the ideal work-life balance of traveling the world and making the most of free time while still earning a regular income. However, when working remotely, it’s not possible to travel the same way one would while on a one or two-week vacation.
In order to still focus on deadlines, join Zoom calls, and deliver high-quality results, travelers must set realistic expectations for working while traveling. Slow travel is a great way to ensure you still have time to experience the destination in the hours when you’re off the clock.
3 Make Connections
Traveling quickly means seeing more of the world in a shorter time, but traveling slowly means experiencing more of the world. Rather than joining a guided tour and staying at a hotel for a few nights before departing for a new city, travelers who choose to slow down and stay in a destination for a prolonged period have a chance to establish a routine there and make connections with locals living in that destination. They can chat with them at coffee shops and local restaurants, meet their neighbors, and even connect with other travelers who are also trying to have an authentic experience in a new place.
2 You’ll Appreciate The Little Things
When you do anything too quickly, it’s inevitable that you’ll miss something. The same is true for traveling fast; although travelers might get a sense of a place during a short stay, there are beautiful details in each country, city, and town that will get lost in the chaos. Choosing to stay a little longer in one place provides an opportunity to notice more than what is obvious at first glance. Travelers will begin to take note of the local bird calls, become familiar with what sounds a person in this city wakes up to every morning, or know what the best stall at the local farmer’s market is. Understanding the intimate details of a destination is part of the beauty of traveling slowly and sustainably.
1 Less Contribution To Overtourism
Travelers who are eager to bounce between destinations quickly are typically hitting popular tourist spots like Venice, Paris, Rome, Phuket, or Tulum. Many of these places are becoming somewhat undesirable to travelers because of the sheer volume of visitors they receive annually. The crowds make it unpleasant to visit during peak season, and local businesses have increased prices accordingly, making it more expensive to travel there as well.
Travelers who choose to slow their pace and stay in each place longer tend to venture out of the main tourist centers and discover less frequented destinations that are more authentic and beautiful. Examples are travelers heading to Ninh Binh, Vietnam, instead of Halong Bay, or Bologna, Italy, instead of Venice. Although they are often less accessible by a quick flight, these places that aren’t as popular with international tourists are the best reason for travelers to take their time and explore a destination beyond its biggest attractions.