A while ago we met a guy who told that when he was traveling in Europe, he saw 15 countries in one month. This made us think how different traveling styles people actually have. 15 countries in a month means about two days in each country. We wonder how much this guy remembers about the countries that he visited. What did he experience in two days? Does he remember what language is spoken in each country? We don’t know if he tried to rush through all the cities and places or if he just wanted to see the most famous sights from Eiffel tower to Big Ben.
Our basic phrase in almost every guesthouse has become “one more night please”.
Our traveling style is totally opposite compared to this guy. We like to take our time in each country and travel from place to place without a hurry. We always like to have some empty space on our schedule and if we like some place, we can stretch our timetable and spend there a few extra days. Especially in South East Asia, traveling slowly with this method is very easy. Our basic phrase in almost every guesthouse has become “one more night please”. Maybe the fact that we have been traveling for almost half a year and seen “only” five countries summarized our traveling style.
For us, the most important thing in traveling is normally not to go through the famous sights. Heavy sightseeing every day is quite consumptive and we also need days when we just relax and be. This is actually the best part of traveling from our opinion – trying local dishes, observing everyday life while sitting in a cafe and seeing how the locals live.
Some travelers, then again, want to be more efficient. They go to see the attraction they are interested in, take a picture and move to next place. “Unproductive” travel days are waste of time and this kind of traveler gets easily frustrated if there are not enough activities around. There is nothing wrong with this kind of traveling but we kind of get out of breath when we only think about it.
A fast or slow travel pace of course also depends on how much time one has to use for traveling. If someone travels only two weeks in a year, it’s understandable that s/he wants to see and experience a lot in a short time. Our traveling also used to be different when we were still working full-time. But also back then we always wanted to reserve enough time for chilling. We never liked to rush from one attraction to another.
Especially in many Asian countries, the holidays are very short or almost don’t exist. That is why many Japanese tourists travel through whole Europe in three days and want to see everything from Colosseum to Brandenburg gate. They don’t really have time to sit down and watch local kids play in the street or to chase the cheapest street food in the city.
Why to travel slowly
We really felt that we are not only traveling in that country but actually living there.
Our trip doesn’t really have a schedule or end date so it’s easy to take it slow and do exactly what we feel like doing. Why do we like to travel slowly then? We are trying to spend at least one month in each country because in that time we actually have time to get to know the local culture, meet locals and learn a few basic phrases of the language.
After two months that we spent in South Korea, we really felt that we are not only traveling in that country but actually living there. Thanks to our volunteering place, we stayed six weeks in one place and got local friends. We knew our hoods and grabbed food from our favorite place every night. The same granny greeted us every morning in the street.
When a traveler enters a new country, it normally takes a few days to get over the culture shock. At first, everything feels a bit weird: new language, currency and food. For us, it normally takes a day or two to learn where we should eat, how much we should pay for things etc.
When you travel slowly and spend at least one month in each country, you have time to see many places besides just the capital and most famous attractions. A few days in the mountains, a week on an island, two days in a small town that just happened to be on the way… You can experience a lot in one month.
We have noticed that people are very different in small towns compared to touristic sites. The foreigners are not something that they see every day. That’s why almost everyone greets and smiles at travelers. We have noticed this at least in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. If you form an opinion about a country after spending just two days in the capital, you might be terribly wrong.
Traveling slowly is budget-friendly as well. Traveling from one place to another normally eats a big part of the travel budget. Spending a week in one place decreases the expenses significantly. In some days you spend more money on activities and sightseeing. In some days again, you just want to chill, eat and sleep which means you don’t spend much money.
Disadvantages of traveling slowly
On the other side, one backside in slow traveling can be a certain risk of becoming lazy. This can happen when you stay a long time in one place. After our six weeks in Busan, South Korea, it felt demanding to pack the backpack and hit the road again without knowing where we would sleep that night and what will happen next day. But we got quickly used to the pace again. The instinct for adventure woke up quickly after sleeping for a while.
When you spend a long time in one city, you can also start postponing things without even noticing. Suddenly you realize that a month has passed and you haven’t crossed even nearly all things from your bucket list.
Sometimes it’s easy to get attached to places. This happened to us in Busan and made leaving hard. This depends a lot of the personality though. We begin to feel at home quite easily if we are in a place that pleases us. Leaving Busan felt almost the same as leaving Krakow earlier, even though we lived there for several years. With a quick travel pace this kind of affection is not that likely. On the other hand, this kind of feeling is quite nice. That’s how we know that this is a place where we want to return later.
Summarized, for us traveling means experiencing the local culture and just chilling without any stress. That’s why traveling slowly fits us so well.
Which traveling style suits you best? Do you prefer to travel quickly and efficiently or to take your time to explore one place?