What is Slow Travel?
When we first left the US in March of 2018 we set off to explore our new found freedom of location independence. After getting our feet wet in Vietnam for 3 months, we set out to “conquer” the rest of Southeast Asia. During that first year we stayed in over 60 different cites! During short stays we felt like crazies rushing to see as much as we could before heading to the next place. When we look back over that year, our best memories were of the places we took breaks and stayed for at least a couple of weeks. These were our first slow travel experiences. After our son left us in January of 2019 we decided to slow things down to see if we could deconstruct what made us more happy when we slowed down.
Why We Prefer Slow Travel
When we were moving from city to city we felt like we were just consuming what was being offered and like we were missing something. To illustrate, on our first extended stop for 3 weeks in Hoi An Vietnam we noticed a few things. After the first week local shop owners began to recognizes us, smile and wave. In Contrast to before, it was not the greeting of someone at a stall trying to sell the tourists their wares. It was a genuine greeting and smile that made us feel welcome. We were staying at a home stay and really got to know the local family we were staying with and had several meals with them.
We realized that we were actually learning about the culture of this place first hand. Since that experience we have gotten much better at getting off the beaten path and seeking out those relationships and experiences. In Wuxi China for instance, we were part of a special group of locals and expats brought together for 2 days to celebrate Chinese New Year together. I have to admit that has been one of the major highlights of our travels so far!
There is No Right Way to Travel!
No doubt, this is going to bring up the age old argument of traveler vs tourist. Let us put this to bed right now. There is no right way to travel. There is only your way! Travel how you want and in a way that makes you happy. If you want to go see the Taj Mahal, Go see the Taj Mahal! Sightseeing locations are popular for a reason! There is no reason to skip them if you want to see them! Do not be shamed into someone else’s idea of travel.
Our freedom of location independence has given us some amazing opportunities. We travel to experience and enrich our lives. Consequently, we have come to a healthy balance between popular things and others. Do not let someone else’s rules or opinions stop you. We were going to ride the double decker bus, see the castles and all of the things!! When we left London however, we spent 3 months in the English countryside in Sussex and Cornwall.
Our Favorite Slow Travel Hacks
We have recently discovered House Sitting! This is amazing if you can be flexible with your plans. There are people all over the world with pets and homes that travel like everyone else. Rather than board their pets, the find someone to stay in their home and take care of their pets! In exchange the sitter gets to live in the house with all amenities for free! We used House Sitting for the lion’s share of our lodging while in the UK. We only paid for 17 days worth of accommodations out of 4 months of travel!
The other hack is work away. This is even better in some cases because they feed you also! There are people around the world with projects ranging from farms and vineyards to retreats and venues. They rely on volunteers to come and help in exchange for room and board. We lived and worked at an Australian Vineyard for 8 weeks. The work lasted 5 hours a day in exchange for a 2 bedroom apartment and food allowance!
However you decide to travel have fun and always be open to new things. Imagine what the freedom of location independence could look like in your life!