I’ve been blogging about travel for a while. My first post was way back in July, 2014, and this is May, 2015. That’s ten months, yet I’ve only written about two countries, the USA and the Philippines! Does that make me a bad traveler?
Many travel bloggers move around a lot. One week they are in Spain, the next they are in Hong Kong, and then they are in Costa Rica. They’re seeing a lot of different places, and I admit, I am a little jealous. But it’s not the way I like to travel.
The Word Is Big
Something I’ve been trying to stress here is how big countries are. We may think of the Philippines as a few tiny islands, but they are big enough to stretch from Canada to Mexico. Another “little” archipelago, Indonesia, is actually the fourth largest country in the world.
With countries being so big, it takes serious time to explore them. In the past I tried flying in, visiting a couple cities, and flying out. But I found that approach unsatisfying.
I prefer slow travel, staying long enough to be able to thoroughly explore several regions of a country. This takes time. Months. But even spending months, I only covered small portions of the Philippines and Indonesia.
Slow Travel In One Place
Part of the reason I don’t cover as much ground as I could is that I’m not constantly traveling. Long rides on buses, ferries, and motorbikes is exhausting, as is constantly arriving in unfamiliar cities, and not knowing where anything is.
To offset this, I often stop in an interesting place and walk around to a bunch of guesthouses, inquiring about weekly rates. Staying put for a while gives me time to recover from traveling, but it also helps me get to know a little more about my host country. I can become a regular at shops and restaurants. I can learn a few words and phrases of the local language, which will help me on my later travels.
Staying in one place frequently is also necessary to work on this blog!
Another reason I prefer slow travel is to minimize my effect on the environment. As a leisure traveler, I am part of the problem. Flying is the dirtiest form of travel, injecting carbon directly into the atmosphere. It could be argued that I could eliminate my impact just by staying home.
But I try to minimize my impact by taking as few long flights between continents as possible. Rather than jet-setting between Asia, Africa, Europe, and back, I’ve decided to spend a year in South East Asia.
The only way to get between the island countries is to fly, so another reason I stay a long time is to buy fewer flights. Once in the country, I prefer to take ground transportation, rather than local flights.
Slow Travel Still Works If You Don’t Have Much Time
I have the luxury of being able to spend months in every country I visit. But when I had a full-time job, I only had a couple of weeks of vacation a year, so that wasn’t possible.
But I still followed the slow travel principles. For my annual vacation, I would pick one city, and spend a week there. Then I could fully explore my destination. I think that worked better for me than trying to rush from city to city.
Does slow travel work for you?