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Temple, check! Pretty beach, check! Museum, check! Volcano, check! You’re travelling and you want ‘to get the most out of it.’ You come back home. The SD card is full with photos. You squeezed in most sights from the guidebook. You have definitely seen a lot. Only you feel like you need a holiday from the holiday you just had. Sounds familiar? With travelling like this, I think we often miss the point. It is not a race about checking off as many sites as possible. This is exhausting, shallow, and costs lots of money. It’s not rewarding for yourself, nor for the places you’re visiting.

The slow travel philosophy

Now, Imagine living for a week, or ten, in a van, boat, tent or rental, buying fresh coconuts from the man around the corner, riding bicycles along the beach, sipping coffee in your new favourite coffee bar, having dinner with a local, spending little, while quality-timing with the people around you, increasing your understanding of the place. You haven’t seen less. You have only seen, felt and heard more of what’s happening around you.

Slow travel? What does it mean? My definition: To discover, experience and live a destination meaningfully and mindfully. I’m a big ambassadress of slow travel and this is why:

1. Adaptation takes time

Travelling in a different country, culture, and climate requires some adaptation.  Usually it’ll take a day or two before you feel relaxed and comfortable in a new situation, and weeks to start to understand the place a little bit. If you sit back, relax and absorb what’s happening in the new place, you can easily process the new environment. Learn some local words and you can rock the rest of your stay.

2. To eat AND repeat

When arriving at a new place you can get overwhelmed by the unknown dishes, fruits, veggies, and street food you see. It’s cool to discover, try, and ask locals about it, instead of going with the comfortable club sandwich. Who knows what new favourite dish you’ll find!  Food is one of the best parts of travel so better engage all your senses!

3. Unexpected things happen

When you’re not on an itinerary, you’ll be more open towards what’s happening around you. If you don’t plan and go with the flow, who knows what comes up! You may end up having dinner with the first inhabitants of the Galapagos Islands because you had no plans! If you’re really lucky you meet the countries’ bodybuild team on a deserted island. Or, who knows, you end up at a Balinese temple ceremony.

4. Friendly for the (local) wallet

By staying longer in a place you can make a better deal on the accommodation price. A week in a hotel is about the same as a month in a rental. The local coconut man sells for friend prices because you repeat your visits. You can sort out the cheapest way to the next place whenever an offer arises. It’s not only friendlier for your wallet but also for the wallet of the locals. With slow travel, you don’t book all your stuff in advance, but you’ll figure it out on the way. It’s nice to pay directly to the end provider. The local will notice a dollar more or less! The bookings platform won’t. 

5. Cultural Exchange

By taking it slow, you experience more of the daily life, local habits, customs, language and cultural details that you may not see when you race through a place. The world is full with cool people with different believes, backgrounds and interests. Hearing new perspectives can be very eye-opening!

Photo: Having dinner in Flores, Indonesia with my new local friends

6. Meeting people & friends

Slow travel allows for more than one good conversation with locals and travellers alike. It makes you get to know your neighbours.  If you stick around for months, as I mostly do, these people become friends. Real friends.

7. Photo opportunities

Best photographs from travels follow from relationships with locals or other travellers, local events you encounter, or discoveries made when going by foot.

8. Personal growth

The best way to learn is through experience. By participating and interacting, instead of spectating, you figure out how things work in a country. Why do people do things as they do? The unfamiliar can be scary, confusing, and uncomfortable. But in the end, it’s these experiences that make you wiser.

9. You see more beauty

Going from sight to sight to sight is stressful. Stress makes tired. Travelling at slow pace gives you more energy to enjoy the simple things. By slowing down and walking the scenic route instead of taking a taxi, we get to enjoy a whole lot of beauty, which we would miss when only checking off lists. Beauty is all around us!

10. Today is all we have

We don’t know what will happen tomorrow so we better make the most out of every moment. Slow travel makes you present and mindful. It’s appreciation in the little things make your day. We just need our senses to hear, feel or see it. Like watching the old friends playing chest on a main square, smelling the frangipani flower with its intriguing frangrance, feeling the sand scrubbing beneath our feet, or listening to the singing of the birds when waking up. When you take it slow, you’re automatically more aware, wherever you go. It’s about the journey, not the destination. Cliché but it is!

I LOVE how this video, narrated by Alan Watts, visualizes this. Watch and learn!

11. Easier on the environment

Less buses, less taxis, less airplanes for slow travellers. With your own two feet, wind in the sails, or a bicycle you travel much more eco- friendly! Also, when sticking longer in a place, you may discover that green restaurant or learn which fish is responsible to eat, like the Señor below has been teaching me in Tarifa. Here’s 70 more tips to travel with a positive impact.

12. Off the path expertise

Step out of the tourist bubble and explore the unknown! Make your path. Go left instead of right. This is more challenging than hopping from sight to sight, but these new experiences are exciting and rewarding. What’s the worst that can happen? Get to know the area, wherever you are. You’ll surely discover some cool local spots and places.

Last night I spent the night at Kampung Belaraghi, a fairy tale village, but then for real! This town is hard to find and requires some motorbiking and hiking to get there, but it’s soooo worth it! Belaraghi is in the Ngada region of Flores where ancient belief systems, ceremonies, traditional building structures are still part of everyday life. While enjoying the corn and coffee by candlelight appetizer, a ceremony was prepared to introduce Willem (the local guide), David (the other traveler) and I, to the ancestors of Belaraghi, to ask for their blessings and to keep evil spirits away. In the ceremony a chicken was sacrificed, and from the intestines the future of our travels was predicted (positive! ;)). We shared a (chicken) meal and arak, arak and some more arak (the local booze). With the sounds of nature I fell a sleep, and with the sounds of killing a snake and roosters I woke up. Maria, our house host made us a delicious breakfast from papaya and banana flowers. Then we went back to the noisy world. I hope this village and its traditions continue for many more years! The people are so happy and healthy. 80 year old women just climb into their houses like a kid climbs a tree. Materialism and stress seems non-existent. It’s all so pure.

13. Curiosity for the next visit!

It’s simply more rewarding to get to know a few places really well than to only see a little bit of many places. You gain a greater appreciation of the place and the place gains appreciation for you. And you’ll have something new to see on your next trip!

Now what?

Ok. Great. You now know what is slow travel and why you should. But how do you slow travel this with the 20 days off I have per year? Stay tuned! In Part 2 I’ll share my best slow travel tips and tricks! It’s not about the travel time you have. It’s about the meaning you attach to the time you do have. You can  try this at home too!

In the meantime. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ‘slow down’ song:



Hi! My name is Suzanne. I'm here to help you go on ocean adventures and make positive impact for a healthier ocean. Explore this website to learn what I do and how you can make some splashes too!