Slow travel provides an amazing way of truly getting to know a country. It is is a mindset, not an itinerary. Learn the inside scoop from a seasoned slow-traveler.
Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly. ~ Mae West
By Gwen Hyatt
Friends ask me, “How do you stay in one country 2-3 months or longer?” My response, “Travel slowly!”
Slow travel is not about mapping out a detailed itinerary where every day and hour is accounted for. It is about taking the time and being present and spontaneous. Slow travel is a mindset that allows you to indulge in the smells, sights, sounds, tastes, and textures of a new location.
If you are investigating a potential country for resettlement, slow travel can provide a slice of life to help in your decision-making and expat planning.
Rooted in the “slow” movement
Slow travel has roots in the “slow” movement along with slow living, slow food, slow design, slow sex, slow work…the list morphs. The slow movement originated in Italy with slow food as a response to fast food. “It was founded to promote the use of fresh local foods, grown with sustainable farming techniques, prepared with love, and consumed in a leisurely manner in the company of good friends and family.” Oh yes, so Italiano!!
Let’s be honest, our frenetic and rapid-paced society creates fast living, fast eating, fast travel, and multi-tasking. An extensive bucket list of destinations results in zooming around and checking off the to-do-and-see list. Ziplining over canyons or catching city sights from a double-decker tour bus turns the world around you into entertainment. Plus, all of that constant rushing and doing is exhausting. There is another option.
Quality vs. quantity
Slow travel is about quality vs. quantity, non-rushing, being present, and developing personal and community awareness. When you slow travel you can stay in one place for a week, a month, or more. There is the value of getting to know a place and making more meaningful connections. Meeting locals and experiencing the day-to-day culture gives perspective to a place. Toss in some idleness and life unfurls in unexpected ways.
Slow travel tends to be less expensive and healthier. You spend less on transportation, sightseeing, and eating out.
Walking or cycling are excellent ways to explore cities and rural areas. Buying food at the local Mercado and cooking promotes healthier eating.
More to discover
Slowing down was how I discovered the corner vendor selling the most outrageous fresh peeled, fried and salted plantains. Right there, off the tourist grid, hidden in plain sight in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador.
Chatting with the local boat captain, Maria, who ferried me across the river to the deserted beach led me to an extended stay in a wonderful 3rd-floor apartment overlooking the sea with stunning sunsets in Vila Nova de Misfontes, Portugal.
Waiting for the local bus in Playa Gigante, Nicaragua talking with a couple that was backpacking through South and Central America for a year, is how I landed on the Rio San Juan en route to a remote village via two panagas and a dugout canoe.
None of these encounters were pre-planned, scheduled, mapped out, or paid for in advance. It was travel uncharted, taking the time to experience the local culture, converse with locals or fellow explorers, and savor the regional flavor.
When was the last time you allowed yourself to sit for a spell, to notice the contrasts of your environment, and to dig deep into the history, culture, cuisine, people, and the local scene of wherever you are?
This can be deeply satisfying, fulfilling, and give you perspective on ”Could I live here?”
Take a cruise around the TCI website to learn how other expats and travel explorers discover their ideal location. Let us know your thoughts!
Editor’s Note: TCI is a full-service provider of expat education and transition services. Our private platform allows our global expat community and our Expat Alliance of in-country expats and experts to interact so that all can successfully embrace the expat experience. Learn More…