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Slow Traveling: The Key to Successful Long-Term Travel

Slow Traveling: The Key to Successful Long-Term Travel

While writing this slow travel guide, we are towards the end of quite a long leg of continuous travel. For the past month, Fabio and I have taken off of work and have traveled around Japan. We have moved quite continuously, oftentimes visiting a city or town on the daily, and while my eyes have seen something new every day and I feel as though time has stretched in ways that having a set routine life just doesn't allow, I admit that I am pretty mentally and physically exhausted.

This type of "fast travel" has gone against our mantra of "slow travel" that we have perfected over the past few months. Since last year, we tend to stay in a place for sometimes over a month. We work during the weeks and visit new places on weekends. We have woven some type of routine into travel, including work and the gym (or some form of exercise, like yoga in Bali). During these moments where we travel slowly, we sometimes complain that we don't have the time to see everything that we want to see, but I can assure you, it manifests a different level of satisfaction and doesn't lead to travel burn out.

So having experienced all points on the scale between fast travel and slow travel in my lifetime of travels, here is what I consider to be the formula to long-term travel success. Should you also have the privilege to travel for the long-term, maybe use this as guidance for support in slow traveling, in case you feel like you need to see everything.

Stay somewhere for at least a month: Benefits of Staying Put for Deeper Cultural and Personal Connections and Discounts

Rather than plan by the day, perhaps plan month by month. Choose a location that you really want to go to, head over to a site like Airbnb, and book a place in a single area for a month or so.

We have done this in Agropoli (Italy), Cape Town (South Africa), and Bali (Indonesia), so far and never have we regretted our decisions nor felt bored from staying put for a month in one place.

There are a lot of benefits to doing this:

  • Discounts - We discovered that hosts on Airbnb often provide some pretty steep discounts if you book for around a month (a monthly discount), this brings down the price per night quite a lot, so even if you go away for a weekend trip somewhere, you won't feel too guilty paying for two rents. That goes for things like gyms as well, which often-times has a much cheaper monthly rate than having to pay the daily rate.
  • Cultural connections - You will get a better understanding of the culture in your area than if you just hop around. While we were in Ubud, Bali, we feel like we left with a massive appreciation for the Balinese, and specifically, the culture around Ubud (heck, we even got to experience Nyepi). This would not have been possible if our energy was constantly going into moving around and jumping from island to island (or even town to town in Bali), for example, where cultures can completely vary.
  • Personal connections - You have the chance to make deeper connections with locals and other tourists. While in Cape Town, I was amazed that we developed quite a tight-knit community with a few locals and tourists and would spend a lot of the nights and weekends together, making that the highlight of my time in Cape Town.
  • Less burn-out - Imagine moving out of your flat and into a new one once a day - top that off with having to lug bags around through transportation networks in a place where you might not even know the local language and writing scripts. While this is a bit of an exaggeration, moving around is exhausting and a lot of energy is expended just trying to get from point A to point B. Staying put for a month somewhere cuts out this exhaustion, and you can actually leave feeling rested and accomplished.
  • Better for the planet - Fast travels are like fast fashion, they aren't exactly good for the environment. If you add up the carbon footprint from your fast travels in a day, it likely isn't so good. Think about the sheets and towels the hotel you stayed in one night has to clean, think about all the transportation modes you had to take in one day to get from A to B. Think about the thrown-away plastic from the food you ate quickly from the convenience store. If you stay put for a month, this footprint will likely be a lot less.
  • Provides a structure for (some kind of) routine - See next point

Develop some kind of routine

I am generally a hater of routine, but I tend to become the best version of myself when I am in a period of routine. I tend to eat healthier, sleep better and get up earlier, exercise, and put aside some time in the day for hobbies. When I fast travel, all of that goes out the window and I soon kick myself, realizing a little of routine, as long as it isn't too rigid in nature, goes a long way for my mental and physical health.

So whatever that may be, either having designated work hours or going to the local gym on the daily, these little routine things you can weave into your travels will alleviate burn-out and save you mentally and physically.

Check our One Day as a Digital Nomad video in Bali as proof that we actually have some kind of routine when we travel 😘:

Create a personal project or learn a skill (if you are not working)

We are working full-time for companies remotely, so that is what has helped fuel our idea and ability to perfect the art of "slow travel", but a lot of long-term travelers we meet are on a sabbatical or career break. If you decide to slow travel and are not working, you can fill in the time with a passion project or some time to learn something new.

We created The Fabryk, not because we really have had too much time to spare since we also work 40 hours a week 🤣, but because we wanted to hone some additional skills while we travel and hope to make it our main slow travel project at some point.

Slow traveling creates a bit more time for you to explore new avenues of creativity, whether it be writing, blogging, creating video content, or maybe learning a new online skill like coding. This is pretty cool because whenever you decide to put an end to your travels (and hopefully that is never), you will have some marketable skills that you picked up along the way!

Accept that you won't see it all, and that is okay!

As mentioned, when we are in slow travel mode, we will work roughly 40 hours during the week and have somewhat of a routine in place. So while we try to do something new every day, we usually use the weekends for doing the bigger sightseeing visits. As you can tell, we probably miss a lot of the sights, but we have learned to make peace with that.

If you choose slow travel as a mode of travel, you won't see it all, but in return you will actually see more -- the great paradox of slow travel. By staying put, you will have more time to check out that local night market you wanted to see or head to that shrine in the middle of nowhere that you would not have had the time for if you were passing through at a faster pace. In return, you will have richer, more local experiences that are going to leave a lasting impact.

I hope this helps you a bit if you are considering going the route of slow travel. As a long-term traveler who has tried many ways, this slow, leisurely pace is hands down my favorite and has helped me to grow in more ways than ever before.