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How to Embrace Slow Travel When You Work Full Time

 

Those of you who read lots about travelling will no doubt have come across the term ‘slow travel’. It’s used to describe highly-immersive travel experiences – the opposite of running around a European city over three days and ticking off all the must-see sights. It’s been my preferred style of travel for a couple of years now, so much so that I’m dedicating all of 2015 to the UK and Ireland.

 

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The problem with talking about slow travel is that it’s not always possible for the average Joe to do in the same way a permanent traveller would. You don’t have the time to cycle across continents, backpack through dozens of countries, or live in a new place for a few months. Your answer to the belief that slow travel is the best way to see the world is ‘That’s all well and good, but some of us have jobs, y’know!’ Jobs that you’re perfectly happy with and not willing to give up.

But slow travel is a state of mind, and it is possible to embrace this form of globetrotting even if you work the nine-to-five.

 

Return to the same place again and again

 

I know, I know. What you really want to do is shoot for new frontiers and tick off that list of yours, but hear me out. Pick one place – a city or region – and go there repeatedly over the course of a few weekends. Never return to the same spots, but instead dive into a different aspect each time you visit.

This is the equivalent of going to live in a new city – you spend your free time exploring different neighbourhoods. Getting to know one place really well and from a range of perspectives is at the root of slow travel.

 

Put down that list

 

When you only have a couple of days to see a place, it’s tempting to get out a guidebook and start checking off the top sites. Lists that cover the top places to see in a new destination are the enemy of slow travel. Head to a new place and let your senses guide you through it – go down the roads that catch your curiosity, and follow delicious smells and intriguing sounds.

Have a chat to the person on hotel reception to find recommendations for things to do that fall in line with your interests, and explore them slowly, taking extra time to try and understand them.

 

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Take a language class

 

One of the best ways to really get to know a place while travelling slowly is to take a language class while you’re there. Get ahead of the game and start taking a class at home – this will help to familiarise yourself with a new country and its culture before you’ve even set foot there.

It will also give you a run-up for when you do eventually visit; being able to talk to the locals and understand their home from their perspective will help you connect to the essence of a place.

 

Sit and soak it in

 

Hectic travel is lots of running around, taking a few pictures, and moving on. Dedicate large portions of time to really soaking things in – like people watching but for buildings, neighbourhoods, monuments, and more. If it’s a historical landmark, do your best time imagine what happened here in years gone by, and reflect on what it means to that destination now.

Squares are the ideal place to sit and soak it in. Grab a chair outside, order a coffee, and spend a couple of hours looking around at the people and how they interact with the environment. Gaze up at the buildings around you, and the shops and restaurants close-by.

 

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Dedicate a year to one country

 

And that doesn’t have to mean physically travelling to it. Say I really wanted to understand more about France: the beauty of the modern world allows me to read articles and books about the history of France and what it’s like today. I could pick up some French cookery books and experiment in my kitchen. I’ll take that aforementioned language class. You can immerse yourself in a place right from your own couch, just by staying curious.

Then book a couple of trips to your chosen place and enjoy it slowly in light of all the pieces of that country you’ve been collecting at home. Sure, nothing’s quite the same as visiting the real thing, but this is a good way to make do.

 

Weekends can be travel time too

 

Don’t forget to truly savour those two days off you have per week. Even if you have little money and no transport, become a tourist at home and look at your surroundings like that of an outsider. What would they find interesting? What questions would they have about this place?

Try and travel further afield in your county or state to familiarise yourself with what is has to offer. Dedicate long periods of time to understanding as many things as you can about it.

For more tips, check out my free ebook How to Have and Adventure Every Weekend.

 

Be content with the moment

 

An easy mindset to get into when you’re visiting a new place is to lay out a plan and obsess over completing the whole thing. This means that you’re nearly always thinking about the following stop – which monument you’re heading to next, where you’re going to find lunch, and if you have enough time to cram it all in.

Being so preoccupied with getting everything done can leave you trip feeling like a bit of a blur when you look back on it. Develop a happiness for going with the flow, and don’t let opportunity slip by you for exploring something in more depth.

Be present in every moment and enjoy the relaxed pace that slow travel provides.

 

Do you uphold the philosophies of slow travel?
What other slow travel tips would you add to this?

 

 



15 responses to “How to Embrace Slow Travel When You Work Full Time”

  1. […] lezen, ben ik een groot voorstander van slow fashion. En slow food trouwens ook. Maar toen las ik How to Embrace Slow Travel When You Work Full Time en dacht ik: ja, hier zit eigenlijk óók wel wat in. Ik sluit niet uit dat ik nooit meer ga […]

  2. […] Related post: How to Embrace Slow Travel When You Work Full Time […]

  3. Adam says:

    I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.

  4. Abraham says:

    Touche! My daughter and I had the most amazing time in Rome by walking the streets, taking the subway and bus, and mostly staying away from the usual tourist spots. We caught a very different “view” of the city and its inhabitants from the others in the group we were with. Three cheers for s~l~o~w t~r~a~v~e~l! Travel light and wear a smile.Well done. Inspirational as well.

  5. […] those who can’t travel because of full time work or other responsibilities, it seems like exploration is something you’re only allowed to fully […]

  6. […] Related content: How to Embrace Slow Travel When You Work Full Time – this post will give you some ideas about being a traveller at home […]

  7. Robert says:

    I love to travel, on foot, bike or kayak, all slow but very rewarding. When researching or reliving my travels, I use satellite views a great deal. In fact when at home. I would rather spend an evening with satellite view, than watch television. Using the fantastic images, i have been able to follow my trips along the. Routeburn, Greenstone and Tongararo tracks in New Zealand, even down to picking out the huts. I have also found that in the mountains, I can pick out tracks that the locals use, that do not appear on any map. Just be warned, it is possible to confuse tracks with some very nasty scree slopes.

    • Gotta Keep Movin' says:

      Thanks for sharing your slow travel experience, Robert! I love looking at satellite views and maps too – really gets me excited about the world. I hope your slow travels take you somewhere exciting soon.

  8. We work for six months and then take six months off. We do like to explore new places, however we also like taking our time with those new places. Last year, we did a full month in South Korea and it wasn’t long enough. This upcoming winter we’re doing six weeks in Colombia…and that won’t be long enough either!

    • Gotta Keep Movin' says:

      Not a bad way to do it, guys! Jealous of S. Korea and Colombia travels, sounds great. Enjoy your winter in South America! 🙂

  9. Heather says:

    Hi there,
    Great post. My husband and I have designed our lives this way, and are fortunate to have found the balance between our online work and longer stays. Of course, it definitely is a lifestyle choice and you are right, the average person will not makes that choice. I like your idea of dedicating one year to one country. We have a current home ‘base’ in one country and then use the other 6 months for explorations into 1-3 other places.

    Thanks for a great blog!

    • Gotta Keep Movin' says:

      Love the sound of your travel style, Heather! A base plus 1-3 other places per year – seems like a nice pace you’re working with. Thanks for reading the post!

  10. Tara says:

    This was a timely piece! My previously homeschooled kiddos start real school this year for the first time ever. No more 6-month vacations or even trying to make the most of the off seasons to travel. If I want to embrace slow travel, I will have to do it my own way.

    • Gotta Keep Movin' says:

      From that last sentence, it sounds like you’re determined, Tara! I’m glad this came at a good time for you. I hope you enjoy your slow travels from now on!

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