Slow Travel or why Less is More

Posted by on May 7, 2015

Slow TravelIf you have only limited time to travel, and that is probably the case for most of us out there, we have to decide if we want to travel fast or if we want to travel slowly. Especially if you have your annual leave coming up, spending the majority of your precious paid vacation days, the temptation to cram your itinerary and see as much possible is great. I can relate to this concept as I have been there myself. But I argue that less is more and that travelling slowly will actually make for a much more intense trip, longer lasting and profound memories and an overall better travel experience.

I have been receiving a lot of requests from people asking for help with their travel plans, especially for exploring Southeast Asia. The common problem I see is that their itineraries are way too packed. But what is the benefit of crossing off places and attractions of your to-do list while all you will be taking home is just a picture like so many before you?

Travel is no competition like so many other things in our lives these days.

I sometimes have the impression that traveling has become some sort of competition. “I was here, I was there…. Have you been there? Why not? “, are common things you get to hear when talking to travelers. Features like interactive travel maps and the inflationary use of the term “bucket list” enhanced this phenomenon even more. But travel is no competition like so many other things in our lives these days. It is a quest for long lasting memories, for inspiration, for growing as a person and extending ones horizon.

Phnom Penh FCC

Sometime we need to slow it down. Less is more.


Lasting memories

Seeing nice things is great, but such memories are usually more of superficial nature. In order to create deep and long lasting memories, it will need more than just hop from one place to the next and snap a few pictures in between. The things that will stick, that will get anchored deep in our souls, will take more than just seeing. They will take true experiencing with all of our senses. It takes an open mind and heart to absorb all the valuable things a destination wants to show you. And it takes time.

bolaven plateau Laos

Take it slow to create lasting memories.


A deeper type of experience

A ten day trip to Asia could have you in three different countries or 4 major cities in Europe. But would you really be able to experience these places? I doubt it as I have spent at least a month in every Southeast Asian country and still feel like having only scratched the surface. If you slow it down and spend more time in a place, you will be able to really experience it. You can go on photo excursions, explore different neighborhoods, go sightseeing, mingle with locals and sample the delicious foods you will come across along the way.

Street photo melacca malaysia

Spend quality time in one place. Do a photo tour, go explore the neighborhoods.


Save money

Moving a lot means spending a lot of money on transportation. Even in times of low cost travel, bus rides, train tickets and flights can inflate your travel budget quickly. Why not save that money and spend it on some memorable experiences? At the same time, most guesthouses and hostels offer deals for extended stays. Sometimes even three nights is already enough to score a nice discount. It is always worth a try.

Thailand Tuk Tuk

Too much moving will add up. Slow it down.


Save time

How can you save time if you travel slowly, you might wonder. It sounds like a paradox but think about it: Having a packed itinerary means that you will have to move a lot. Getting from A to B will take time, don’t underestimate that. I usually tell people to regard transportation days as a whole day in their itineraries. Even if the actual transport appears to be fairly short, with everything included, preparations, checking out and checking in, the day will probably be over before you can really do anything. Save your precious time and use it to explore and build a deeper relationship with your destination.

Train to Kanchanaburi Thailand

Reduce your transportation days if traveling with a limited time budget.


Disconnect and recharge

These days we often live in a very stressful environment. Deadlines, commuting, overtime hours, juggling obligations and constant availability. Why do the same thing while traveling? You don’t want to come home, needing a vacation from your vacation, right? It is important to regard traveling as a chance to disconnect from the pressures back home, to recharge your batteries, find new inspiration and return refreshed. Take your time. Take your time to sit in a café and observe the local life, take your time to sleep in and relax on the beach, and take your time to get lost in a foreign place.

Sunset Tofino Canada

Slow travel means taking time to relax, unwind and recharge.


Immerse in a place and its culture

Slow travel gives you the opportunity to become a small part of the local life and to establish a deeper connection with a place, its culture and its people. You can become a part of it all instead of being just an outside observer. If you have more time, you can interact with the locals, get to know them and learn more about their lives and their culture. Most people are very happy if you as a tourist make an effort to get to know them. From my own experiences I can say that these moments can make a trip a most unique and memorable experience.

Hilltribes thailand

Taking time to mingle with the locals. Wit hilltribe women in Northern Thailand.


Last thoughts …

Slow travel means spending more time in less places. Slow travel also means to make your journey and the places you will visit special.  I know, it might be hard to drop a couple of places from your itinerary. But what you give up in quantity will be far outweighed by the quality of your trip and the experiences you will make. Traveling is no competition and less is more. Take your time to thoroughly explore with all of your senses, to immerse in a new environment, to relax and to make meaningful and long lasting memories. Try it out next time and in the meantime, feel free to ask me for tips concerning your itinerary. I am always happy to help. In my next post, I will give a few tips for traveling slowly and a more unique travel experience.

What about you? Have you ever found yourself traveling too fast or are you a slow traveler yourself?



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10 Responses to Slow Travel or why Less is More

  1. dines jansen

    Hi PipZ. another one of your thouroughly thought inspiring blog…..i bet it hit most of your readers who have all the tendency to travel fast and cross out the places in their so called bucket list, me included. Having just returned from a half year travel, as I look back, sometimes I feel I missed out a lot too; partly because Hans and I were also guilty of travelling fast and hopping from one place to another. Though between the two of us, I am the one who slowed him down. Thus, having read this piece, I will try to slow down a bit, influence my travel partner more and try to enjoy more of the places we are going to visit and interact more with the locals and fellow travellers. Cheers to you, my friend 🙂

    • Philipp Dukatz

      Hi Dines, welcome back to Holland. Glad you liked this piece here. Don’t get me wrong, I have been there myself, doing things fast and in a rush. Actually my last Pinas trip was like that. Sometimes you can’t help it. But it is definitely good to calm down every once in a while and rest in a place. Funny that you were the one to slow Hans down haha. Thanks again for your feedback Dines.. all the best. Philipp

      • dines

        It is all strange coming back after half year. I could imagine it was all the more different for you after your one year travel. Ja, I am slowing Hans down. He has the tendency to just go from one place to another, sometimes not noticing the details. He’s the type…Ive been there, seen…. and i am the type who takes time, sits in the park or a coffe corner and observe people, smells the flowers etc etc. I cant help but notice the picture with the starbucks, it’s like the tuktuk is hurrying to drive past it,a subtle analogy. Meanwhile, waiting for your next post for tips, then i’ll let hans read it ..maybe he learns something too for our next trip 🙂

        • Philipp Dukatz

          Hi Dines, glad you noticed the analogy with the tuktuk picture.That was actually intentional hehe. I think you guys are complementing each other well. When you meet somewhere in the middle, you willhave a nice trip I reckon. Anyway, gotta go. Catch you later Dines …. Philipp. Enjoy the starting summer in Holland.

  2. Jennifer Federizo

    Very good tips! I haven’t been to lots of places, but each time I travel to somewhere, I really like to spend time soaking in the experience.

    • Philipp Dukatz

      Hi Jenifer, thanks for your feedback. Glad you like my tips here and good to hear you kind of feel the same way. All the best and thanks again …

  3. berns

    Hmm love this one, why?coz it shows more about you. No offense, you have given a lot of interesting topics, but this one is amusing. More of your thoughts.
    I am guilty with the bucket list haha! but after my unexpected and amazing time in baler(not on my list), I crossed my buck list instead.
    I strongly agree with the saving thing, coz thats what I do so I can max my travel.
    I kinda hate travel packs coz it takes opportunity to explore.. (had a pretty bad experience frm it )
    like I said before, traveling is not just the adrenalin rush, the view or the food you ate, or how many countries youve been..its about what you learned from the journey and people on the places youve been.
    oh there..haha summed it up too much again!
    Its really inspiring..

    Thanks a lot for this ,

    • Philipp Dukatz

      Hi Berns, thanks for your feedback. Glad you like this article. I guess we all have been there, doing the bucket list thing, checking things off and what not. But after time we realize that this is not everything, that there is more to it. As you said, experiencing, learning and of course the people, locals and travelers alike, that you meet along the way. Alright… better go now. Take care. Phil

  4. Afni Amin

    I totally agree with this. I hate rushing from place to place during a holiday which is why I NEVER go on tours. It is true at the end of each trip I always feel that the trip is too short because there is just too many things to explore!

    Thanks for this insightful article!

    • Philipp Dukatz

      Yeah, we are on the same page here as I don’t like going on tours and only do it if there is no alternative. I once abused a tour just to get from A to B since, as weird as it sounds, it was the cheapest form of transportation. Thanks for stopping by Afni. Take care, Philipp