Slow Travel – 6 Tips and Tricks

Posted by on May 20, 2015

Tips for slow travel

In my last article I revealed why I am a big advocate of slow travel and what its benefits are. The point is that travel shouldn’t be a race or competition to see the most places. So many other aspects of our modern lives are like that already, hectic, rushed and competitive, so why continue during our precious time off? Instead we should savor our travel time, take in all in of those new impressions with all of our senses and make room for relaxation, inspiration and cultural exchange. It’s about taking more back home than just a photograph. But how do you actually do it, you might wonder. Well, there are a few simple tips that will help you to drop it down a gear and make the most of your trip.


Put your itinerary on a diet

I often receive messages from readers who ask for advice with regards to their itinerary.  The common problem I see is that they are often way too packed. My general advice is to do less and spend more time in fewer places.

The magic of slow travel, where the emphasis is less on manic sightseeing and more on taking in your surroundings at a relaxed pace. (Sarah Schlichter, travel writer)

You have a month off and want to travel Southeast Asia? Instead of rushing from one country to the other, wasting time and money on the road, pick just two countries, maybe even just one and explore it thoroughly. Instead of visiting 10 places, just do three. You want to travel the world in six month? Why the rush? Pick just one region or a few countries and immerse in those. Slow travel means spending more time in fewer places. Remember, less is more.

Motorbike Monk Phom Penh

Why the rush? Take your time and explore slowly.


Drop your to do list

The reason for the rush is often that abstract feeling of having to complete a  to do or bucket list. But to do lists are for work or for those situations where you urgently have to get things done and stay organized. I myself am using to do lists every single day and I could probably not survive without them. But they are definitely the wrong concept when it comes to traveling.

It’s the perfect time to be self-indulgent and follow your own itinerary, one that comes from within and not a guidebook. (Alex Leviton, former Lonely Planet author)

Don’t get me wrong here. It is good to do your research before your trip. It’s part of the excitement and a lot of fun. But stay flexible and decide what you would like to do and see once you are there. In the end, traveling is not marking off things of a list but rather about the quality time spent in a place. Quality over quantity!

Sunset with friends

It’s all about the quality time spent in a place.


Try traveling solo

If you are traveling by yourself, you are not only more flexible but also more receptive and attentive to all those new impressions your destination presents you. You have time to reflect and really take things in. Plus you are not tied to someone else’s itinerary. You can go with your own flow, be self-indulgent and create your very own memories. On top of that, I often found it easier to get in touch with the locals while traveling solo. That alone can lead to the most memorable experiences. And don’t worry! You are never really alone when traveling. You will meet so many new and interesting people.

Sunset Silhouette

Traveling solo makes you more aware and receptive. Take it all in.


Get to know the locals

Hanging out with other travelers is easy and often lots of fun. But getting to know people who actually call the place you are visiting their home is a great way of immersing deeper into your destination. These interactions often make for the most memorable moments. The locals can also show the hidden gems of their place, things that you probably won’t find in your average guide book. If you are a bit shy and hesitant, there are easy ways of getting in touch with locals nowadays. Couchsurfing is a great platform where, apart from the regular stay overs, you can find regular meetings and events which you can attend. Meet-Up is another platform which seems to work very well.

Filipino locals

Getting to know the locals. Only when you slow it down a notch.


Get your read on

I am not talking about travel guides but proper travel literature. Novels or reports about the culture and history of the country you will be visiting. This will help you to get a much deeper understanding and feel for your destination. Reading books like that is probably the best way to get deeper into a culture and it will also add to your excitement as you prepare for your journey. The Lonely Planet Section about the country’s history is a start and it also features a list of books which you can read before embarking on your adventure.  A perfect example for me was George Orwell’s “Burmese Days”. The images that this masterpiece created in my mind accompanied me throughout my whole journey across the Myanmar.

Trishaw Myanmar

A trishaw driver in Burma. Slowing it down and reading. That’s the way.


Stay longer

Why only stay a couple of days in a place? Establishing sort of a base lets you explore your surroundings way better than just passing through. Hostels and Guesthouse often offer better deals if you stay for a few nights or even longer. It is easy on your budget and you will still be in touch with other travelers if you happen to miss company.

Sunset bali surf

Base yourself somewhere and go exploring.


Last thoughts …

I understand that a lot of us are on a pretty strict diet in terms of vacation days. Sometimes we have a few weeks, maybe only a couple and often only a long weekend. We want to make the most of it, I understand because I have been there myself. But slow travel is not all about the time we spend in one place. It is really about the quality of time, our experiences and what we take home. We should travel with all of our senses and take our time take it all in. It is sure not for everyone but maybe it is worth a try for you. Maybe next time?

Do you have other tips for taking it a little slower? And what’s your opinion about slow travel in general? Let me know.



Ox in Cambodia

AND DON’T FORGET: The ox moves slowly, but the earth is patient!

Join the ESCapology tribe

13 Responses to Slow Travel – 6 Tips and Tricks

  1. Justine

    I am becoming a bigger and bigger fan of slow travel. It’s true that most people don’t have the luxury (or vacation days) to spend a ton of time in one place, but that doesn’t mean that you have to try to fit EVERYTHING into a two-week vacation. When I went on my first ever backpacking trip to Europe 10 years ago I’m pretty sure I visited like seven countries in three weeks. Who does that? Now, if I have three weeks I will just stick to one country, maybe two. In my experience, this allows me to get to know a place far better than just blitzing through it!

    • Philipp Dukatz

      That is very true Justine and it’s good tat you made the experience. Now you know. And it is what I tell so many people. Just do less but take your time to really explore and get to know a place. The memories will be far lasting longer. I mean, you can always come back and do the rest. We have an entire life to explore places..why the rush, right. Where will you go next then?Cheers, Philipp

  2. jove

    you really hit it..
    me and my friends is planning a travel out of the country to see new things and a different side of the continent but im the traveler one, i travel Philippines though not much but mostly)they are not and it really annoyed me if i enjoy walking around and see things but they are all in my ears complaining of the heat, sore feet , hungry i don’t know . i really dont get them sometimes .. the idea of traveling solo sounds good too. Now i have courage to try it.. thanks for your ideas.. and ohh i will not planned the travel with my friends anymore 🙂


    • Philipp Dukatz

      Hi Jove, thanks for stopping by and your feedback. I can totally understand you… it sometimes hard if you are not on the same page in terms travel. Just gota find the right people to go with I guess. Or, of course, do it solo which I actually most of the times do myself. And I enjoy it to. I wrote an entire article about traveling solo..maybe you wanna check out before embarking on your first solo adventure….. I am sure you will have a great time. Let me know how it went ..

  3. Terry

    Great advice! I’m spending a month in Phnom Penh.

    • Philipp Dukatz

      Wow Terry that’s great. I love that city and would love to sepnd a longer period of time there. What are you doing in PP then? Sounds interesting.

  4. dines

    Hey PipZ….another great article…short but powerful, useful and direct to the point. i too have a tip for slow travel : drive 80 km/hr instead of 120 🙂 Kidding aside, I think the key word for slow tavel is Flexibility; one’s ability to adjust to new situations and adapt to the place. We may have a long list of to do things and places to visits, or we may have read a lot of books and heard so many stories; but sometimes when we arrive at the place, it is totally different. So we have to be flexible and open to what the place offers us; absorb most of the things, if not all; and yes, try to have interactions with locals. It’s ok to have laid-out plan,but this plan may be turned upside down, so leave room for flexibility.

    • Philipp Dukatz

      Hi Dines, glad you liked this one as well. I think you are definitely right, flexibility is very important. I changed my plans so often and it usually turned out to be a great decision. Why stick to a pre-defined itinerary if you find other tings which you might enjoy more. You never know what might happen right. Good to have a rough plan but even better to stay flexible. That will probably make for the best experience. Thanks for your feedback Dines…hope you are well. Cheers, Philipp

  5. twistedbade

    i really can relate to this, had a really great time after a climb in pulag, met new mountaineers, had a girly chat, you know,usual trail talk with the locals and guides, which btw, are the kindest. Its a very memorable experience for me becoz i never thought i can do it, plus its my birthday month so, it means a lot to me. I agree when you said that its not about the time you spend in a place its about quality time and the beauty of Pulag is just, unexplainable.

    And im also excited for my first solo travel…

    Again, great article!

    Have fun in tofino:)


    • Philipp Dukatz

      Sounds like you had a great experience ….. glad you had a good time at Pulag. First solo travel coming up… how exciting is that. Let me know how it went …. wishing u all the best … Philipp

  6. twistedbade


  7. Emily

    Hi Philipp,

    Just wondering if there were any other truly great travel books/literature that you have read and would recommend?

    Great Article