One of the things that nobody talks about is travel burnout. When you’re running around like crazy and filling your days with activities at some point it isn’t fun anymore. You don’t have the energy to go on. We experienced this during our first world trip and it made us rethink the way we travel.
If you’re one of those people who are afraid to miss out on anything so you say yes to everything that sounds exciting, this article is for you. But really, it’s for all travelers, whether you’re going on your 2- or 3-week vacation or planning a long-term trip.
The best way to travel is to take your time. Be present and experience what you’re doing instead of thinking of all the things you’re going to do later that day. You want to be inspired, relaxed, and excited about your travel itinerary. Especially if you have to go back to work after this trip!
What is slow travel?
Slow travel has different layers to help you get more out of your trip. First, let’s take a look at how you can slow down a day. Instead of running around and visiting 5 must-see attractions in one day, pick 1 or 2 that really interest you. Plan a nice lunch or coffee break somewhere or end the day at the beach or with a good book.
It’s better to pick 1 or 2 items to do on a day and not feel rushed. Just accept that you won’t be able to see it all. There is always someone who is going to mention something you missed, so better embrace it in the first place.
Sightseeing is tiring and you need time to process everything you’ve seen before you’re able to admire something new. We’ve been at the point where another temple was just that. We couldn’t see the beauty of it anymore. It’s better to deal with FOMO and be happy with the things you saw, those are memories for a lifetime.
While I was reading about the Pacific Crest Trail I came across this term: zero days. It’s the days hikers stay at their cabin/hostel/hotel to regenerate, eat up, and give their bodies a chance to catch up to they can continue the hike.
Whether you’re planning a short or long trip, it’s a good idea to add days without any activities whatsoever. This will give you room to recuperate, do something spontaneous, or just simply permit you to sleep in. This doesn’t mean you can’t do anything, if you feel like going out, go ahead! But it takes the pressure off your itinerary.
While traveling long-term you will get sick at some point, you will miss a flight at some point or you just might not want to do anything and that’s where zero days come in. Flexibility to change your plans and permission to rest for those of us who find this hard to do (raise a hand!).
Stay in one location
This applies mostly to those of us who travel long-term, but even if you’re not you might want to think about this. Moving from one location to the next is exhausting. We always plan a zero-day after a day of traveling because we need time to settle in and just find our groove again.
If you’re moving every two or three days and need to combine this with sightseeing you’re constantly on the move. And although this might be fun and exciting at the beginning of your trip, there will come a point where it’s just too much.
We try to limit our travel movements to a minimum. We’d rather stay in one spot for two weeks and take some days to explore the area than hopping from one hotel room to the next. You create a home base where you can just leave your stuff and come back and pick up where you left off.
Rest is important
All this may sound a bit childish, we’d like to think we’re invisible and this isn’t you. But we’ve met a lot of travelers and they all say the same thing. To continue traveling long-term rest is important! Don’t underestimate the toll your body is taking by carrying around luggage, dealing with another climate, and different types of food than you’re used to.
Slow travel has given us back our energy, our curiosity, and our willingness to deal with crappy transportation and people not speaking our language. Not having to go out and just order food, or watch Netflix, just like we would do at home after a busy day at work, is the best feeling in the world.
The older we get, the more we realize that slowing down is the best way to take care of ourselves. We’ve seen couples running around for four months and visiting four countries while seeing everything. They go home and tell everybody how amazing their holiday was. But what they’ve seen and experienced is only a sliver of what those countries have to offer.
Take time to discover the hidden gems
The best thing about taking your time to travel and staying in one spot or one country for as long as possible is that it gives you a chance to find those hidden gems. Walk into an alley and find the most beautiful temple that no one talks about. Find that little restaurant with the best local food. Admire street art in areas that most people don’t have the time to visit.
At the same time, you get a better understanding of the country you’re staying in. You learn more about daily habits, about the culture and rituals that go along with them. It gives you a different appreciation of your home country because you see things could be worse (or better). All the things you took for granted are brought into new daylight and make you rethink some of your ideas.
We feel like we know Malaysia because we spent 5 months discovering all that it has to offer. The same goes for Thailand and Australia. We walked everywhere, taking in the smells of a certain area or the sound of the animals. If someone talks about a park, we know where it is, if someone mentions a local store, we’ve been there. The world starts to feel like your second home.
Don’t follow the hype
Slow travel has become a buzzword, it’s a new and cool thing to do. Apparently, it’s great for the environment as well. Don’t let that fool you and think this will blow over or isn’t for you. In this day and age, we seem to forget that we’re still humans who need rest, we need time to process our adventures, and we need to take care of ourselves if we want to continue a long-term travel lifestyle.
It took us two months in China to figure out we needed to do things differently. And to this day, this is still something I struggle with. My day in the hotel room reading a book seems so boring when another travel blogger is driving through the dunes with a 4×4. I constantly have to remind myself that this is my trip, my adventure and I need time to rest. Maybe more than others, but that’s okay. It’s my life.
Do you know what you need or are you just following your list of to-dos because all the travel blogs said you had to see this, that, and the other thing? It’s okay to make your own choices even though people will judge you for ditching this activity or not visiting that temple. Let them judge, just remind yourself that you’re not traveling for them.
Save money by slow travel
One of the things that hit hardest on our travel budget are travel days, especially when they involve a flight to a new destination. The best way to limit those days is by staying in one location for a longer period of time. Staying in Thailand for two months and traveling around by bus or train is much cheaper than visiting Thailand, Laos & Cambodia in the same time slot.
Another way to limit the amount of money you spend while traveling is by booking accommodations that have a weekly or monthly discount. This makes all the difference in the world and allows you to spend that money on another activity or an addition to your travels. We ended up traveling for 494 days instead of the year we’d planned upfront.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate a better deal as well. Usually, a host would rather know he has (a lower) income for, say, a month than having to wait and maybe not rent out the unit. We tried this in Kuala Lumpur because we couldn’t find anything we liked in our price range and the host agreed. Be fair when asking for a lower price and don’t take advantage of your future host.
Embrace the power of slow travel
Although we sometimes still struggle with this and will plan too many activities in one day, we’ve embraced the power of slow travel. A slower pace helps us feel connected to where we are and create memories that we wouldn’t have if we’d only seen highlights or must-visit attractions.
It’s the best way to plan your upcoming trip, whether this is just a short vacation or a year-long trip around the world. We all need rest from time to time and slow travel will help you create space and moments to recharge.
Hopefully, we’ve inspired you to at least give it a chance. Enjoy your next trip and when you’re relaxing with a nice cup of coffee and just enjoying the sea breeze, think of how that’s now a part of your forever memories. Take it all in, be present, and feel your curiosity and energy come back alive for a new adventure!
Find this post helpful? Buy us a coffee!
New here? Join our mailing list and be the first to hear about news, discounts and other related subjects.
This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission (for which we are very grateful). We only recommend products we would use ourselves and all opinions expressed here are our own.