How to slow travel with limited time?

Let’s face it, due to work or finances, most of us don’t have the luxury of unlimited travel time. Some people work hard all year round to afford those well-earned two weeks off. They often tend to cramp in as much as possible and as a result come home exhausted… They have “seen” a place, ticked off the must see boxes, but have they really experienced what the city or country is all about…?

In comes slow travel! Slow travel is about experiences rather than sights. It’s about quality rather than quantity. It’s about the ordinary daily life abroad, the country’s food, habits, people, …It’s about immersing yourself and about making meaningful memories!

And you know the good news? You don’t always need a huge amount of time to slow travel! Here are a few simple tips on how to slow travel when your time is limited!

how to slow travel

1/ Concentrate on one area
Read up on the destination before going, determine which area you like most and concentrate on that one! Forget about rushing around from one metro stop to another. Instead go to that little café for breakfast where the local business men queue up before heading to the office. Go to the market, taste the local fruit and vegetables and why not, get some cheese for an al-fresco picnic in that park nearby!

A few years ago I visited the Cinque Terre: five tiny picturesque Italian villages linked up by walking trails. Most people tend to visit for a day or two. I stayed one week to truly enjoy the nature, food and people of the region and still only managed to scratch the surface.

how to slow travel

2/ Buy the local newspaper
Yes, as simple as that! Not only do you get to brush up on your language skills, it’s also a great way to find out what thrives in the city or country you’re in. You can learn a lot about the local culture that way!

In Tangier, Morocco, I learnt that the ticket controllers on public transport will have new uniforms. The old ones that had pockets in them apparently encouraged the controllers to accept bribes. A good little insight in the local customs 🙂

If you don’t speak the language, look out for the international version of the local newspapers like e.g. “The Bangkok Post”

how to slow travel

3/ Be part of a festival or go to a local sports event
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in Spain for the famous Semana Santa celebrations. I was invited to join the local celebrations in a tiny mountain village in Andalucia.  It is still one of my best memories!

In Rio de Janeiro, I had the chance to participate in an “ensaio”, a rehearsal from the main samba schools in the weeks coming up to Carnaval. I learnt a lot more about the Carioca culture there than I have going up Sugarloaf.

how to slow travel

4/ Go local!
I’m not just talking about the local food here. Meet locals! It’s so easy nowadays! Initiatives like Airbnb, Couchsurfing, Meetup, … are all fantastic ways of bringing locals and visitors together. Locals are the ones who truly know a place, a lot better than your guidebook does! So ask them about their favourite restaurant or café, go to the pub with them or why not, spend a cosy evening chatting in front of a roaring fire with your hosting family.

how to slow travel

5/ Be in the moment!
This is probably the most important one of all! In a world of social media, constant updating and FOMO, we tend to forget the most important thing: living in the moment! Forget about your camera or the next update for a while and simply be aware of the things around you! Notice that smell of freshly cut grass, take a moment to listen to the busker you just passed or simply sit down in a café with a cup of coffee and observe local daily life!

how to slow travel

What kind of traveller are you? Do you like to rise bright and early to see the city’s attractions? Or do you tend to take it slow? What are your tips on how to slow travel?

18 Replies to “How to slow travel with limited time?”

  1. Karin

    I love slow travel 🙂 I didn´t realized it was called that way though! I hate rushing from place to place and sometimes I am not even interested in entering the main tourist attractions, because they lack the atmosphere an ordinary, but local street can have 😉

  2. Global Mimi

    This is a lovely post! I am definitely a slow traveller, I love to enjoy things at my own pace and meander through streets with plenty of time to stop off for a coffee somewhere if it tickles my fancy 🙂

    • Els Post author

      Thanks! Oh yes, me too, it gives a more deeper feeling to the travelling than just ticking of the must see’s, right?

  3. Sophia

    Love this post! And I think it’s so great that more and more people are gradually clocking on to slow travel and its awesome benefits 🙂

  4. Maria

    Amazing post! This is a lesson I am learning at the moment, how to travel slowly. It’s especially important for me now that I’m full time travelling but I love that you have given some tips for those short on time! And they’re great tips too 🙂

  5. Aryane

    I had no idea what I was doing was called slow travelling!
    My boyfriend and I spent one month in Croatia last year and now we’re staying the entire month in Lagos, Portugal. We like renting apartments and visiting neighbouring cities. going to the beach, taking naps.
    I don’t like passing through a city so quick I only got a few pictures of the main sights! Looks good on facebook but it doesn’t create memories like slow travelling does 🙂

  6. poppy

    Great article. I definitely agree to live like a local! We love to stay with an airbnb, we’re actually in one in vancouver at the moment and love it!

  7. Elena

    It is so true, when we have the time, we don´t have the money…when money is not a problem, you don´t have enough time :))) Difficult to find the balance!

  8. Melody Pittman

    I’ve never heard the term “slow travel” before but I totally get it. There are times when I like absorbing as much of a place as I can, and other times I just want to get in as much as possible. My mind changes back and forth often. I like your suggestions and just after reading your post, realized that though I do not read a local newspaper where I live, I love reading them and any other little tourist handouts about places I explore.

  9. Sean

    We travel slowly, and this is great advice (and what we try to do). I don’t usually search out the newspaper, but that’s a great idea. I’m also glad we’re not the only ones to spend a week in Cinque Terre — between the hiking between the towns, exploring the towns, and hopping on the boats back and forth, there’s plenty to do.

  10. Revati

    We’ve always believed in slow travel, only off late a bit of FOMO has started setting in, and weve been tempted to plan hopping several cities on a single trip. Thank you for this beautiful reminder of the sheer romance of slow travel!

  11. kim a hazel

    I’m glad you let people know that “slow travel” isn’t only for those who are able to do continuous travel. This is how I planned my two-week trip to Spain last year. I still have two more regions to explore because I only covered a small slice of it. I went to the Madrid Open, a yoga retreat, among other things, and almost a year later I still have that vacation after-glow.


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