13 Benefits of Slow Travel

A big part of Value Travel for us is taking things slow. Our motto this year is “We’ve got time.” When we were working our traditional jobs, we never felt like we had enough time. By the time we finished doing the things we had to do, we were out of time and energy to do the things we wanted to do. 

We didn’t want to fall into the same pattern during our travels. In the past, the worst part of traveling was returning home more exhausted than when we left. We started exploring ideas for getting the most out of our time and discovered Slow Travel. 

Slow Travel is the art of taking your time. When we went to Thailand in 2017, we stayed in seven Airbnbs/hotels in nine nights. It was too much. We felt like the majority of our time was spent moving around. Alternatively, Slow Travel is about settling into a location in an attempt to really get to know it. 

For us, Slow Travel means spending a week or two or even a month in one place before moving on to the next destination, but it doesn’t have to be the same amount of time for you. If you have a week, consider renting an apartment, unpacking your bags, and taking your time.

We’re still working on finding our sweet spot as we continue to plan our travels for the rest of this year, but we’re experiencing Slow Travel during our three weeks in Argentina. Below are some of the benefits we’ve found so far.

Fog over Buenos Aires

1. Travel interruptions aren’t the end of the world. 

Things don’t always go according to plan. Obviously no one likes it when a flight is three hours late due to fog, but when you have three weeks in a location, losing a day isn’t as big a deal as it would be if you were only staying for three days. 

2. The cost per night shrinks dramatically.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the cost of accommodations can actually go down the longer you stay in one place. On Airbnb, renters are often rewarded with longer stays through weekly or monthly discounts (Airbnb considers 28 days a month). The host decides what the discount is, but we’ve seen as high as 50% off for a month-long stay. This has been a major determination in where we stay and for how long.

3. You can save money by making your own meals.

If you’re staying in a house or apartment, you probably have access to a kitchen. Cooking your own meals is a huge money saver. Additionally, if you’re staying put, you can buy larger quantities at the grocery store, which are often cheaper than small packages. You’ll have time to spread that jar of peanut butter over multiple meals rather than using it a couple of times and throwing the rest away.

4. You don’t have to sacrifice your health.

It’s no secret that traveling can be detrimental to waistlines. Between croissants in Paris and heaping platters of red meat in Argentina, it can be hard to eat healthy meals. If you’re making your own meals, however, you have more control over what you’re eating. It is also easier to exercise when you don’t feel like that time should be spent wandering around a museum or sitting on a tour bus. You can do both!

5. Your accommodations can really feel like home.

When we began our journey, we very quickly learned the importance of unpacking. We’re people who like to be comfortable and cozy. It can be hard, however, to feel comfortable in an unfamiliar place. Unpacking our bags right away makes our accommodations feel more like home. Since unpacking, packing, and lugging bags around is a pain, this is obviously easier to do if you know you’ll be staying in one place for an extended period of time.

Our neighborhood for three weeks in Buenos Aires

6. You can live like a local. 

In 12 days, we’ve really gotten to know our neighborhood in Buenos Aires. We’ve visited the pizza shop across from our apartment three times, we know where to go to top up our metro cards, and we can step out the front door and navigate to the nearest grocery store without having to consult our phones. We feel like we’ve gotten to know the area in a way that many travelers don’t get to experience.

7. You have more time to get acclimated to the language.

Collectively, our Spanish is…not good. But! It was much worse when we arrived in Argentina 12 days ago. Part of immersing ourselves in a culture is visiting local spots where the servers don’t speak English. Most of the conversations are done through pointing and talking like two year olds who only know a handful of basic words. It can be incredibly frustrating, but the longer we stay here, the better we’re getting.

8. Your first visit to an attraction, cafe, etc., doesn’t have to be your last. 

As you explore your new area, you’ll likely (hopefully) find things you like! It’s so refreshing to know you can revisit those places multiple times if you’re staying for longer than a couple of days. Discover the world’s best ice cream? You can get it again tomorrow! Feel rushed out of a museum as the guards announce closing time? You can go back next week and pick up where you left off!

9. It’s easier to take advantage of discounts.

Many major cities offer discounted admission to attractions/museums on certain days and free walking tours. In Buenos Aires, a lot of things are cheaper on Wednesday. Because we’re here for three Wednesdays, we have more opportunities to take advantage of those offers without having to visit multiple museums in a single day. Similarly, there are multiple free walking tours throughout the city. But walking tours are exhausting, y’all! Because we have time, we can spread them out and see more of the city at a slower pace.

10. You don’t have to feel guilty about taking a rest day.

One of the best things about knowing you have time is that you can take a break without feeling like you’re wasting your entire trip. Go ahead and sleep in after you stay out late dancing the night away. Take a seat and relax after that three-hour walking tour. It’s okay! The attractions will still be there tomorrow.

11. You can get off the beaten path.

More often than not, we pick destinations that a lot of other people have visited, written about, and photographed. The reason we go to these places is because we’ve heard of them and know there are things we want to do there. We go and see the things we’re supposed to see, take our pictures, and head home. If we have more time, however, we can take a day or two to get outside the city and find something new. We can talk to locals and ask for suggestions of what else we should be experiencing. We can go deeper than the guide books and make connections that others who rush through miss.

Train tracks in La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina

12. You can try different modes of transportation.

By traveling slowly, we have more options than we would otherwise. For example, when we go to Asia, we can choose to take a train from one location to the next in order to see more of the countries we visit, even though it might take longer than flying. We can also make choices based on cost rather than time, thus extending the total amount of time we’re able to travel. In Canada, we’re renting a car to drive from Vancouver to Calgary and to visit Banff because it’s cheaper than flying and we have the time to drive the 10 hours it will take. We’re able to be flexible and creative with how we see the world.

13. It’s easier on the environment.

We’re conscious of how traveling impacts the environment. Traveling slowly helps. We’re taking fewer flights/trains/cars than we would if we were visiting a different city every three days. We’re cooking our own meals and washing dishes instead of exclusively getting food in to-go packages. We’re filling our reusable water bottles and using stainless steel straws. We’re walking and using public transportation as much as possible. And when we do fly, we pay the carbon offset fee when it’s available. We’re doing what we can to protect this beautiful planet we’re so desperate to see. 

With so many benefits to Slow Travel, we knew we had to give it a try. What do you think? Is Slow Travel for you? Give it a try on your next trip!

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