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Thom Brown Travel - Waiting to travel with suitcase and backpack

Why Travellers Should Take Their Time

I’ve travelled fast and I’ve travelled slow. In almost every instance, slow travel has led to more memorable trips and had a greater impact on my personal growth. This blog is all about how to travel better. This means seeking travel which helps you as an individual, while also positively impacting the world.

Fast travel can be fun – and therefore should be encouraged as a rare treat – but its impact on the world won’t be as positive. Nor will it give you what you’re really searching for as a traveller overseas.

In an increasingly fast-paced world, it can take a real effort to slow down and really enjoy the moment. So, take the bus, rent an apartment, learn the local language, and get into the habit of slow travel.

Slow travel in hammock

Slow Travel is Sustainable

To travel better, your goal has to be sustainability. Can you continue with your travel habits over a long period of time, without causing any damage to your own life or the environment? In almost all cases, jetting from place to place will impact your health, relationships – and of course, the environment.

Sustainable for the Individual

Travel is exhausting. Beyond the jet lag and nights out with your hostel buddies, the mental energy of figuring out an unfamiliar environment takes its toll. By giving yourself longer at each destination, you have time to recover from the journey and a chance to rest, while still doing all the things on your bucket list.

This is essential if you want to travel full time. Trying to see too much is going to sap you of energy, no matter how young and fit you are. By embracing slow travel, you can maintain your physical and mental health.

By taking this approach, you’ll get to see more places in the long run because you won’t burn out. Also, you’ll be more economically productive and thus able to save for future trips.

It’s a win-win: slow travel lets you travel more without it becoming exhausting or detrimental to your health.

Sustainable for the World

Better travel means travel that does more good than harm, including for the environment. It’s an unhappy fact of today’s world that most means of transport emit carbon emissions. Hopping from country to country as quickly as possible necessarily requires taking flights, which we know causes a huge amount of environmental damage.

This has led to the rise of concepts like flight shame and activists like Greta Thunberg giving up flying altogether. I believe that travel doesn’t have to negatively impact the world. When people travel, so too do ideas. So we need environmentalists to keep travelling and spread eco-friendly ideals to parts of the world where these concepts aren’t widely discussed.

But we need to travel sustainably by travelling slowly. Move from city to city, or country to country, via trains and buses. When in destination, walk or cycle as much as possible.

Yes, it will take longer, but it’s the most effective way you can keep travelling while limiting your impact on the environment.

Slow travel is sustainable travel.

Slow Travel is More Meaningful

Sustainability aside, slow travel offers the greatest benefits to the traveller. ‘Why travel?’ is a question that probably dates back to humanity’s nomadic origins, but I think I’ve come pretty close to the answer. To greater or lesser extents, travellers are looking for:

  • Adventure
  • Personal growth
  • A greater understanding of other cultures

All of these are best achieved through slow travel.

Slow Travel Offers Adventure

Now I love airports and train stations, especially when I’m in an unfamiliar place. Just trying to figure out which train to get and how to buy a ticket feels like an adventure in itself. But if you travel too quickly, then you spend more time in international airport hubs than you spend in destination, where all the excitement is.

When I went to Denver, for instance, I made sure I was there for at least a month. This gave me time to meet local people and organise a three-night camping trip in the Rocky Mountains, far from the city. If I’d only spent a few days there, this adventure wouldn’t have been open to me.

Slow Travel Aids Personal Growth

Slow travel gives you time to reflect, whether in a journal or just in your head during a long walk down the beach. Personal development comes from setting yourself challenges but also having time between those challenges to process what you’ve learned.

When you’re constantly moving from place to place, it becomes easy to shirk responsibility. Conversely, setting yourself up within a community for a significant period makes you feel part of that community. It helps you to grow as a person by being able to do something positive for the town in which you stay, as well as the locals you form bonds with.

Understanding Other Cultures

A big part of travel is getting to know an unfamiliar culture. I don’t believe you can really learn much from books or articles in this case. You have to go to a place and you have to live there for a while.

I’ve certainly had small trips, often visiting a country for no more than 24 hours. Sure, it’s a nice day out and you get some idea of the place you’re in. But you never truly get to know its history or understand the mindset of the local people. If you travel to gain knowledge, then practice slow travel more often.

Slow travel leads to adventure and friendship
Me with a Californian I met in Boulder, halfway through our 10-hour hike in the Rocky Mountains

Fast travel and slow travel both have their benefits. Sometimes, you simply don’t have time to travel slow. But if you do have time, then use it. This form of travel is infinitely more sustainable and rewarding.

Help me promote better travel!

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