Stop counting countries: Travel slow and travel further

Why do we travel? To meet people, to see amazing sights, to learn new languages, or purely just to get out there to see the world? Whatever the reason we travel, have you noticed how we have become obsessed with counting countries?! Uploading the most Instagrams and trying to conquer every continent? Why do we travel with so much urgency now? In an order to maintain your ‘online presence’, to upload pictures by the pool saying “I’ve had worse Mondays?”. This crazy connected world we live in is starting to do exactly the opposite and disconnect us completely. Disconnect us from places that aren’t tourist attractions, flights that are longer than a few hours and roads that are only pathed on Goggle Maps. But yes, we get it, some of us aren’t blessed with time, we have jobs and responsibilities and can’t take months out at a time. So we’ve reached out to some travellers to ask them what slow travel means to them and some tips to travel fuller:
long term slow travel volunteering

“ When I was younger I would rush through countries just to tick them off the list. I went to China once on a 72-hour visa and hated it. For years later I would tell people I didn’t like China. Then I went back by chance on a much longer visit and completely fell in love. I managed to travel further and a lot slower, and realised that my first impressions were only because I wasn’t looking hard enough or letting myself get too involved. if you travel fast, you only scratch the surface.”

– Workawayer Kate, USA.

travel slow full culture immersion

“Slow travel makes me learn more, It lets me see whether I really love a country or not. Even if I don’t like a country straight off I give myself more time there to see past my initial impression”

– Derek Freal, The HoliDaze

off beaten path travel meaningful

“ Choose a destination within a country and conquer that specific place. Don’t try, for example, to go to the Philippines and try and see every island there in record time. Set your bag down and see as much as you can within the time frame you have. If you love a country so much, promise yourself you’ll come back and see it again rather than try and rush through it.”

– Richelle Gamlam, Adventures Around Asia

travel meaning memory carpe diem

“ I haven’t got enough time to travel slowly as I have a full-time job, so I find a destination I love and keep returning until I feel like I really know it and then choose another one. For me, that is slow travel.”

– Random guy on the bus to Taipei

alternative off grid slow travel

“ I’ve been travelling for 5 years now and I honestly don’t know how many countries I’ve been to I don’t count. I like getting to know every inch of a city, and every part of a country and I know, from experience, that takes a long time. So I stay until I have a reason to leave. I find ways to work on the road so I can travel longer, from teaching to volunteering and even writing a travel blog.”

– Sarah Richard, Coffee with a slice of life

"Admire the beauty of the land and think of those in the sky."

“Admire the beauty of the land and think of those in the sky.”

“Do what makes you happy, but I’m sure travelling slow will make you that”

– Dave Brett, Travel Dave

So it seems we all have different ideas of what slow travel means to us, and here at Workaway we truly believe in the gift of time. Throughout our hour’s volunteering around the world, we have learnt how valuable it is to travel fully, to be in the present moment, and to really take in what is around you. Whether that be for one week, one month, or one year; just travel, but let’s stop making it a competition. Who agrees?

28 replies
    • Aysenur Fidan
      Aysenur Fidan says:

      I love travelling slow. This is te first time that I tried to squieze many counturies in a short time. Because I was planning to go to Colombia from Brazil and see all the countries on the way. But after reaching to Santiago,Chile I have changed my mind because I liked here so much and also I was tired of moving all the time. Now I am volunteering at the hostel I stay and started to meet amazing people, get to know the city better and establish strong friendships. And now I have more time to study Spanish 🙂 Slow travel is the best!

    • David Oliver
      David Oliver says:

      Yes, try this. Many people get caught up in the rat race and it gets to be all about having a nice car and “things” and then you are in debt and can’t afford to take time off.

  1. Eve Thekat
    Eve Thekat says:

    With every travel I realized more that I rather travel slow.
    You get in touch with the local people and maybe you are lucky and get an invite to their home to listen to their stories about life and culture!
    That’s the greatest!

  2. Martin Sibbe
    Martin Sibbe says:

    Maybe some of the urgency comes as a result of the fact that many of us are led to believe the world is going to pot – the rainforests are disappearing, the Barrier Reef is about to check out and more and more countries seem to be turning in to war zones. If someone’s bucket list consists of several continents they might just feel an urge to visit them before they change forever.
    If nothing else fast travel, if not done too fast, will give you an idea and encourage you to revisit one or more countries in the future to delve deeper…

  3. Junalyn ysulat
    Junalyn ysulat says:

    This is very inspiring and this is how I see myself as I travel. I want to be part of very city and countries I’m going to visit. Learn new language and interact with people. Few months ago I started my journey and I named it Off To See The World. Right now I’m in Spain learning and discovering new things learning the history.

  4. Mariah Grimwood
    Mariah Grimwood says:

    This is so great! I feel like more people need to think about travel this way, I have seen too many friends visit countries for really short trips and leave feeling unfulfilled because they either went for too short a time or only really saw the ‘surface’ of the country. Personally, I’ve found great enjoyment in going on educational tours, volunteer trips and wildlife excursions- experiences that go beyond the regular tourist sites and get you into the community and making a difference. So much more rewarding. Especially since travelling has become so devastating to natural habitats and indigenous cultures. I recently went on a wildlife protection tour and highly recommend it for anyone who wants to expand their mind and awareness 🙂 Here’s a cool site I have started using to find inspiration and reviews for tours :

  5. Ann
    Ann says:

    Thanks for a very thoughtful article. I am 62, just starting to plan international travel after a lapse of 30 years. If there is anyone who should feel time pressure, it’s me, since I recently became conscious that I have a limited time left! But the addiction to speed is killing us and all this quantification I think is a form of consumerism. Not for me…


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