Slow Travel vs. Fast Travel | Where Do You Fall?

Recently, I’ve collaborated with The 5th, a watch company I’ve been a fan of even before I had this blog. Part of our collaboration was to create a post around the idea of time, and what it means to me. With this in mind and my recent month long trip to South Africa, I started thinking about how much I prefer a certain style of travel.

If you’ve ever heard me give an elevator pitch on There She Goes Again, you’ve probably read or heard this:

There She Goes Again is a website dedicated to stylish, slow travel for women.

Essentially it’s how I prefer to travel, though it’s not always the case. I don’t enjoy feeling grungy, and I don’t like jumping from one place to the next.

In an ideal situation, I rent a place for two months minimum and use that time to explore the city and nearby places. Or, you know, get a job for two years in one small town and travel the country from there :p

Honestly, if I moved to a new country and got to know it as well as a local, I’d consider that a bigger achievement than racking up my country count. To me, that’s time well spent.

Most travelers will fall into one category or another. In fact, one of my favorite reads, Oneika the Traveller, wrote an article about how she prefers fast travel.

I thought I’d go into a little more detail about what each of these means, at least from my interpretation, and maybe help you figure out which kind of traveler you are.

Before I start, though, let’s make one thing clear. As long as you’re exploring a country and its culture:

There is no right or wrong way to travel. You’re not a better traveler if you prefer slow or fast.

Now with that said, let’s discuss.

What does fast travel mean?

Essentially “fast travel” is country hopping. A fast traveler might try and squeeze as many destinations into one period of time as they can.

I fast traveled while I was a student in Spain. While I technically slow traveled through Madrid, getting four months to really know the city inside and out, I fast traveled everywhere else. The longest I spent in one country was my trip to visit friends in England for five days.

The shortest? The 48 hours I spent in Milan after finding a flight deal for 20 euros round trip.

Fast travelers might find themselves waking up in three different countries in the same week. Many bloggers who decide to quit their jobs to travel find themselves fast traveling.

As for why someone may fast travel, that’s up to the individual. Oneika lists out a few reasons in her post.

I fast traveled as a student for a few reasons

  1. Budget– When you’re living off of a few hundred euro a month, you gotta make the most of out of it! A 48 hour trip to Milan was really all I could afford.
  2. Time– We were only allowed to miss 2 days of school (which I used on my England trip), and otherwise only really had off Friday through Sunday. I couldn’t have slow traveled if I wanted to.
  3. Studying abroad was my preview.– I didn’t mind fast travel because I saw it as previewing Europe. It was okay that I only had 72 hours in Paris. If I loved the city, I’d return when I was older with more time and cash to really savor it. I saw my weekend trips like one of those Applebee’s sampler plates where I got a little bit of everything for a good deal.

I’ve found most people who enjoy fast travel are a little more outgoing, have a lot of natural energy, and wind up being incredibly organized. After all, if you only have a weekend in a city, you’re on the move the whole time.

I have quickly realized I am not any of the things that make up a person who enjoys globe hopping.

Internally, I am 80-years-old, and I do not enjoy being rushed. I also always like to leave a little room for those days I want to stay in bed and watch TV or read a book.

This brings me to my next point:

What is slow travel?

Slow travel is exactly what you think it means. You’re slowing down your trip, choosing to spend a longer period of time in one city. Some consider one week in a city to be a good benchmark, and I’d argue you want even longer than that.

Instead of hopping from city to city in a few days, you’re booking a rental and making yourself comfortable. You’re hanging up your clothes, buying some groceries, and nesting just a little bit.

Slow travelers, I’ve found, have the luxury of a higher budget and more time.

If I want to come back and take a nap in the afternoon, I can. I’m not worried about missing out on an event or sight because I slept through its opening times.

If I want to spend the whole day just hanging out in one spot, I can. I have the time to do that.

While slow travel doesn’t necessarily mean choosing public transportation over a cab, it certainly helps. I’d much prefer to sit on a local bus and see all the different stops than hop in a cab for a quicker ride.

Of course, my most recent slow trip was to SA. Since ending my contract in Korea and trying to make an online life work, I have the luxury of time. None of my friends in 9-5 jobs have the luxury of taking off for a month in the middle of winter to go travel around another country.

Since I spent so much time in one country (and really one area), I had time to really catch up with friends, get some online work done, see everything I wanted to see, and just relax.

And because my friends drove, I got a chance to see parts of the country I’d never see on my own. Whether it was Roxy’s mom taking a very bumpy side trip in the Katberg pass during our 15-hour drive from Port Elizabeth to the farm near Pietermaritzburg or Lynsey taking me around the Western Cape, I really got to see the country.

Which one are you?

From my own experience, here are some characteristics I’ve come up to describe the type of person who might prefer fast or slow travel.

Fast Travel

  • extroverted
  • energetic
  • can function on less sleep
  • on a budget of either time, cash, or both

Slow Travel

  • introverted
  • calmer
  • requires a lot of downtime
  • not necessarily budgeting time or money

Of course, these two can easily overlap. I’m sure there are many introverted fast travelers and extroverted slow travelers.

So what do you prefer?

Thanks to The 5th for getting me to think about time. My watch is the Upper East

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  • Great article! Slow travel is for me for sure!
    Most backpackers I have met spend one/two days here, one/two days there and are stuck on a schedule.
    I like to go to a place…and if I like it, I want to stay there for four days, a week, or two weeks.
    I like it when a ‘foreign place’ starts to feel home…like I know my way around and such.

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