Friday, January 15, 2016

In praise of slow travel

When we started travelling as a family, we'd map out each and every destination in our country of choice, cram everything in a week's visit, and taking an insane amount of photos in the process. While this proved to be fun (at first) and economical for us (we didn't have to visit a country twice), this left us more exhausted than ever upon arrival back in Manila. And the experiences were, in my opinion, too shallow to make an impression.

On the flip side, I've long admired travelers who can squeeze in as much countries, places, or tourist spots in a given period of time. How they'd pack then unpack their backpack and dart from one place to another, diligently blogging about their experiences on the fly, they were living out of a suitcase but practically seeing more of the world than me. 

Travelling on a regular basis seemed like a dream come true, until I did the same a few months ago (with only 1-3 days layover in Manila), but I'd feel exhausted and unaccomplished when I returned to my homebase. All this fast-paced travelling wasn't for me, it seems. I felt hollow trying to experience as much as I could during my visit. So I decided that slow travelling for me is the way to go.

I quite recall the book "In Praise of Slow" by Carl Honore which I purchased back in early 2000 when I was in the rat race (I was in the BPO industry then trying to make sense of my life, I later realized it wasn't for me) and I needed something to reinforce my belief that faster isn't always better. While it doesn't mean that you employ a snail's pace in everything, rather it was about seeking to do everything at the right speed.
Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible.
And so here I am slow travelling -- and some friends will say, I'm pretty chill in all aspects of my life anyway. What does it mean exactly? Slow travelling is immersing oneself in a place (be it a small area initially) and taking the time to get to know the local culture deliberately. After a first visit, I start planning my second, third, or maybe fourth return strategically mapping out which parts of the same city/country I'll discover next. This was what I did when I explored Singapore years ago, Baler in 2015 (I think I went back around 8 times), and then now apparently I am also doing the same thing with Palawan. Some places are just too expansive for a one-time visit.

At the same time, my slow travel also includes varied accommodations: a hotel, homestay, hostels to make the experience more meaningful. I haven't tried Coushsurfing yet though I may be inclined to do so this year. I try to stay at least a week in one place, working towards a month if budget permits so I don't have to fly too often.

While I understand that slow travel may be unattractive for some folks especially those whose vacation leaves are limited, I urge you to try it out and see if it changes your perspective of travel.

Now my next dilemma, how do you move on and not get attached to certain destinations? I guess that's a topic for another blog post. In the meantime, what do you think about slow travel? Is this something your lifestyle will permit?


  1. Love this blog post Kira!

    Perfect timing, I also realized a lot of things during my last trip (Hong Kong) with a high school friend -- ako naman si aligaga traveler. Haha! Dapat always ako on my toes, wake up early, visit several places in one day.
    But then, agree ako with hindi ko pala kaya na in one trip, 2 countries agad (kanwari HK-Macau or SG-KL), hindi mo pa nalalasap yung isa. :)
    Anyway, to more travels this year! Excited ako sa couchsurfing mo!

  2. Thank you! I figured, we should get more out of the experience than just the usual sights and sounds especially now when everyone has been just about everywhere, it makes more sense to create meaningful experiences and build relationships as we travel :)

    More travels to you as well, Ana! 2016 is our year :)

  3. Best of luck! And let me know how it goes :)