Slow travel is the art of, well, traveling slowly. Or, at least in our case, the act of moving frequently.
And while it certainly involves rainbows, dolphins, glitter and sunshine more often than I can shake a stick at (I’m not sure I’ve ever actually shaken a stick at something, but perhaps I’ll try), it also comes with its fair share of giant bummers. You see, it’s not only important that you think of long-term travel as a feasible option, but that you’re realistic about certain aspects of it sucking ass.
Things that Suck about Slow Travel
This is absolutely the biggest one, and typically what keeps people from moving in the first place. People have a hard time imagining life away from everyone they’ve ever known, and that’s absolutely legit. Maybe your parents aren’t in good health, you can’t imagine being a cool aunt from 4,000 miles away, or don’t want to uproot your kids for something that might ultimately affect their future in a negative way. I understand all of that.
On the same token, slow traveling, and knowingly growing closer to people that you’re ultimately going to say goodbye to, can be just as hard, and just as sad. On one of my blog posts, a lady commented and said that her friend refuses to be friends with anyone who hasn’t lived in Hawaii for at least seven years, simply because she’s tired of saying goodbye to so many people. Personally, I find that both extremely silly and extremely sad.
I make friends everywhere I go – I high five strangers, say yes to new activities, laugh at everything, am a people pleaser, and find many excuses to drink socially. All ingredients for quick and hearty friendship, if you’re wondering. And yes, saying goodbye to new and old friends absolutely sucks. It’s like leaving a little piece of yourself behind everywhere you go. But guess what? You also find a new part every time you move again. After living on Maui for nearly two years, we’ve made some really amazing friends, some of which I know we’ll see again, and some of which I assume we won’t.
Instead of distancing myself from new, possibly cool people for future possibilities of being bummed, however, I prefer to think of slow travel as a way to make great friends all around the world. After all, the majority of them are simply a WhatsApp call away, and there are plenty of planes, trains and automobiles (and boats) for the rest.
Buying/Selling/Trashing/Storing/Packing/Moving Your Shit
At some point, the most exhausting part of moving semi-frequently becomes deciding what to do with all of your belongings. Since our travels are open-ended, and every place we move to has crazy variations on available living situations (furnished versus non-furnished, two bedrooms versus a studio, scooter included versus nothing, etc.), we never really know what we’re going to need until at least a couple of months into our move.
This means constantly buying and selling the same things over and over and over again – kitchenware, beach gear, and generally anything we use frequently that’s too large to cram into our relatively small amount of luggage. It’s a total bitch. But we get over it.
Previous to our current apartment, the longest amount of time I had lived in any one place since moving out of my mom’s house was 1 year. That’s a lot of reevaluating your belongings outside of slow travel, but it’s even harder when you know you can only bring as much as you can carry to a foreign country, where you have absolutely zero idea what’s available.
I’ll say it again – learn to live with less. It sucks, but it’s ultimately good practice if you like the idea of traveling and moving, and I can’t say it doesn’t feel damn good to get rid of nearly everything you own.
Loneliness, Boredom, & Finding a Balance
I can’t imagine what my slow travel experiences would have been like on my own. Having never moved anywhere without a roommate, friend or Peter, I have no frame of reference of how this would affect my desire to keep traveling. But I will say, from our experience traveling as a couple, it is wonderful to have someone to share your adventures with, someone you can count on, and someone to sit around in your underwear and chuckle with on a Monday morning.
It’s also just as important, however, to be able to entertain yourself, and keep some semblance of your own identity outside of “we”, especially when you’re constantly traveling and meeting new people, and no one knows you at all. Even though Peter and I love many of the same things in life – beaches, the ocean, hiking, silliness, reggae music, relaxing, drinking beer in the sunshine, cuddling, camping, spontaneous adventures, working in creative fields, etc. – and have made many great friends as a couple, on a day-to-day basis, our lives are very different.
He works in the ocean, I work on a computer. He likes playing in giant waves, I like listening to 90s R&B in the sand. He hates big cities, I adore them. He likes staying in and relaxing at nighttime, I like going out to bars and dancing.
When we go to the beach together, for example, we hang out for maybe 5 minutes – he’s off surfing, photographing or playing in the water for hours at a time, while I mostly relax on the shore and go for short swims when I get hot. As a couple who travels together, you inevitably end of doing a lot of things together – just know how hold your own outside of a couples-only scenario without getting bored or lonely.
Carve out time to explore new things as a couple, but allow yourself time to discover things on your own, too.
Haters Gonna Hate
Not everyone will understand your desire to keep traveling to new, unknown, and completely foreign places of the world. The majority of those people may, in fact, be your closest friends and family members.
It’s really easy to get frustrated or butt hurt by people you believe should be supporting you, but instead tell you you’re making a giant, uneducated, naive mistake, despite not speaking from their own experience. Some folks are quick to judge things they aren’t familiar with, and it is what is. Just don’t let them decide things for you.
If I only moved places that every single person I know agreed was awesome, you know where I’d live?
No, really. That’s a question. I literally can’t think of anywhere.
Bad things happen everywhere, dangerous people exist all over the world, and I have no time or desire to play the what-ifs game in the mumbo jumbo that is life.
Take a deep breath, live your life, make good decisions, and hope those people are less outwardly ridiculous about the next place you decide to move.
Let’s be real… that’s sometimes a possibility.
There are obviously more items I could add to this list, but I obviously believe the positives outweigh the negatives in the slow travel way of life. Got to have a little bitter with your sweet, after all.
I love your writing style and honest thoughts and observations. There are shit storms that occur everywhere its just a matter of how you navigate through the pooh. Once the toilet flushes you have a new canvas!
Haha! Such a solid way to look at it! Or runny. Eww. I ruined it. My bad. But yes, spot on.
Deported? You guys aren’t planning on fomenting a revolution in Bali, are you?
Haha! Not at first anyway, Mike 😉 No, but this was actually an issue in Costa Rica, and is definitely not out of the realm of possibility in Bali. Though the chances are small, we never say never and attempt to make the smartest decisions possible in the meantime.