How to Slow Travel with Limited Time Off

Slow travel with limited time

Slow travel, the act of spending more time in one place, has become the only method for me. The ability to relax in a place, and move slowly, has really broadened the range of experiences that I have. But how is it possible to slow travel with limited time off? I am incredibly lucky to have built a life that includes working remotely, but for most, that is not an option.

Americans especially feel the need to maximize their time off since we are given so little to begin with. For many, that means using the bulk of it to cram in as many destinations as possible. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, but it gives me anxiety to think about taking a train or plane every other day for two weeks to try to see more places. So how can you slow travel when you only have days or a week?

Choose One Place Instead of Many

Our first instinct is to maximize the time off by packing an itinerary with as many places to visit as possible. It can be hard to resist the urge to consume as much as we can. But consider cutting down your plans a bit. Instead of visiting seven countries in Europe over ten days, maybe bring that down to three. Personally, I’d probably settle in one place for the entire time.

You’re not going to be able to say you’ve been to more places. But you’ll likely have more to say about the places you have been to. Over the last three years, I’ve spent more than 16 months in Europe. I still haven’t been to Spain, a major destination. Not because I don’t want to go, simply because I travel slowly, and it just hasn’t been my priority.

Think of the places that you have more interest in. Visit them for longer. The other places will still be around when you have more time, or another vacation.

Do Less

Just like I want you to cut your itinerary down to keep you in one place longer, I want you to cut your to-do list as well. When researching a destination, I tend to make a list of the things I want to see and do. This can get very lengthy. So I go back through it when I’m done and mark the must-do vs. the if-there’s-time items.

Definitely go see the main attractions. That’s why you decided to visit in the first place, right? But just because an attraction has made some top ten list doesn’t mean you can’t skip it. I might be the only person who has spent months of time in Inverness without ever going to Loch Ness. Do the things that you’ll enjoy, and skip the rest so that you make time to explore the unexpected.

Slow travel with limited time
Shorten your to-do list to leave time for unexpected experiences.

Maximize Downtime

Give yourself downtime. This is the whole purpose of shortening your to-do list. Not necessarily to spend in your hotel room, but to take aimless walks, or explore something that caught your eye. Visit a cute cafe and read for an hour instead of being on a mission all day.

These are the moments that you’ll remember most. When you end up having a conversation with someone who sat at the table next to yours, or stumble upon an amazing market that sells fresh fruit and cheese. After meeting someone in Prague, they suggested I join them and friends at a beer garden. I hadn’t heard of it, and it’s not on any top ten lists, but it has the best views, live music, and a great crowd. With a jam-packed list of things to do, I likely would have turned down the offer.

Slow travel with limited time
Hang out at a bar or cafe and spend some time reading, writing, or just people watching!

Go Local

Of course, the locals always know best. I like to stay in Airbnbs with the host. If you’re solo, this is definitely something you should try. Your host will know all the great spots to check out. Or, they will be an elderly woman, and make you great meals. Either way, you win.

Slow travel with limited time
Get tips from your host or other locals you may meet.

Whether you have a weekend or a month, you can make slow travel happen. It’s more about attitude than the amount of time available. Join other women travelers in Companach’s Facebook Group to discuss this and many other topics!