Why Slow Travel Is The Best!

Words and Photos by Dustin and Noami Grevemberg
@irietoaurora & cactiandcoconuts.green

Travel is one of the most rewarding human experiences - it opens your mind and shows you there is no one way to live. It forces you outside of your comfort zone, and connects you to people and cultures you wouldn’t otherwise experience.


What is Slow Travel?

You may know it as responsible travel, sustainable travel, eco tourism, or low impact tourism.

Slow Travel is not just a way of travel but a mindset of quality over quantity. It’s about creating positive change through travel. It’s about overcoming the urge to see and do it all, and instead, fully immersing yourself in the experience.

When you embrace “slow travel” you’re urged to drop the to-do lists and the plan for Insta-worthy shots. You forgo travel guides and tourist itineraries and focus on the things that locals do everyday - how they eat, live, and play - the things that excite them and bring them joy. These experiences will be much more memorable and impactful than racing to get to the next viewpoint.

Slow travel is quite literally slowing down your travels. Imagine visiting a place and learning it so well, you could actually be a tour guide. Our society has a need for instant gratification. On our travels and vacations, the instinct is to cram as much as we can in order to maximize our time. When you embrace the mindset of slow travel, you free yourself from the tedious pressure of standard tourism. And by doing less you can actually experience more. It doesn't have to be a month, it could be a week or even a weekend trip. The important thing is that you slow down and enjoy the simplicity of the journey, that’s when you cultivate a real sense of place.


Photo by Travis Enck @trav_travels_

Photo by Travis Enck @trav_travels_


7 Reasons to Choose Slow Travel

Connect with people: Talking to locals and meeting fellow travelers is one of the most exciting parts of slow travel. Some of the best connections are often forged by sharing a campfire with a stranger and swapping stories from the road. Slowing down means creating space to make deeper connections which often lead to lasting friendships.

Photo by Matt Swartz @van.project

Photo by Matt Swartz @van.project


Reduce your environmental footprint: The way in which we reach our destination will inevitably leave an impact on the environment. And when we heed that age old wisdom and make the journey our destination, we’re even more likely to leave a mark on Mama Earth. But when we choose to travel slowly and stay longer, we reduce the amount of fossil fuels needed to propel us on our journeys.

So when you find that perfect campsite, spread out and stay a while. And when you have a choice of how to get from A to B, remember: a plane is worse than a car; a car is worse than a train; a train is worse than a bus; a bus is worse than bikes or walking.

No matter how you choose to get there, going more slowly minimizes your impact and brings us to our next one...

Save Money: In vanlife, fuel is usually our biggest expense. And when we travel long distances, it adds up. Traveling slowly and staying longer keeps your money in your wallet and not in your tank.

If you’re leaving the van behind and traveling by plane, train, or bus, that fixed cost is usually the greatest cost of your trip. So if you’re going to take that plane to Spain, make it worthwhile. And if you only have a week or two to spare, consider a shorter trip closer to home.

Saving money is a huge perk of slow travel.

Photo by Matt Swartz @van.project

Photo by Matt Swartz @van.project


Relax: Travel can be exhausting, especially when you’re racing from place to place trying to see and do it all. Slow travel allows you to relax, reconnect with yourself and enjoy the beauty of doing nothing.

Get off the beaten path: It’s hard to find the “off the beaten path” places when you’re whizzing through a town or landscape looking for the highlights you read on Yelp. When you move slowly through a place and allow yourself to wander and get lost without the concept of time, you experience new cuisines, discover hidden trails, and explore local culture. This is where the unexpected happens and the beaten path disappears. Having a slow mindset allows you to be open and makes for much deeper experiences.


Live like a local: Shop at a farmers’ market, tour a museum, sip coffee at a mom-n-pop cafe. Take time to learn the rhythms of local life. You’ll get to know the place you’re visiting and get a feel for what makes it unique. When you go slow, you shrink the distance between you and the local community, and your experience is much richer for it.  

And when you shop locally, you’re also benefiting the local economy. Which brings us to the next one…

Give Back: There are many choices you can make when you travel to ensure you are giving back to the local community. Shopping locally is one of the easiest. Another is to donate what you don’t need. If you have clothes you don’t wear or seasonal gear taking up space in your van, give it to a family in need or donate it to a local charity shop.

One of the best and most rewarding ways to give back and uplift the local community is through volunteerism. Give your time at a local food bank, plant tomatoes at a community garden, help with an environmental awareness project. The possibilities are endless when you travel slow, keep an open mind, and are flexible with your time. It’s about leaving the communities you visit better than you found them.