Why Do We Slow Travel?

We love to travel, but we have neither the means nor the inclination to roam about the planet staying in 5-star hotels and eating in fine dining restaurants. What we do have, however, is something much more valuable: the luxury of time. 

Bertuah Fortune was our regular coffee spot in Kota Kinabalu Malaysia, where we were greeted warmly by Vic and team every day.

Beyond the checklist 

We like nothing better than getting to a village, town or city and settling in for at least a week (and sometimes even longer). When people ask us why we travel this way we talk about how travel for us isn’t about hitting as many tourist attractions as possible. It’s about having an immersive experience. While we may visit the occasional “must-see” sites, we’re really more interested in getting in tune with the rhythms of a place than in ticking off a checklist of iconic places “seen”. 

When it hits the spot

It often surprises people to learn that seeing something new isn’t always what we want. Nearly every time we settle at a location, we seek out what will become “our spot”.  Usually this is a favourite local businesses like a coffee shop or small eatery (often street food vendors).  We will return to them every single day.  Then we seek out the preferred bakers, fishmongers, and markets where we will become regular customers. We will stay loyal to these places for the entire length of our stay. 

Ronaldo and his mum treated us like family at Pasticeri Delight in Himare, Albania

Benefits of being a regular 

And why do we do this rather than try to sample as many places as possible? Because by becoming a “regular” we find that people really appreciate our business, as well as our interest in them and their culture. As a result we get treated extremely well, oftentimes receiving special treats and genuine affection during the course of our visit. During our long stay in Himare, Albania, our spot was a nearby coffee shop with strong wifi and excellent baked goods.  We went there every day for our morning cup of coffee and to get some work done. By the third day, they knew exactly how we liked our coffee and greeted us with warm welcoming smiles. Soon we were meeting the various family members that passed by the shop and were getting complimentary treats with our coffees. While the special treatment is always nice, it’s nothing compared to the genuinely warm smiles that greeted us everyday when we showed up!

Authentic cultural experiences 

There’s something else at play here. We often get accommodation with kitchens so that we can cook our own meals now and again. There are so many benefits to this. 

First, in most places (especially in Europe and North America) you can save a lot of money shopping for local groceries and preparing your own meals. 

Our daily visit to the fish monger was always a delight. He wanted to make sure we got the best of the days catch.

Second, it’s an incentive to pay attention to how local dishes are prepared and trying to replicate the techniques and flavour profiles ourselves. While it’s not always possible, we can take the lessons learned home with us and try again in our own kitchen (with access to our full pantry and range of herbs and spices).

And finally, it encourages us to get out and do market and local vendor shopping. There’s nothing more satisfying than shop owners getting to know you and, in spite of any language barriers, welcoming you like a local. We had just such an experience in Himare, Albania. The local fishmonger was an ethnic Greek and spoke not a word of English. But because we visited every second day during our three week stay he came to know us and ensured that we got the best of that day’s catch. And because he knew that we didn’t have all the tools available he’d scale and dress our fish for us free of charge. If he had some lemons or herbs on hand he’d add  them to our bag free of charge. It was awesome. The culture we were participating in wasn’t staged in a theatre production or behind museum glass, it was alive and we were part of it.

More relaxing 

Slow travel is the perfect cure for traveller burn-out. Those who are less able to travel or have no interest in it may roll their eyes at this privileged problem. However, loneliness and exhaustion take their toll on everyone, whether the circumstances are humble or luxurious.

Anyes taking a moment to get lost in thought.

Constantly changing hotel rooms, packing and unpacking, reorienting yourself, finding the nearest market or laundromat, figuring out a new train or bus, and constantly disrupted sleep patterns can take their toll. Even being settled and filling your days with busy itineraries can leave you in a state of information overload and road weariness as you race from one site to the next. Leave room for days where the most exciting events might be a long walk or bicycle ride, spending some time at the local gym, watching the world go by from a bench, or just hanging around your hotel and catching up with friends and family at home.

In Vietnam we met a young woman who was battling a wave of depression, surprised to be feeling so down in the midst of her adventures. It’s common to meet new travellers, confused and feeling guilty about their unexpected emotional struggle. As a foreigner, being abroad can make you feel disconnected from the world around you. Everyone is a stranger, you’re separated by language and customs, and nothing is familiar. Being greeted by someone genuinely happy to see you at a regular spot changes the entire feeling of a place. 

Travel burn out is a real thing.

Something as simple as eyes lighting up with familiarity when you show up brings home the importance of human connection, even when you aren’t able to communicate through language. It changes the emotions that rise up when we remember places like Himare. Rather than just recalling an iconic tourist site we’re emotionally connected to our experience meeting people – which is  something much more moving. 

Make meaningful connections

This provides the opportunity to actually make local friends.  As we got to know a dessert shop owner in Ipoh, Malaysia, our extended stay meant we could make plans on his day off to visit a local hiking trail, and join him and his wife for dinner. We were also able to befriend a gentleman who lived in the building we had a short-term rental in and regularly enjoyed evening drinks and long conversations. 

These connections are important opportunities to share our observations on local culture and gain some clarity, learn about how we are perceived as visitors, and understand political viewpoints that are regionally nuanced and sometimes drastically different than our own. 

Some of the friends we’ve made have stayed in touch with us for years. They become important reference points when reading something in the media about their countries or when researching further travel. 

We met Roxy and Tommy in Himare, Albania. They were in the early stages of their epic bicycle trip to Australia. One dinner later and we are now lifelong friends (see you guys in Canada soon!)


While it’s tempting to fall into the trap of “Well I’m here, I don’t know if I’ll ever be back, I should do all the things.”, we encourage you to look back over your memories. They don’t have to be of distant lands or unfamiliar cultures. We suspect that you’ll find, as we do, that your clearest and best memories involve people. The stories we tell most often about our experiences abroad are the interesting, and sometimes odd, interactions with people. The beautiful beaches, amazing museums, or fantastic dishes certainly hold a place in our memories, but a country and culture is defined by its people. 

We rented Kayaks from these gentlemen every other day for three weeks and chatted with them almost daily (oh, and bought them beer!).

Gratitude and Empathy

Trying to participate in the everyday life of the places we visit has given us a whole new perspective on immigrants and refugees.  Every task requires higher levels of concentration, your own home and ways start to feel like memories from a past life and sometimes you just want to go home. We have developed a great deal of empathy and patience for those who have made the brave and difficult choice to leave everything familiar and enter a new culture with a different language.  

And finally, and most importantly, slow travel allows us to take the time to reflect on our good fortune. Even though we are budget-conscious travellers (though not early-20s backpacker hostels and bread and cheese budget-conscious 😉) slow travel allows us to fully appreciate our circumstances. 

We’ve visited some extraordinary places and met fabulous locals and fellow travellers, all the while being able to enjoy the luxury of being able to stop and reflect deeply on our good fortune, often about what one would consider the most mundane things.

Celebrating a return home with a glass of bubbly in family heirloom flutes, while sitting by the fire place on our terrace.


For example, being able to flush toilet paper and enjoy an endless supply of hot water in the shower becomes a luxury fit for royalty. Coming home to a closet full of clothes after living happily on a few key garments really puts consumerism into perspective. We’ve gained new appreciation for having multiple rooms, furniture, and soft surfaces to sit on – things much of the world’s population lives without.

And that context, the sense of proportion and heartfelt gratitude, is the greatest travel gift of all.

More Ways To Savour Life


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We’ve been lucky enough to travel the world. Here we’ll share our discoveries, including practical information to help you plan you own tips. Many of our trips are focused around good food, rich culture, and spectacular nature. While we travel often, we do so on a budget, so you’ll find much of what we share within reach. Stop dreaming, start buying tickets!

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An Italian Slow Traveller. We met Chiara at an Eco resort in  the Mekong River Delta. She exudes wonder and joy, with a genuine appreciation of people, culture and landscapes. Oh, and she’s a great photographer. 

Wander Lush

This travel blog run by Emily Lush, originally from Brisbane, Australia. Travel writing is her full time job, with publications in National Geographic Traveller, Conde Nast and  Wanderlust Magazine.  She has lived in four different countries and visited 50 more. 


High-quality storytelling that inspires, empowers, and enriches travelers who care. They believe in the power of travel to make the world a better place through experiences that enrich the traveler personally, support the communities visited, and are sensitive to the effects on our planet. They believe in the importance of arriving in new places with humility and a desire to learn from others.



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