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Fast-paced travel just isn’t our style!

Fast-paced travel just isn’t our style!

You know what? Short trips can totally suck. Sure, the experiences you have are still fantastic, but believe us when we say that there’s also a lot to hate about shorter holidays!

We’ve written previously about why we’ve chosen long-term travel over the standard 2-4 week vacation each year and the week we spent in South East Asia recently simply reaffirmed that decision. Traveling slowly is going to provide us with much greater enjoyment on our travels and bigger rewards at the conclusion of our journey.

That’s not saying that we didn’t enjoy our time in Singapore and the Philippines (quite the contrary!), but 7 flights in 7 days staying at 5 different hotels/hostels was just way too much over a short time-frame! Here were the major downsides of our fast-paced traveling style:

The costs add up quicker!

Plane Propeller

7 flights aren't cheap, even if you're flying on smaller planes like this one!

Even though we were flying budget air carriers, the cost of 7 flights in 7 days added up significantly! When you’ve got a set time-frame for your travels, your choice in transportation modes is extremely limited, particularly when you have to be somewhere on a certain day like we had to for my parents’ Filipino wedding. As a result, we spent a lot more than we wanted to on airfares and accommodation and were at the mercy of our schedule.

Our discovery: Traveling slower keeps your costs down – transport options are greater (and cheaper as a result) and you can definitely save money on accommodation the longer you stay in the one place.

Things are more likely to go wrong and affect your plans

We nearly learned this the hard way – if one of your flights happens to be cancelled or severely delayed then you’re pretty much screwed! Even in the best case scenario, you miss a few hours of your precious vacation time and can go on and enjoy the rest of your holidays. But as we said, worst case scenario nearly became a reality for us!

After arriving at Darwin Airport on our way to Singapore, we had 90 minutes until our connecting flight. Unfortunately Darwin decided to turn on the lightning, stranding us on the tarmac for nearly an hour! Surely our connecting flight would be delayed, right? Wrong! We finally got off our first plane and realized that the boarding gates were closing for our next flight and we were being paged over the airport’s PA system. Fortunately we made our flight but had we missed it, our entire week’s plans would have been in disarray!

Our discovery: When traveling on a highly organized vacation, one single problem can result in major inconvenience for the rest of the holiday! Always have a Plan B where possible to avoid stress and panic. And don’t assume that the airline will wait for you even if you have a connecting flight!

We were constantly on the move

Rucksack Inn Wall

Spending just 1 night in each hotel/hostel isn't enough!

When you have 6 nights accommodation in 5 different locations, you just don’t have time to get settled anywhere! It becomes a boring, repetitive routine – arrive, unpack, explore for a few hours, sleep, pack, depart. Doesn’t sound like much fun, eh? It wasn’t, let us tell you. We’d much rather spend a minimum of a couple of nights in each place and this is a rule we’re going to stick to on our round-the-world trip.

Our discovery: Long-term travel allows you to settle in and really have time to explore and discovery what a destination has to offer. But even if you’re on a short vacation, slow down! Try to spend at least 3 nights in each destination.

We were always tired

Trying to squeeze as much as possible into a short time-frame really takes it toll after just a couple of days and we were totally exhausted. After 4 nights in budget accommodation and arriving back into Singapore after midnight, we decided to upgrade our accommodation to a nicer hotel for one night just so we could get a decent night’s sleep and recharge the batteries. Definitely one of the best decisions we made all trip!

Our discovery: Rest days are extremely important! And when necessary, go ahead – splurge and upgrade your accommodation! Hostels are great for the budget, but being kept awake until 4am by the karaoke bar next door isn’t!

Keeping a schedule is overrated

Marina Bay Sands from below

The faster you travel, the more you miss out on!

This was probably the biggest downside of the way we traveled! Even though we tried to be as flexible as we possibly could, when you only have a few spare hours in one place then you’re definitely gonna want to be ticking things off a list. Unfortunately, you miss out on so much – for example, we got to see Marina Bay Sands in Singapore but just didn’t have time to go up and check out the SkyPark which is something we really wanted to do.

Our discovery: Having plenty of flexibility in your schedule is crucial. You need to find time to do what you really want to do (and also allow time for the unplanned!).

Do you prefer squeezing as much as you can into your itinerary? Or are you like us and prefer to travel slower so that you have time to really enjoy and connect with your destination?

Flickr Photo: framestealer

29 Comments

  1. Posted May 12, 2011 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    At some point, I hope I get to really do some slow-paced travelling where I can really connect with a location. So far, most of my travels have been more of the “wham-bam thank you ma’am. Do you have a t-shirt and a fridge magnet for sale” type…but I do still try to make the best of it!
    Brett recently posted..American Craft Beer- Jack Russell Brewing Company in Camino- California

    • Posted May 12, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      The good thing is that I don’t even think you need that long to connect with a location! We spent 10 nights in Bali in 2007 and that was nearly the perfect amount of time to mix activities with relaxation. Love the way you described your travels, replace the t-shirt/magnet with a shotglass and it’s how our last few trips have been. Hope you can do some slow-paced traveling at some point!

  2. Posted May 12, 2011 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree more. Indeed, that’s the primary reason I’ve now opted to MOVE to Southeast Asia, so I can slowly explore that corner of the World.
    [email protected] recently posted..Random Photo Memory- Mothers Come in Many Flavors

    • Posted May 12, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Moving to Southeast Asia? That’s awesome Dyanne! You’ll definitely have ample time to explore such an awesome part of the world.

  3. Posted May 12, 2011 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    I definitely agree with this post. Fast travel makes me really run down and grumpy. However, I only went to Vegas for two nights and felt like I had the perfect amount of time there.
    Mariah recently posted..ecotourists are not your friends

    • Posted May 12, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      You make a good point Mariah – you don’t need to spend a long time in some destinations. That’s why being flexible is so important!

  4. Posted May 12, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    TOTALLY prefer slow travel, which is what we normally do. Don’t get me wrong, I love our trip and our adventures this year, but we’ve never done a megatrip like this and it gets so tiring. Looking forward to getting back to being “expats” so we can relax and indulge in one place for awhile.
    Andrea recently posted..Wandering Around Old Colonia Town

    • Posted May 12, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      I guess you could technically call our RTW trip a megatrip as well but we’re gonna be sure to allow plenty of rest days and hopefully we’ll be able to find a place to settle for a month or two along the way!

  5. Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    We’re definitely huge fans of slow travel. Looking back on this past year of traveling in a motorhome, we much preferred the times we stayed somewhere for a week at a time rather than just a night or two. Too much moving is exhausting!

    Now we’re heading abroad and planning to find short-term flats we can rent on a 1-2 month basis. My hope is that we can relax and have more time to enjoy the places we’re at. :)
    Christy recently posted..Saying Farewell to Mayhem

    • Posted May 12, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      Too much moving definitely is exhausting! With that said, your RV adventure still looked like great fun and you’ve inspired us to try paddleboarding! Was there anywhere else on your route that you think we definitely should check out?

      With that said, 1-2 months in each place sounds even better! :)

  6. Posted May 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I am a fast paced traveler – simply because I don’t have the time off from work. But given the choice, I’d rather take it slow.

    • Posted May 12, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately fast-paced is sometimes the only option (as we just found out!)…

  7. Posted May 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Oh I know for sure I am slow paced traveller. I really like to get the feel of a place and even spend a few days doing nothing. I absolutely hate the fact that I am moving every 3-4nights from place to place but now that I have less than a month to get to Cancun for my brothers wedding I have too. I know for sure on the 2nd leg of my trip after Europe I will slow way down!!!
    Jaime recently posted..Photo Round Up – Week 10

    • Posted May 12, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      We totally can’t wait to spend days doing absolutely nothing! 3-4 nights is probably the minimum time you want to spend in each place

      We would love to spend months in each place, but unfortunately money doesn’t grow on trees and visa restrictions make this difficult (90 days US visa, 90 days Schengen visa) but SE Asia seems like the best (and cheapest) place to travel slowly so we’ll probably wait until we get there to really slow way down!

  8. Posted May 12, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    I agree on all counts. Costs more and you sacrifice quality for quality. But to each their own. For people who want a taste of many countries in a short time frame, it works for them. That’s why Contiki tours and cruise ships do so well.
    Roy | cruisesurfingz recently posted..British Airways- Great Airline To Get Shitfaced On

    • Posted May 12, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      Definitely! Contiki and cruise ships suit a lot of people because they get to see plenty of countries in 2-4 weeks, tick things off their to-do lists and take photos at the tourist attractions.

      I do see the benefits of them (and we may do one someday) but it’s just over way too quickly!

  9. Posted May 12, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you guys 100%, although I’ve never had a tight schedule cause any problems like missing a flight (thankfully) I just hate not having enough time to explore a place well! I like to relax throughout the day sometimes instead of being on the go all the time so it’s hard to do that when your time is limited because you have so much to see!

    Even on our upcoming trip in the States we have a lot of unplanned time but I feel like I’m going to end up rushing around to do everything and have to cut some things short.
    Annie recently posted..Cliffs of Moher- Ireland

    • Posted May 12, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

      The biggest regret we have when leaving a destination is if we’ve missed out on doing something we really wanted to do. We don’t want to miss out on anything on our RTW and also want to have time to relax and take it easy! It’s gonna be a challenge, but looking forward to it. :)

  10. Posted May 12, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    I much prefer slow travel. I’m spending four months in Latin America and people here in Sydney keep marvelling at how long it is. Personally, I think it’s much too short – after spending a year travelling last year and spending up to ten days or more in some places, I have no idea how I’m going to fit everything in to just four months!
    megan recently posted..Getting drunk on the road to Kathmandu

    • Posted May 12, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      Completely agree Megan – we would love to spend a few weeks in most places we visit but unfortunately it’s just not possible most of the time! Good luck fitting everything into four months, we’re facing a similar dilemma with our time in the US and squeezing everything in.

  11. Posted May 12, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    I’m a fast paced traveller, same as Ben. Because I work during the week and only have my weekends free, I need to make the most of them to experience Europe.
    As long as the 2-3 day trips you plan don’t attempt to take in too much at once, they feel as relaxed and laid back as a 5-6 months trip (or any other slower paced trip).
    Justin Morris recently posted..Featured Photo – Venice

    • Posted May 12, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      Weekend getaways probably fit into a different category for us – we would be doing the exact same thing in your situation to see everything Europe has to offer!

      The fact you’re living and working in the UK is a trip within a trip itself though, right? :)

  12. Posted May 12, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree more. I am such a fan of slow travel for all the reasons why you didn’t like your short trips. Slow travel is a luxury I don’t get to come by often, but I take my time living here in Spain as really getting to know a country/culture.

    • Posted May 12, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

      Slow travel really is a luxury… we feel pretty privileged to be able to do what we’re gonna do! Living in another country is something we really want to do one day, I don’t think there’s any substitute for experiencing another country/culture.

  13. Posted May 13, 2011 at 4:17 am | Permalink

    I completely agree with all of your points, especially being tired and always on the move. Plus, I feel like you have the opportunity to get to know a place and the people if you spend more time.

    Even if I only have 1 week or 2 weeks to get away, I will no longer do the whirlwind trips. I’d much rather explore one city than spend most of my time in transit, stressed out, and tired.
    The Travel Chica recently posted..Discovering Kentucky in Buenos Aires

    • Posted May 13, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Agreed! We would much rather spend 1-2 weeks in just one (or possibly two) cities than do what we had to do ever again!

  14. Posted May 13, 2011 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    Love slow traveling (took me about 7 weeks to get from Cairns to Brisbane!) but now that I am back in the US (and our crappy vacation time), that option as gone out the window. But I am still trying to adapt to it as much as possible. I am headed to Peru this summer and while I am going for about 15 days and there are tours that jam in tons for those 15 days, I am opting to do a mix of tours and independent travel and therefore only doing 2 touristy things instead of like 5 things I could have done on a tour.

    Less is always better!
    Rebecca recently posted..Airlines- VirginAmerica-Atlantic-Blue-Pacific Blue

    • Posted May 13, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      7 weeks from Cairns to Brisbane? Wow! That is nice and slow. :)

      I still can’t believe most people only get 2 weeks over there and here I am thinking that our 4 weeks in Australia per year isn’t enough! Good to hear you’re mixing it up in Peru though – sounds like the right way to go!

  15. Posted May 13, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    we found from day one that we can’t stand fast travel… stayingsomewhere for more than 4/5 days is considered fast travel!!! Most of the time is we like to take our time, have a few naps here and there you know, relax!!
    Kirsty recently posted..Songkran – the best fun we have had with our clothes on

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