Sure, not everyone has the time to travel slowly. Generally, with just a few weeks of vacation time annually, most family vacations end up being relatively quick trips, where you try to fit in as much as possible. This is completely understandable... Hey, I worked for corporate America for almost 10 years, and even though my company's vacation policy was above average, this is what many of our vacations were like. So I know the idea of slow travel is easier said than done, but as we've learned from all our travels this year, slow traveling rocks. Here are our four simple reasons.
Why Slow Traveling is Awesome
1. Much more affordable - While it's contrary to what you may think, slow travel can actually be much, much cheaper than action packed quick vacations, especially when it comes to accommodations. With services like airbnb, Homeaway, VBRO, and the likes, it is very easy to find a place to stay that feels like a proper home, with a kitchen, washing machine, and all towels and sheets included. Most people who want to rent out their homes for a longer term generally offer a significantly lower rate for monthly (and to a lesser extent weekly) vs. nightly. Would you believe that our entire 1 month stay in a 4 bedroom house with a pool, 30 minutes from Malaga and the magnificent Costa del Sol beaches, costs only a little more than twice what we paid for a relatively inexpensive hotel in Madrid for 4 nights?!! Sure, there are plenty of expensive monthly rentals too, but you can find some amazing deals out there with a little bit of research, especially if you don't mind staying a little outside of a city. Eating is also much more affordable, but more on that in #2.
2. Healthier, better eating - Because you are not constantly moving from place to place, you have time to cook most meals. If you are staying for a while, you don't feel bad about spending money on groceries that are not necessarily used up in just 1 meal (like oil, spices, salad dressing). Eating at home is also much healthier than constantly eating at restaurants, and you will have delicious leftovers. When you travel slowly, you still get to enjoy the local food, but you are not forced to eat every meal out. Again back to #1, this results in saving a lot of money. Our family of 4 can eat like kings at "home" for the fraction of the price of eating at a restaurant.
3. It will allow time to explore, "soul search", and give kids time to be kids and play - Since we travel with 2 young kids, it is very important for us to have "off" days, in which they are just allowed to play and not worry about "where are we going today?". This has allowed our kids to bond with each other a lot. We often hear them come up with very silly games and giggle away (yes they fight too, but that's all part of bonding, isn't it?)
These "slower" days also afford them the time to discover the things they like to do. Kian's recent interest is designing costumes for his little sister out of paper, and she doesn't mind being a little model and trying them on. a
And yes, when you travel slowly as a family, not only do mom and dad have more time together, but we also have time to "soul search" and focus on personal goals too, such as working on learning new skills and gaining new knowledge (thank you internet!!). We are finally having time to focus on things we've wanted to for a long time, but the hustle and bustle of real life always ended up getting in the way.
Through this slow traveling, we have had time to also realize more what we like and what we don't like. For example, there was a time I thought I could totally live in an apartment in NYC (I do love NYC restaurant and the theater scene), but after living in Barcelona for a month I have realized that city living is far from not only what I want, but from what the entire family enjoys. We love to have wide open spaces for hiking (lots and lots of hiking), clean air for breathing, and quiet nights for sleeping :) [Note: this does not mean we did not enjoy our time in Barcelona, because it is absolutely an amazing city, but it does mean we would not want to live permanently there or any other big city].
4. Enough time to properly bond as a family - In a typical family vacation, it is common for everyone to be so eager to visit different sights and check out restaurants that you end up not really spending proper time with your family (this is not intended to mean that you don't still make great memories while on this kind of vacation). From personal experience, I can tell you that on the days that we are rushing around to see different towns, or have packed itineraries for the day, there is rarely time to take it all in because we are in that go go go mode. On our "off" days, on the other hand, this totally changes because we have time for family game night, we have time to play tickle monster before bed, we have time to enjoy beautiful sunsets as we eat dinner, and we have time to star gaze.....
That wraps up our reasons for why we love slow traveling, though really there are countless more.
Tell us why you think slow traveling would work for your family? Do you agree with our reasons? Would you travel slowly if you had the chance, or do you prefer to cram in as many sights as possible within your allotted vacation time?