“Solo slow travel” means to travel by yourself, staying for weeks up to multiple months in a place. It does not mean that you can’t have visitors or make new friends, just that you’re not planning the trip together with someone else. You are not waiting for someone else to agree to a destination, time, or activity – you are free to make your own choices.
The difference between traditional tourism and slow travel
Traditional tourism often entails jumping from place to place, only staying for a maximum of a few days per city or destination. While it’s enough to go sightseeing, take some pictures, and visit some famous restaurants or bars, it’s not enough to really get to know a place.
Slow traveling, on the other hand, is the act of staying at a destination for long periods of time. It means staying for at least a few weeks, up to multiple months, or even a year or two – although at that time you might count as living somewhere.
Not everyone has the opportunity to travel and live like this, depending on your job situation, finances, and obligations such as children or pets. However, if you do have the opportunity, time, and resources to do this, I highly recommend it.
Slow travel is like mini-living somewhere
The benefit of slow travel is that you really get to know a city, like getting to know a new friend. You get familiarized with its streets, both the main ones as well as the small hidden pathways. You get to know the atmosphere of the city and the unique vibe of a place.
The longer you stay somewhere, the greater the chance that you make friends with someone local, or get familiar with the local food selection in grocery stores or how different seasons affect the city’s mood. Those experiences are unique to sticking around somewhere for a while.
It’s a very similar experience to living somewhere, to have moved abroad or to a new city. I remember reading the concept of “living mini-lives”, referring to the act of living in a new city for 1-6 months at a time. You get to choose a new life for yourself, where you want to live, how you want to dress, what your new routine will be like, and what type of people you want to socialize with. I personally really enjoy the concept of that – we all have the possibility to live multiple lives in one lifetime. It’s a wonderful experience.
The great benefits of traveling alone
Most people travel with their friends, family, or partners. Traveling together with other people has its own benefits such as sharing memories, lowering living and transportation costs, as well as feeling safer. However, it has its drawbacks as well.
Traveling with someone else means that you always need to account for the other person’s wants, feelings, needs, and moods. You might want to go visit different sights, do different activities, and eat different foods. While some may come to good compromises or decide to explore for themselves for the day, you can’t get away from those differences entirely.
When you solo travel, you will not need to compromise on anything. You can decide to get out the exact experience you wish for from your trip. It opens up an immense amount of unique opportunities and freedom.
Solo traveling can be compared to living alone. It might feel frightening if you haven’t done it before, it may cost more, and it may force you to become more independent. But once you’ve done it, and learned from it, you’ve gained so much more confidence, and strength, and experienced a much higher level of freedom.
In addition, the experiences you’ll have and the people you’ll meet will be wildly different. Imagine the difference between traveling with a group of friends and going out to a club together, as opposed to going to an event alone in a new city and being forced to talk to strangers. Chances are, that when you do things alone, you will experience many different outcomes.
Combining solo travel + slow travel
Solo slow travel can be compared to moving abroad or to a new city by yourself. Double the scare – double the freedom and independence. The world is literally your oyster, you are free to do exactly what you want. You decide where to travel, when, for how long, what to explore at your new destination, what activities and events to take part in, and which new people to meet.
Before doing it, it might feel very scary. But I promise you, as soon as you have set foot in your destination, you will forget all your worries. Just make sure to come prepared with a preliminary or long-term place to stay, money in case of emergency, and Google a bit beforehand on how the transportation systems work. The rest will work itself out.
It is an amazing feeling to stroll around in a new city, without a hurry since you’ll be staying there for a while, and just being able to enjoy doing whatever you want. Want to walk down that path? Go do it. Want to go try out a new club alone? Yes! Want to go to a meetup with other solo travelers? Let’s go!
Overcome fears of doing things alone
A lot of people have concerns about doing things alone in public, worried about what other people might say and think. While I can totally understand that, being in another country or city will help you since no one knows who you are, and you don’t recognize anyone else either.
However, it is also frankly a matter of choice on how you want to live your life. How much do you want other people’s opinions to dictate your life? And which life experiences are you willing to give up because of the fear of other people’s thoughts?
In a new place, where you don’t know anyone, no one will remember what you did. So what if someone sees you eating alone in a restaurant, standing alone in an art exhibition, or dancing alone at a club? Everyone is too busy minding their own business and caring about their own self-image. As long as you are having a good time, I bet people will be happy for you. I know at least I will be.
Believe me when I tell you that you are free, free to make your own choices in life, and brave enough to do what you want to do.