Taking it Slow – Discovering my Travel Style
“I’ll rest when I get to Bali,” I told my mom.
It was late July. I was working on selling the last of my belongings and moving out of my apartment, and I had just given six weeks’ notice at my job. Over the previous months I had worked relentlessly to save money for my upcoming year of travel. I worked two jobs, took on more responsibility at my primary job to earn more money, drove for Uber, rented out my apartment on AirBnb, and slowly had been selling off all my worldly possessions.
Needless to say, I was tired. Aside from my demanding job I was on “go mode” constantly; I had been for a while, and the next few months were not going to be any different. Hell, I took a flight to Washington, D.C. the day after my last day of work! I literally could not wait to start traveling.
My first seven weeks of travel consisted of moving at lightning speed from Colombia to Los Angeles, up the east coast of Australia (seven cities!), and around the northern island of New Zealand. I rode horseback through the Colombian countryside, went rafting through the glow worm caves in New Zealand, snorkeled and dove in the Great Barrier Reef, and much more. Those first seven weeks were a whirlwind adventure, and although I don’t regret any of those experiences, I would probably do it a bit differently if given the chance.
By the time I landed in Bali in mid-November I was sick with a cold and utterly exhausted. The first four days I got a private room and basically did nothing but rest, as planned. After that I went to the Gili Islands and spent five nights relaxing on Gili Air and Gili Meno before heading to party island Gili Trawangan. After a couple nights of partying, it was back to the chill vibes of Gili Air and then a few nights at a yoga retreat in Canggu.
It was not until I spent a few days in Ubud, though, that I realized the importance of slow travel. I was just going to stay two days, and I ended up staying over a week. I had made good friends who were also staying, it wasn’t as crowded and touristy as other parts of Bali, and I was content. I stayed until I had to fly out when my visa was expiring. I enjoyed exploring Ubud and the surrounding areas without being rushed or pressured to see and do everything in a few days. It was nice to just relax and enjoy myself without too many expectations.
Since that week in Ubud, I have made taking it slow my go-to travel style. Almost everywhere I have been since then I have stayed at least 5-7 nights. I even spent five weeks in the tiny hippie mountain town of Pai, Thailand at one point!
A few weeks into my time in Pai, I had a flight to Myanmar booked, but something didn’t feel right about it. I just wasn’t ready to leave Thailand, so I delayed my trip. A good friend I made in Pai used her lyrics on me – “just because you’ve got a ticket going somewhere, doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind” – to remind me that just because I had that flight booked, I didn’t have to go. If staying in Pai a little longer felt right, then that was okay.
For me, slow travel means going with the flow and not planning too much ahead; giving yourself time to just be, and not having every day crammed with activities, trying not to miss anything. It means opening your heart to truly experiencing a few places, instead of hastily checking everything in every destination off your list.
When I started this blog I thought I needed to go everywhere and see and do everything, for the sake of blogging and posting on social media, and I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. But I didn’t start traveling so that I could have a travel blog, I started traveling because it is something that I wanted to do for myself. I have accepted the fact that, although I wanted to see all the countries in Southeast Asia, it just was not going to happen on this trip, and that’s okay. Asia will always be there, and I will definitely be back.
I have now started the European leg of my round-the-world trip, and only have today planned. For now, I am going to sit back and relax on the train as I watch the Spanish countryside roll by. When I arrive at my next destination I might grab a cappuccino at a quiet café, or maybe I’ll go do some cool activity I can post about on Snapchat. Maybe I’ll book a bus or a train or a flight, but I’ll most likely just see where the wind blows me. Anything is possible when you’re taking it slow.