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The big debate - fast vs. slow travel

The big debate - fast vs. slow travel

Old Aug 31, 18, 1:31 am
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The big debate - fast vs. slow travel

Now, I'm by no means one to go for luxury travel, quite the opposite in fact, nor do I stay anywhere for a particularly long time. The longest I've spent in any country would be about 2 weeks in the US, 10 days in Uzbekistan and a week in Russia. On the flipside, I've ended up spending about 16 hours in Vietnam (more specifically, Ho Chi Minh, due to me making an error booking flights), a day crossing Cyprus, and half a day in China (Guangzhou to be exact) for one reason or another.

However, the length of time spent in a place seems to be subject to fierce debate in other forums/groups I've participated in previously, the general consensus is that one should spend LONGER in a place and see fewer places in a given time period as opposed to going to more places quicker which allows one to 'really experience and feel a new place' and other philosophical ideologies.

So, I ask dear FlyerTalk members - what is your preference? Fast or Slow travel?
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Old Aug 31, 18, 1:37 am
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More placetime.

Its a holiday, not an episode of The Amazing Race.

In in trying to see everything, you can end up truly seeing nothing.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 1:40 am
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Depends whether you want to “tick off” the attractions and get a selfie for Facebook or whether you want to get a bit more of a feel for a place.

Generally I’m more of the latter.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 1:59 am
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As I have got older (and less cash-strapped), I have moved more towards the relaxed end of the scale.

As a wide-eyed 20-something work-hard-play-hard type, I did a lot of tear-arsing around, spending one day here and half a day there, sleeping on trains and living by the seat of my pants, seeing as many different places as I could at the lowest possible cost in terms of cash and leave time.

It was a helluva lot of fun and I would change absolutely nothing about those experiences.

However now, as a 40yo semi-retiree with 5 free months each winter, the focus is more on relaxation and those 3-day-3-city races have become relaxed 4-week road trips with plenty of multi-night stops.

There are merits to both approaches. It's not just about what suits the individual. It's about what suits you at any particular point or situation in your life.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 8:02 am
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I did the same and I think many people who are against fast travel would be surprised how much I really did see and experience. Moved fast, slept little, had an absolute blast.

I've settled somewhere in the middle, though (well, middle for me, I'm not light-speed but certainly still a very fast traveler), and I do think it's all up to the person. I am not in my 20's anymore but certainly not old and still move pretty fast. I tend to get up and go and stay out pretty late. I still have to mind my time off so I try to find the perfect balance of time and experience. I'm not terribly good at just sitting around though. I was at a resort in Cabo just last year and while others were being lazy around the pool and sea, I walked around the property a lot, exercised, and looked for things to do. I was pretty bored, really. I guess I'm just not a person who finds relaxation away from home in doing nothing, I find it in having fun. I can relax on my sofa at home.

Last edited by MissJ; Aug 31, 18 at 10:22 am
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Old Aug 31, 18, 9:49 am
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I think I am an outlier. I traveled a lot for business. In those travels I often had a short period of time in a place for all sorts of reasons, flight schedules, missed connections and so forth. Plus I did a lot of crazy personal mileage runs, like leave NYC Friday night, fly to London, then leave London Sunday early-late afternoon.

So I looked on it as taking advantage of the times I had. I was flying JFK - FCO - BCN and missed the connection in Rome. The next flight was in 8 hours or so. I went down to the limo company area, walked in one and asked for a price for a chauffeur driven tour of Rome. Price was a round trip limo trip to a Rome hotel price plus some number of Euros per hour. So I had about 4 hours in Rome. Could I see Rome in four hours, of course not. But I saw a bit a of number of things and since I had never been there it was a blast. Likewise with a few hours on a Saturday afternoon in London. Can I see the Brit Museum in 3 or 4 hours. Nope, but I could spend some time with the Elgin Marbles or some special show at the museum. Or see "West Side Story" on the West end in London or a Da Vinci exhibit at Buckingham Palace in a few hours each. A couple years ago I had a free afternoon in Florence and two of my wife's cousins were in Rome at the time so I hoped a train to Rome and we took a tour of the Vatican Museum, had a late lunch and a few drinks and I headed back to Florence. You get the idea.

The longest vacation my wife and I have taken was three weeks or so. On that we went NY - London - Chennai - New Delhi - Agra - Jaipur - New Delhi - Columbo - Bangkok - Siem Reap - Hanoi - Halong Bay (including an overnight boat trip) - Ho Chi Minh City - Hong Kong - NY. Would I like to stay longer in places? Maybe. But I'll take what I can get, and it's been great fun and hugely enlightening.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 11:39 am
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I like to use every moment effectively, but I also don't like to switch hotels every day. I'd say in recent years, most trips involve us staying in one place for 3-4 days and doing a lot with each day. That gives us time to do a *lot*, both the well-known tourist attractions and more off-the-beaten-track experiences.

The only thing that forces us to stay a week in one place is the Marriott Travel Package. Our most recent destination for that was Barcelona, a town fully worthy of a week no matter how fast you move, how in-depth you want to go, or what your interests are. Although I've probably redeemed my final Travel Package, I'd go back to Barcelona for another 5-night Marriott/SPG stay.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 2:05 pm
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I like to have time to recover from the jet lag before I have to turn around and go back. So for leisure travel, I find two weeks is enough, usually with multiple points visited in that time.

For biz travel...well, most of the time I will not spend more than a week in a place, so by the time I feel like my body is adjusting, I am back out again.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 2:16 pm
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Some very interesting and balanced responses here, wonderful thanks for the input all!
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Old Aug 31, 18, 3:24 pm
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My preference is slow travel. It's one of the reasons I don't find cruises appealing. Too little time in port. Too much time on the boat.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 4:01 pm
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I have really started to like slower travel. I love spending a week in an interesting city. You wander around. Sunday's are especially fun to just spend it like the locals spend (especially in Europe where they know how to spend a Sunday). Just chilling in a city park or following the local crowds to where they are all headed. I like it during solo travel as I just do whatever I want.

There is something so relaxing about unpacking your suitcase for a few days in a hotel and not rushing around trying to hit every spot. I'll be back. And if I won't be back, I'll be someplace else fun.

Some of my favorite days on trips are where I wander with no agenda, no 'sights' to see. Wandering through neighborhoods, city parks, taking transit to interesting parts of the city just to see whats up. People watching. Beer gardens. Cafes. Naps.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 4:17 pm
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Originally Posted by bitterproffit View Post
I have really started to like slower travel. I love spending a week in an interesting city. You wander around. Sunday's are especially fun to just spend it like the locals spend (especially in Europe where they know how to spend a Sunday). Just chilling in a city park or following the local crowds to where they are all headed. I like it during solo travel as I just do whatever I want.

There is something so relaxing about unpacking your suitcase for a few days in a hotel and not rushing around trying to hit every spot. I'll be back. And if I won't be back, I'll be someplace else fun.

Some of my favorite days on trips are where I wander with no agenda, no 'sights' to see. Wandering through neighborhoods, city parks, taking transit to interesting parts of the city just to see whats up. People watching. Beer gardens. Cafes. Naps.

I too love walking in European cities. Some of my most enjoyable have been early Sunday mornings in Paris and London, and now that I think about I had a wonderful Sunday morning walk with friends in Tokyo.

But I’ve been trained by work requirements to act when I can. For about 5 years in a row I had to give a talk at a work meeting Wednesday morning then show up at another work function Thursday morning. Wednesday was outside Tokyo and Thursday morning in Florida. And then there were the mileage runs. I hated to do them without seeing something in the city I was flying to. My most common international MR destination was London. And a lot of times, not always, I had nothing planned. I would leave JFK on Friday and get to my room Saturday morning and open up Time Out London and see what’s happening. If nothing then go for a walk. Depends on the moments.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 4:19 pm
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"Days off" certainly are nice in many parts of the world and they are one thing I have definitely taken to in recent years. Not being under pressure to see everything because you only have one day does make a difference.

However, the one part of my fast-paced routine of previous years that I have retained is the short (often just under 24 hours) stopover. I love these because it allows me to see a new city at minimal cost and tend to use them for places I wouldn't necessarily consider as a stand-alone trip.

They also fit with the "slow travel" ethos, breaking up long flights and have occasionally inspired me to take longer trips.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 4:39 pm
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Originally Posted by GadgetFreak View Post



I too love walking in European cities. Some of my most enjoyable have been early Sunday mornings in Paris and London, and now that I think about I had a wonderful Sunday morning walk with friends in Tokyo.

I have an 8 day trip to Tokyo in October. I am going to spend the Sunday doing just that. Wandering in a park, going to a neighborhood, or just kicking around. I have only been to Japan once before and that was for work in the 80's. We had one jet lagged day to see Tokyo before I spent the rest of the week in some factory town in Gunma. So, I will enjoy these 8 days without too much stuff planned. I chose to stay in Tokyo/Yokohama and save Kyoto/Osaka for the next time.

Luckily, I get quite a bit of time off from work and can take these long relaxing trips.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 6:53 pm
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I actually have a fear of getting bored in some places. I'm not a foodie and most museums don't tickle my fancy. I'm more of a kinetic traveler. I try to visit as many places as possible, combining destinations (if on vacation) and working side trips into my business travel. I just spent 48 hours in Hong Kong with a few two hour naps. I went all over town, saw things I wanted to see as well as made a side trip to Macau. With around 40 hrs travel roundtrip I figured I could sleep on the plane.
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