Cassie De Pecol. Otherwise known as the first woman to visit every country in the world, or 196 sovereign nations to be exact. And she did it all in just over 18 months. Massive Kudos. I should be thoroughly impressed but in fact what she did kind of annoyed me. Sure, she managed to see the whole world. Yet she missed out on the opportunity to get to know each country properly. For me, that's what travelling is all about. I have come up with the complicated mathematical equation: Slow travel > Fast travel. Let's get into it.
Getting to know a country well
“I want to go on holiday to somewhere where there’s lovely weather, but somewhere not too hot that I can’t sleep at night. Somewhere that’s very inexpensive but it still must have excellent hygiene standards and good infrastructure. Somewhere culturally different, but where I can stay in a nice 4* hotel and not experience what the locals do. And if everyone could speak my language too that would be great, as I hate language barriers.”
Going on a package holiday to Tenerife, staying in a fancy hotel on an all-inclusive package and only interacting with tourists and staff is nice but by no means what travelling is all about. Doing this doesn’t teach you anything about what the country or its people are like. What do they eat? What festivals do they celebrate? What religious/spiritual beliefs do they have? If you're travelling just to get a tan, drink all night on a boat, or check in on Facebook, by all means go ahead. But if you'd like to learn a bit more about the country, why not stay a bit longer, hang out with locals, venture down the less touristy streets and learn a few words of their language. Join a local meet up. Ask a local person where they like to usually go to eat/drink/shop. This can be the hostel receptionist, an AirBnB host or an employee in a local restaurant. Of course, if you're working while travelling, then this is even easier.
Exposing yourself to various cultures is so vital towards personal growth.
Moving and time costs
It is said that it takes 21 days to get used to a new surrounding. Constantly moving from city to city, or country to country, is not my cup of tea. It’s tiring, it’s time consuming and it’s costly. I’ve seen people, who have travelled the whole of Vietnam in two weeks, visiting many cities but knowing none. You’re only going to be able to travel this way for so long before you experience burnout, or run out of money. Why not settle in one place (I know this goes against the traveller's inner desire to discover new places) and then do a week or month long trips to these places? This way you also won't have to carry your entire wardrobe on your back.
Hitting all the tourist spots
“So if we wake up at 8am and have a quick breakfast, finish taking photos at the first famous temple by one, then we can squeeze in generic tourist attraction number two in the afternoon”.
I know so many people, who don’t enjoy themselves while travelling. They see tourist attractions as a mission. The reward? A dopamine rush resulting from the approval of strangers on social media. This “achievement” often comes at the expense of enjoyment. I like to pick two or three things that I would like to see/do by the end of my stay. But it’s important to relax and too. Sleep-in until noon if that’s what you want. Eat tasty food. Find a hipster café. Get lost. Explore the less touristy parts of the city. Go shopping. Drink some sake. Jog in the park. Why stop doing the things you love, just because you’re abroad? You do you.
Making friends and finding a community
The one con about travelling is having to leave behind your friends, family and loved ones. The benefit is you get the chance to meet so many new ones. When you find yourself in a community of like-minded people – those who want to work online, enjoy a work-life balance and travel long-term – then you don’t have people constantly entering and leaving your life abruptly. You get to form meaningful and lasting relationships with people. There’s only so much small talk one can endure. Digital Nomads know this. This is why co-living and co-working spaces are becoming so much more popular among location independent workers. So if you could find this community, work and live with a small group of friends, and do activities and trips together in your spare time too? Well that would be fairly magical.
Laura is co-founder of My Travel Tribe, a start-up that runs month long programmes combining co-working, co-living and lifestyle activities, ultimately helping female digital nomads to find their own community while travelling.
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