I “travel fast” and don’t care what you think about it. Here’s why

Travel snobs often hate on people who travel quickly but here’s why I’m unapologetic about globetrotting at a breakneck pace– and think it has its advantages.

Oh, travel snobs. Bless their superior hearts. Their concerns about the way you travel are annoying and unwarranted.

For example, some hate on you because you don’t travel enough, or at all.

Others hate on you because, while you do travel extensively, it’s not “off the beaten path enough”.

Or luxurious enough.

Or budget-friendly enough.

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Playing tourist in Rio

Some travel snobs are mad because you count countries (“real” travellers don’t!), because you visit the most popular sights (we all know only *tourists* do that, not travellers), or because you didn’t sleep in a yurt on the summit of Mount Everest during a hail storm (you’re not a “hardcore traveller” unless you do).

Blech.

Well, I for one am over the judgement. Travel elitism irks me so much I made a video about it:

And in today’s post I’m going to address another aspect of travel many snobs love to gripe over: fast travel.

With slow travel (i.e. the art of savouring a holiday by staying in one place for at least a week, allowing you to explore it in more depth) becoming en vogue, some travel elitists poo-poo the idea of globetrotting at a rapid pace.

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72 hours in Bulgaria

An excerpt from this article on Independent Traveler explains the concept of slow travel– and why it’s supposedly superior to fast travel– better than I can:

“Rather than attempting to squeeze as many sights or cities as possible into each trip, the slow traveler takes the time to explore each destination thoroughly and to experience the local culture. Per the slow travel philosophy, it’s more important to get to know one small area well than it is to see only a little bit of many different areas — that way you’ll have something left to see on the next trip.”

While this statement isn’t altogether untrue, it’s the attitudes that can accompany it that I find problematic. Those who dash from place to place on their sojourns are considered gauche or uncultured,  or simply more concerned with quantity over quality. By whom, you ask? Top travel snobs who consider themselves authorities on travel, of course!

Above: That time I went to Eastern Europe and visited 5 countries in 9 days: Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, & Macedonia

Despite the travel hateration, I’m a huge fan of short, hectic trips that take me through cities and across borders quicker than I can say, “What time zone are we in again?”. Heck, after my mind-blowing round the world trip with Star Alliance (where I hit up 8 countries on 4 continents in 25 days), you can kind of say that fast trips are my jam.

Here’s why I think fast travel doesn’t deserve all the hate.

You make the most of the least

You may have a lot of wanderlust, but not a lot of vacation time (Americans, I’m looking at you). Fast travel often means that you plan a more effective and efficient trip overall, adding, deleting, and shaping your itinerary so it reflects your interests and respects your limited time. Travelling quickly also keeps me sharp and on my toes!

You don’t have to fully commit

So you booked a week-long trip to Pittsburgh… and now you’re mad as hell because two days into your stay you realize you hate it. Well, when you travel fast, you don’t have to fully invest time or money in a destination you’re not sure you’ll love.  By the time you realize x or y city isn’t quite your cup of tea, you’re already on the road again!

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A weekend in Rome with Ma Dukes and the Hubs

You get to sample, then return (if you like it)

On have 48 hours in Barcelona? Don’t lament, it’s a great taster.  Now that you know you it’s the bomb.com, you can plan for your return.  My initial visit to Paris back in 2003 (for a Justin Timberlake concert, ha!), sparked a love for the city that runs deep: I’ve been back over 10 times since.

There’s no time to get bored

Over the years of travelling I’ve realized that, unless a city is large (think Rio de Janeiro), I have friends there, or am there for a specific purpose, event or activity, I get restless after about three days. Blame my itchy feet! This is why I find travelling quickly so exhilarating: I’m hit with new sights, sounds, foods, people, and experiences almost daily.  It’s addicting.

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You beat the law of diminishing returns

Sometimes those extra two days in a place are no more effective than the first three: you squander one day away in your hotel room, dead to the world, and another answering work emails at that quaint cafe next door with the struggle wifi connection. The additional enjoyment from staying longer in a city may be marginal, so your extra days of vacation could be better spent exploring destinations unknown.

How I travel is my business

Yes, I blazed through the capitals of Lithuania, Sweden, Latvia, Finland, and Estonia in 8 days, only spent about 48 hours total in Iceland on an extended layover, and have done many other trips at breakneck speed. But I ask: why some folks so mad, though? I try to travel responsibly, don’t put myself in danger, and (most importantly) don’t ask anybody to fund or financially support my travels in any way. So why the heck are some people all up in my (your) grill?

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And look, I like slow travel, too. I’ve had loads of slow travel experiences: I spent four weeks exploring Guatemala, over four years living and working in Hong Kong, for example.

Bottom line: both styles of travel have their time and their place.

So live and let live. Live and let travel. Everyone has their preferences, deal breakers, and limitations.

So, travel snobs, let’s not shame people for doing what’s right for them, and instead applaud them for leaving their comfort zones in the first place.

Slower isn’t always better.

Are you a fan of fast travel? Or is travelling slower more your thing?

30 Comments

  • veena says:

    Oh my goodness, yes! I like both fast and slow travel, depending on where I’m going, why I’m going there, and if I’m going on my own or with friends. Both have their time and place, and I get so frustrated when people judge you for either. Everyone has their own travel style, and I say let people travel the way they want to travel. Just because it works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you, and vice versa. Thank you for posting this!

  • Amarachi says:

    You always hit the nail on the head!

    I love to travel fast too.. I love busy holidays where I am constantly on the move. Most times, I return home in need of a 1 or 2 day break!

    I also have a limited number of vacation days, so I’ll typically make the best use of the time I do have and lastly, I hate air travel, so when I fly all the way to a region, I’ll try to see as much as I possibly can in that area.
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  • Noelle says:

    I am definitely a fast traveler. Like you said, more than three days anywhere is usually more than I need (unless its a huge city). And having started my traveling life in the U.S., I wanted to stretch my vacation days as much as possible. I live in London now so much of my travel is done over weekends so I can avoid taking time off as well. I just do a lot of research beforehand of what are the top things I want to see and leave in some free time in case other things pique my interest as well.

  • Sam says:

    I’m sorry but they way you written this article is kind of insulting. If it bothers you so much, just ignore the haters. I wouldn’t even go on social media and post an article about it. Then you go around saying that “you don’t care about what you think about it”. Obviously you are writing out of anger, and I understand. But not everyone is going to agree with this. I am no longer following you. It doesn’t feel right anymore. So happy travels.

  • gsutiger says:

    I’m American – and get a very small amount of vacation time (I actually work in an industry with better vacation time than others).

    I will not give up fast travel until I have the vacation time to take it slow. Like Oneika stated – I have a wanderlust and if 48 hours is all I have to feed my travel addiction, then so be it.

    Besides, sampling never hurt anyone.

    Thank you for this!

  • Gurdish says:

    I covered 3 Belgian Cities – Bruges, Ghent and Brussels – in 4 days on my first ever trip there and loved taking the train and exploring a new city every morning. Love reading your Blog

  • Stacy says:

    Thank you for this! I’m a fellow fast traveler–partly because I have limited vacation time (yep, I’m an American) and partly because I am just not a lounging around on the beach or sitting in a café type of person. I need to be up and about doing things, whether I’m at home or on vacation.

  • Cicero said, “To each his own.”

    I guess travelers have to travel the way they most feel comfortable with, and what they are able to handle with regards to vacation times off in the country they live in.
    Most European countries have a healthier work-life balance which means more flexibility with regard to time off days especially for parents with young children.

    I’ve done fast travel previously and didn’t like it as much.

    I spent 3 days in Phuket as an example; Day 1 I got there, and my hotel room was a long drive from the airport, meaning that I was exhausted from the air-sick-car-sick combo, and when the waiters at the hotel suggested I see the beach, I was too swamped for that, so I passed.
    Day 2: Ferry to Ko Phi Phi island; spent the day snorkeling and lunching, got back to Phuket in the evening.
    Day 3: As am having a slow breakfast, the guy at the restaurant hurries me off because my shared taxi has come and has to pick several folks to head to the airport.
    As we drive past the beach I’m like, ” Oh man..the beach is stunners, why didn’t I make time to see it?” I realize that I hardly saw Phuket. It’s a bad feeling as I don’t know if I will ever get to Phuket again.

    I recently spent 3 days in Chisinau and find it regrettable that I wasn’t able to get to Cricova and sample the wine from the huge cellars? They were fully booked and it was impossible to get an english tour for the dates I requested..

    The above experiences helped me to lengthen my stays in destinations I visit. I may not get to see every corner of a country, but if I can do two cities really well, then I can tick the country off my list…and I have this habit of not returning to the same place twice..unless it’s to take a really cheap aka budget flight (Ryan Air, I’m looking at you.)

    Some countries are huge ie Ukraine, Romania..and are better sampled in sips. Some are really tiny ie Singapore…with a great transportation network meaning it is okay to see the whole place in a couple of days.
    Fast travel for me is exhausting and uncomfortable..given that sometimes I want to stretch my pennies further and end up taken long distance bus rides or night trains from city to city to country..so it wouldn’t make sense to leave a place yet I’ve spent a huge part of time just being on the road.
    I’ve also lost my passport once while I was in Kuala Lumpur and had to get to Singapore for the flight out, thankfully I was in KL for a week and a half, enough time to recover the passport..if I was zipping through countries when this happened..my itinerary may have been greatly affected.
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  • Ugh, travel snobs are the worst. I like traveling at a slower pace, but sometimes need to do “fast travel” out of necessity. And you know what? My fast trips were as awesome and meaningful as my slower ones! I definitely agree with your point that fast travel leaves no room for boredom, haha. 🙂
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  • christine says:

    I do both depending on how much time I have left on my vacation and what I’m in the mood for. You don’t have to contain yourself in one “box”. You do what you need to do. You don’t need approval from other people.

  • Ashley says:

    Amen! I learned a few years back that I am fast traveler. I haven’t run into any travel snob (yet) but I think travel is t one size fits all you should move at whatever pace is most comfortable for you.

  • Kim says:

    I like the points, especially re boredom. Girl that happened in Nairobi this summer and I just changed my plans and keep it moving. Do your thing and as you say it is a great way to know where you want to hit up again and where to miss…

  • Stacey says:

    I’m a fan of all travel. Fast, slow, medium, long, short…I’m happy as long as I’m getting out and about and I get excited for others when they get to do the same no matter how they choose to.

    Your ‘law of diminishing returns’ point really rings true. We think we have all the time in the world if we stay some place too long and then miss out. I like to see lots of things, hit up the “touristy” places (if they are of interest to me), and I count my countries with a smile.

    Yep, live and let live. Travel and let travel.

  • I used to be all about fast travel and could relate to many of your points above. As I get older, though, I’m finding that I can’t maintain fast travel like I used to. Case in point: I was on 7 planes in 12 days in June/July and I was EXHAUSTED by the time I got back to New York. I can’t keep up like I used to, nor do I always want to, so I find that I have to mix and match the fast travel with some in-between travel and, when there’s time, some slow travel.

  • I’m such a fast traveler because of my attention and well, I’m one of those Americans with such little time off. Unless the world closes, I can always return to a destination.
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  • Ali says:

    Yeah, it’s totally up to your personal preference, and people should really stop being snobby about travel. I often encourage people to slow down their pace they ask me about their itinerary and it’s so jam packed, I can tell they’re going to spend more than half their time on trains and planes. But if you want to spend 2 days in a city instead of 4? Sure, go for it, like you said, you can always come back another time if you really like the city. I prefer a different pace when I’m traveling solo vs when I’m traveling with my husband. When I’m with him, I like traveling a little slower because we relax in cafes and talk and people-watch. But when I’m solo, I get a little restless traveling too slowly, and I need to keep busy, so I go a little faster. Country counting…YES! It’s fun for me. I don’t think I’m better than someone who has been to fewer countries, and I don’t think I’m a bad traveler for wanting to know how many countries I’ve been to. I think the counting is a personality thing, I do it with lots of stuff, not just the number of countries I’ve been to. Anyway, yes, travel in a way that makes you comfortable, and don’t worry what other people think!
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  • Tina says:

    As a new traveler I can relate to feeling shamed about postings I made in travel groups after trips. One being a NYC trip (which I loved) but apparently wasn’t worthy to be posted along with side all the amazing abroad trips! And a trip to London which received such comments as “you hit all the tourist spots, next time try to get the REAL experience.” And I thought both trips were absolutely awesome!

    • Mel says:

      I’d love to know what their idea of ‘real experience’ of London is? As someone who’s lived in London, worked in London and visited it as a tourist I have no idea what they’re talking about. Everyone’s experience is different depending on circumstances. London has so many amazing tourists spots why wouldn’t you visit them? Loads of Londoners certainly do! I’m really glad you enjoyed your trips that’s the most important thing 🙂

  • Kai says:

    My biggest hurdle is knowing how to plan a trip and what to do once i get there. for example i wanted to go to Belize but no clue how to make the most of the trip

  • Alyssa says:

    I’ll spend any length of time abroad that I can! But I suppose I take more of an attitude of slow travel, mostly because I like to feel at home. Sometimes I just like watching a bit of Netflix (introvert alert!) without the pressure of ‘you should be out there’. I spent two (rainy) days in Strasbourg mostly reading in my hostel and eating Pizza Hut (I also went to a restaurant on a boat and the botanical gardens). It’s not slow travel length, but more the feeling (though this 7 day minimum to ‘get to know a culture’ is arbitrary and silly – someone really smart said about culture that “knowing [connaissance] is being born with”).

    Anyhow, as long as you’re not harming anyone, it shouldn’t matter how (long) you travel!
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  • Joseph says:

    I’m so here for this…I’m actually gearing up for a world wind tour of china starting with a layover in Ibstanbul, then two nights in HK (will be visiting out friend in common Marlynne), then off to Beijing for two nights, then Shanghai and back HK for my departure. I will see most of the popular Chinese sites in one week! This is because I want to maximize this trip. I always say I want to return but my wanderlust will always seek out a newer destination. My blog has a lot of my personal stories similar to yours. Check it out!

  • Adrienne Lee says:

    Like you, I’m OVER haters – not just travel haters, but ALL haters. We’re all different with very individual tastes. People with sense realize that and don’t waste time criticizing others for the way they travel. I’ve traveled for more than 30 years and I’ve traveled fast….and slow. Much has depended on the season of my life at the time. My pace as a single or business traveler was completely different from my pace as a young wife and mother. Now as a retiree my pace is whatever…whenever. I just do what suits me at the time. There’s so much world to see, I’ve gotta do ME.

  • ‘Love this post Oneika!

    I’m both, depending on whom I’m travelling with, and where!

    If I’m travelling solo, I prefer to go really fast. After all, it’s just me. And when I’m done, or wanting to go to that gallery or that shop, ready to move countries, or simply change direction, I do just that!

    For example, I was in Brittany (France), a couple of years ago where I had rented a house by the sea. On discovering that Jersey (UK Channel Islands) was just a ferry ride away, I decided to hop on a ship and do just that! When I went to Wales with hubby and discovered that there was a ferry going to Ireland, my eyes sparkled (yesss! let’s go to Ireland again, I thought.) My husband, not so much. So we stayed in Wales!

    When I travel only with my son, I travel half and half. He’s a great traveller so we’re able to move faster, and go local, but I put in larger breaks ‘cos by 6 or 7p,m, he just wants to have some dinner, and “chill!”

    If I’m with my German husband, I slow right down as he prefers to spend between 3 to 5 days in a single destination, stay at higher quality hotels, eat at better restaurants, and basically do classier things! And that’s perfectly alright too!
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  • Anne says:

    Haters gonna hate. You just have to ignore them.
    I agree with your conclusion, both styles of travel have their time and place. I also agree with others who mentioned the size of the country matters. That goes beyond the speed issue, IMO, it’s about what you actually do there. If all you do is hop out of the airport for a couple of hours during a connection, I really don’t think it counts as actually “visiting”.

    A few years ago, we did that in Amsterdam. We had 12 hours in between flights, so we went sightseeing in the city. I think we’ve seen and sampled enough for our needs 😉 so I guess you could say we traveled fast there. I just don’t consider that as a proper visit to Holland.
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  • Oh I just love your article! I also travel fast and I enjoy it so much! We are the only ones who are able to decide what’s better for us.
    Moveover, I like all your articles, your blog is great!

  • Heather says:

    I like to have on average 2-3 days in any region or city, but sometimes that doesn’t work out. There are no guarantees in life, and if I am in a country that has a lot to see and I only have a little time, then I might have to cram more in than I would usually prefer, because who knows if I will ever make it back.

    I don’t count countries, because sometimes I like a country so much I DO go back for more.

    Sometimes I go on the beaten track and sometimes I go off of it.

    People should do what makes them happy with their own time and money.

  • Heather says:

    HEATHER
    NOVEMBER 6, 2016 AT 9:16 PM
    I like to have on average 2-3 days in any region or city, but sometimes that doesn’t work out. There are no guarantees in life, and if I am in a country that has a lot to see and I only have a little time, then I might have to cram more in than I would usually prefer, because who knows if I will ever make it back.
    I don’t count countries, because sometimes I like a country so much I DO go back for more.
    Sometimes I go on the beaten track and sometimes I go off of it.
    People should do what makes them happy with their own time and money.

  • I totally agree: everyone can travel as he likes! As long as you’re curious and you’re eager to know the place you’re visiting I appreciate every kind of travel: on a budget, not on a budget, slow, fast, off the beaten path, on the path… For me it really depends on the place: for cities like Rome, Paris or London I tend to stay at least 5 days and then I always want to go back to see more things, but I would get tired if I had to spend 10 days of my precious holiday in the same place.
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