In six years, I’ve lived in three different places. In that time, I’ve been able to travel across Europe, go island-hopping in the Caribbean, learn two new languages, and visit my family back home in the U.S. multiple times.
I don’t consider myself a digital nomad: I like the stability and security of having a place to call home. The only difference is that home is a very flexible term for me.
Slow traveling allows me to see my chosen destination in a way that I wouldn’t have seen it otherwise. While a one-week vacation to Spain might get you the highlights of some major cities, the five years I’ve lived here (four in the south and one in the north) have shown me what the country is really like.
No, I’ve never run with the bulls or danced flamenco. But I’ve made lifelong friends with the people here, developed a taste for the local foods, and learned Spanish to the point of being bilingual. Instead of getting a brief, tourist-eye view of the country, slow traveling has allowed me to become an almost-native.
But who says you have to retire before you can slow-travel the world?
I had hardly any savings when I left the States. But I’ve been able to fund six years of living and traveling abroad by working online. As a freelance writer, all I need to work is an inspirational setting and a solid internet connection. Thankfully, both are in full supply in many places around the world.
Having an online income means I can start work in the morning at my desk, then head to the nearest café for a café con leche (coffee with milk), laptop in hand. I might continue working there for a few hours, or I could leave my laptop at home and spend the rest of the day wandering the streets of the city center with my camera, capturing unforgettable scenes of ancient beauty.
The ideal part is that, while slow-traveling abroad, it’s easy to keep your expenses down. When in Bocas del Toro, Panama, my husband, Pep, and I lived in an apartment that cost just $400 per month, with internet included. Here in Pamplona, one of the more expensive cities to live in Spain, we rent a three-bedroom apartment for only $670 per month, and our food bill is always below $300.
With the income from our online work, we have plenty of cash to go on trips to destinations around Europe, dine out in the many fine restaurants here, or take a few weeks off and slowly explore some other part of the world.
The best part of slow travel is getting to call the world your home. Whether you spend a few months in an Airbnb or rent an apartment for a year in some beautiful European city, you get to be a part of the culture and life of the places you visit. A hotel could never offer you the same experience.
The way I see it, there’s no reason to wait if slow travel sounds like your dream life. With an online income like freelance writing, you can make a home out of wherever you happen to land.
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