As we stride confidently into the digital era, our notions of work and travel are rapidly evolving. No longer chained to a fixed location, more and more of us are embracing the freedom of the digital nomad lifestyle. We work from bustling city cafes, serene beach resorts, quiet mountain retreats, or anywhere else that we find inspiring and has a decent Wi-Fi signal.
But have you ever considered slowing down the pace of your nomadic journey to soak up more of the local ambiance? Enter the concept of “Slowmading.”
Slowmading is a blend of slow travel and the digital nomad lifestyle, emphasizing meaningful engagement with our destinations rather than treating them as a transient backdrop. It’s about savoring the journey, digging deeper into the culture, building lasting relationships, and balancing work with a healthy dose of local life.
In this article, we’ll explore why slowmading is more than just a buzzword—it’s a philosophy that can enrich your life and work as a digital nomad. We’ll delve into the whys and hows of slow travel, sharing actionable tips and tools to help you transition smoothly into this fulfilling lifestyle.
Why Choose Slowmading?
In the fast-paced world we live in, the idea of slowing down often feels like a luxury that we don’t have. But, as I discovered on my own nomad journey, slowing down can be the key to unlocking richer, more rewarding experiences.
I still remember the time in 2016 when I was living in Thailand, completely fascinated by the vibrant culture, food, and friendly locals. I was fortunate to strike up a friendship with a nomadic couple who, like me, were also working remotely. Our shared experiences, laughs, and the bond we formed made my time in Thailand all the more memorable. I particularly recall some enjoyable political debates as we were walking around a street market in Chiang Mai. A week into our friendship, they were already hosting their leaving party. To be honest, the news was disheartening. I was just getting to know them, and suddenly, they were leaving.
This incident underscored for me one of the biggest challenges of the typical digital nomad lifestyle: constant motion. The excitement of new places is often tempered by the transience of relationships and the lack of a stable community. Moving to a new location every week or two can be immensely disruptive to habits, friendships, and the sense of having a ‘home’ in the world.
This is where slowmading comes into play. It’s about striking a balance between the freedom of a nomadic lifestyle and the desire for deeper connections and a sense of belonging. Slowmading lets you stay longer in each destination, giving you the opportunity to form lasting relationships, become part of the community, and truly immerse yourself in the local culture. It’s a great antidote to the loneliness and stress some nomads feel.
It’s not just about relationships, though. From a work perspective, slowmading can lead to improved productivity and work-life balance. With less time spent planning travel, packing, and unpacking, you can establish a solid routine that supports your work, health, and hobbies. Instead of being constantly uprooted, you have the chance to create a stable, productive work environment wherever you are. After all, how can you expect to build any sense of stability or continuity if you’re always on the go?
In essence, slowmading offers the best of both worlds—the freedom of remote work and travel, without sacrificing the comfort of having a home and a community. It encourages us to slow down, be present, and fully appreciate the journey, not just the destination.
How to Travel Slow as a Digital Nomad
Embarking on the journey of slowmading isn’t as daunting as it might seem. At the end of the day, it comes down to thoughtful planning, open-mindedness, and a desire to immerse oneself more deeply in the cultural tapestry of a place. Here are some pointers to help you navigate this transition smoothly:
Choosing the Right Destination
While places like Chiang Mai are popular among digital nomads, they might not be the best fit for slowmading due to their transient nature. Consider destinations that are known for their welcoming communities and a slower pace of life.
Cities like Medellín in Colombia, with its temperate climate and thriving expat community, or Canggu in Bali, famous for its surf culture and coworking spaces, are ideal for slowmading. Another option could be Porto in Portugal. It’s a city rich in history and culture, and its growing digital nomad scene is marked by many choosing to stay for extended periods.
For more in-depth information on potential destinations, check out guide on digital nomad-friendly countries.
While spontaneous adventures can be fun, slowmading often requires a bit of foresight. It’s essential to plan your stay and know what you’ll be doing with your time to ensure you don’t get bored. Research local activities, community events, coworking spaces, and places of interest. Additionally, consider your work schedule and align it with the local timezone to avoid any hiccups.
Accommodation and Visas
Make sure you get your ducks in a row when it comes to visas and accommodation. Most countries have specific visa rules for long-term stays, so make sure you’re well-informed and prepared. As for accommodation, options like Airbnb often offer discounts for longer stays, making a month or two-long visit more economically viable than you’d think.
Connect with Locals
Slowmading is about more than just living in a foreign country—it’s about becoming a part of the local fabric. Engage with the local community and learn from their experiences. One of my most cherished memories from my time in Chiang Mai is my interactions with a local waitress via Google Translate. Despite the language barrier, we were able to connect and share laughs. That’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life – and we would never had met if I had only been there for a few days.
Establishing a Routine
We’re humans, like it or not, we thrive on routine. Our brains need it. A routine provides structure to your day, helping you manage your time effectively and separate your work life from your personal life. When you’re a slowmader, the lines between work, travel, and leisure can often blur. You’re not just working remotely; you’re immersing yourself in a new location and culture. This unique lifestyle calls for a routine that not only promotes productivity but also allows you to fully experience your surroundings.
Start by setting regular working hours that suit your personal productivity and the demands of your job, but also take into account the local lifestyle. For instance, if the local culture is more active in the evenings, you might want to shift your work hours earlier to free up your evenings.
Next, incorporate time for exploration and cultural immersion into your routine. This could be a daily walk around your neighborhood, weekly trips to local markets or landmarks, or regular participation in local events or activities. This not only enriches your travel experience but can also provide inspiration and motivation for your work.
Meal times are an excellent opportunity for cultural immersion. Try to adapt to local meal times and habits, and take the time to prepare local dishes. This not only helps you connect with the local culture but also ensures you’re taking regular breaks from work.
Exercise is also important, and can be another opportunity for cultural immersion. You might try local forms of exercise, like yoga in India or martial arts in East Asia, or simply enjoy the local natural beauty through outdoor activities like hiking or swimming.
Lastly, ensure you have a consistent sleep schedule. This can be more challenging when you’re adjusting to a new time zone or a local lifestyle that’s different from what you’re used to, but it’s crucial for maintaining your health and productivity.
Essential Tools for Slowmading
As a slowmading digital nomad, you’re not just passing through—you’re setting up a temporary home. This requires a slightly different set of tools and gear than what the typical, fast-travelling digital nomad might need. Let’s delve into some essential items that can make your slow travel more comfortable and efficient.
The Right Tech Gear
Your laptop is your office, so investing in a reliable, high-performance laptop is essential. As you’ll be staying longer in each location, having a laptop that can be serviced globally, like the Dell XPS series or Apple’s MacBook Pro, is a great advantage. These laptops offer excellent performance, durability, and have service centers in most parts of the world. Check out this detailed guide on the best laptops for digital nomads for more recommendations tailored to your specific needs.
A Versatile Backpack
As a slowmader, your backpack isn’t just for your airport sprint—it’s your daily companion. Opt for a spacious, sturdy backpack that can handle a bit of everything—work, grocery runs, day trips, and more. Look for features like laptop compartments, water resistance, and ergonomic design. The Nomatic Travel Pack is a popular choice among digital nomads for its functional design and durability. For more options, this guide on the best digital nomad backpacks covers a range of backpacks suited to different needs and budgets.
Local SIM Card
Unlike the one-week traveler, you’ll need a reliable and cost-effective way to stay connected over a longer period. While Wi-Fi is generally available, having a local SIM card gives you the flexibility to work or navigate from anywhere. It’s often more cost-effective than international roaming and provides better coverage.
Cooking and Fitness Gear
Staying in one place allows you to create a home-away-from-home experience. Consider packing portable cooking gear like a travel-friendly spice kit or collapsible kitchenware. This can make your cooking experiences more enjoyable, save on eating out, and cater to any specific dietary needs you may have.
Similarly, maintaining your fitness routine is easier when you’re not always on the move. Portable fitness equipment like resistance bands, a travel yoga mat, or even a lightweight TRX system can help you keep up with your fitness goals.
Remember, slowmading is all about balance and sustainability. The tools and gear you choose should support this lifestyle—helping you work efficiently, live comfortably, and enjoy your immersive travel experience to the fullest.
Case Study: Successful Slowmaders – Luke and Nell from What If We Walked
Let’s take a closer look at the journey of a truly inspirational slowmading couple, Luke and Nell, founders of the blog What If We Walked. Their incredible journey began in 2017, when they decided to take a break from their careers and explore the world at their own pace.
Embracing the slowmading lifestyle, Luke and Nell chose to travel by foot as much as possible, experiencing the world in a way that’s very different from traditional digital nomadism. As they traversed various landscapes, they took the time to immerse themselves in local cultures, engage with community members, and soak up the sights and sounds that their destinations had to offer.
But their journey was more than just about exploration. They focused on building sustainable habits, from cooking their meals using locally-sourced produce, to participating in community activities, and even learning local languages. They didn’t just visit places; they lived there. In other words, they became a part of the community, albeit temporarily.
Luke and Nell’s slowmading journey is a testament to the immense benefits of slowing down. They’ve not only seen the world but also experienced it in its truest sense. They’ve built relationships, learned new skills, and most importantly, they’ve lived life on their terms.
From their journey, we can glean several actionable lessons:
- Immerse yourself in the culture: Take the time to learn about local customs, languages, and traditions. This will enrich your travel experience and make you feel more at home.
- Engage with the local community: Participate in local activities and events. It’s a great way to meet new people and understand the place you’re living in.
- Embrace sustainability: Whether it’s by choosing to walk instead of drive, cooking your meals, or volunteering, adopting sustainable practices can enhance your slowmading experience and reduce your environmental footprint.
- Take your time: Slowmading is about relishing the journey, not just reaching a destination. Don’t rush. Take the time to explore, learn, and grow.
Luke and Nell’s journey shows us that slowmading isn’t just a way of travel—it’s a way of life. It’s about slowing down, embracing the world around us, and living life in its truest sense. And isn’t that what we’re all looking for?
1. What is slowmading, and how is it different from traditional digital nomadism?
Slowmading is a style of travel that emphasizes staying longer in each destination, allowing for deeper connections with the local culture, people, and environment. Unlike traditional digital nomadism, which may involve moving from place to place more frequently, slowmading is about taking the time to truly immerse yourself in each location.
2. How do I choose the best location for slowmading?
Choosing a location for slowmading often involves more consideration than just picking a place with good Wi-Fi. Think about what you want to get out of your stay. Are you interested in learning a new language? Do you want to be surrounded by nature? Is access to a digital nomad community important to you? Our guide on digital nomad-friendly countries can help you start your research.
3. Is slowmading more expensive than traditional digital nomadism?
Not necessarily. While you might spend more on accommodation or living expenses in one place, you often save on transportation costs. Plus, staying longer in one location often lets you find local deals and less touristy, more affordable options for food, entertainment, and other expenses.
4. I’m interested in slowmading, but I’m worried about feeling isolated. How can I avoid this?
Feeling isolated can be a challenge for any digital nomad. One of the benefits of slowmading is that it gives you more time to build connections within the local community. You can also seek out local co-working spaces or digital nomad meetups, or connect with other slowmaders online.
5. How can I maintain my productivity while slowmading?
Maintaining a routine is key. When you first arrive at a new location, take some time to establish where you’ll work, where you can take breaks, and what your daily schedule will look like. Try to maintain regular working hours and set boundaries to ensure work-life balance. Our post on 3 routines for working from home might be useful to you here.
In the end, slowmading represents a beautiful blend of living, working, and travelling. It’s not about racing from one location to the next or being chained to your laptop for long hours. It’s not about a sense of rootlessness or the constant challenge of adapting to new environments. Slowmading is about finding the elusive balance between work and travel, between stability and novelty.
Slowmading allows you to appreciate the subtle changes in the seasons, discover local hidden gems, engage with the community, and create lasting memories, all while maintaining your professional commitments. By choosing to slow down, you make space for experiences that fast-paced travel often misses. You give yourself the freedom to breathe, to live, to work, and most importantly, to savor the journey.
Jared has worked remotely for 15 years in various marketing capacities, and has managed hundreds of marketing campaigns along the way. He has held freelance, agency, and in-house positions for companies large and small.