The ideas of slow travel and quality travel are coming up more and more. The core idea being to stay in a place longer and sink deeper into it as opposed to go skipping by so fast as to only see the major sights before being whisked away on a bus to the next sight. This isn’t to say that just because you are in a city for a while that you can’t explore out around it. I like daytrips as a way of stretching the travel muscles a bit to see a place and its surroundings.
If you base yourself in one major city (usually with good transportation links) you can still see a lot of stuff nearby as day trips. This can reduce the time you lose by having to pack and unpack, check out of a hotel and check into the next one.
If you are in a major city for a while, it is worth seeing what is nearby. Following the ideal of looking deeper and beyond the major sites and applying it to the city as well. See what is out of the main city and still with easy reach.
For me, if the train/bus is about 2 hours or less it is well worth doing a daytrip. Especially if the last train back is late, you can still see the daytrip destination at night.
When not to?
Maybe it is just my contrary nature, but if I see a site that is well-known as a daytrip destination I usually react by wanting to spend a day or two there.
- If you go to a tourist office and see 80 different brochures offering daytrips to places think about the parking lots and crowds those buses will create. Red flag.
- If the one way travel time on the bus is 4 hours and you get to spend only a few hours there. Red flag.
- If the trip starts before you normally wake up? Yellow flag (sometimes there are reasons).
- If the itinerary mentions “local pottery shop” or something of that ilk. Red flag.
- If you can get there are public transport yourself and there are hotels in the area where you are headed. Red flag.
Too many red flags like that and I just cringe at the idea of spending my day on a bus and still maybe missing out on what I wanted to see.
- Meteora is a great place, but ends up being a daytrip destination from Athens. That is a LONG way and Kalampaka was such a cool place to hang out for the night.
- Ephesus was great, but the town of Selcuk was just as cool. Apparently there are daytrips including a Flight from Istanbul to the site, but it was common enough for buses up from the cruise port as well as backpackers just spending the day before heading on.
- Milford Sound is one of New Zealand’s biggest attractions and for good reason. The standard daytrip runs out of Queenstown and is a long day. Definitely still worth it, but the overnight trip Ali and I took was fantastic. To have the sound to yourself in the evening.
- Santorini was my first stop in Greece. The center of the lagoon is a still active volcano. There was no way I was going to see that other than on a day tour around the lagoon.
Does this run contrary to my slow travel ideals? This moving for a short time in a place.
No, I don’t think so.
Slow travel is about doing things in depth and seeing below the surface. So if a daytrip would gloss over things and an overnight stay lets you get deeper, then so be it. And anyway spending a few days at a place IS slower than a few hours on a bus.
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Slow Travel means moving slower, not stopping completely and definitely NOT missing out on cool stuff. I definitely get the urge to see everything and get wrapped up in “two days here and another day there”. I have to consciously slow myself down. It is easy to get overwhelmed and try to go too fast, especially if time is limited. This is where daytrips can help. A day of action and touristy style movement can help break up the slowness if you need the rush.
Still, look at the daytrips more closely, are they perhaps better done even as a few days. It has to be a balance between moving too fast, seeing things in enough depth and not getting bored stuck in a small town for 6 days.