What is Slow Travel? The Power of Slow Travel: My One-Month Experience in Seoul

9 min readMar 6


Have you ever had those trips where you just feel like it’s a battle against time to make sure you don’t miss anything?

After a rough start in 2022, I felt this need to slow down as I found myself in a constant race against the clock at work, in my relationships, and especially in my solo travels.

Today, we live in a world that advocates speed and immediacy. Our sense of time has changed, and it has become difficult to fully live in the now. I was on a mission to tick boxes off my travel bucket list without appreciating the little things that make the destination I’m in unique.

Thanks to travelers I met along the way, I discovered the concept of slow traveling. A philosophy that leads you to shift your travels on quality rather than quantity. No more solo trips, two days here, weekends there, unpacking and repacking every morning. It was time to stop jumping from destination to destination. To hit the pause button. That’s why I chose to practice slow travel by going to Seoul for a month.

What is “slow travel”?

Slow travel is a new approach that challenges you to slow down your daily routine and explore a new destination on your own agenda. It’s designed for you to take your time to experience your destination’s region, culture, people, traditions, and way of life. Slow travel is replacing today’s hectic lifestyle with a new sense of simplicity!

How and why did I adopt slow traveling?

As a truly free-spirited person, it was important to me to have a career that allowed me to travel frequently. For the past two years, I have been working as a freelancer so that I could enjoy occasional travel. However, I quickly realized that balancing work and travel was not an easy task. There’s this belief around freelancing or digital nomadism that you do whatever you want. Well, I can guarantee you: I have deadlines, schedules, and above all client pressures just like everyone else!

Suddenly, traveling became stressful and overwhelming. I had to deal with meetings at 3 a.m. because of time zone differences, last-minute emails before getting on the plane, or files I couldn’t download because it was too risky to use free airport Wifi. Believe me, I’ve been there and done that.

So how did I adopt slow travel? It all started last summer when I traveled to Portugal and Spain. I visited 5 cities in 3 weeks with a packed itinerary on a mission to see as much as possible (Can you see why slow travel was necessary?).

Throughout this busy schedule, I had the opportunity to meet many people, including digital nomads. It was a relief to meet people who share the same experiences and to laugh together about common situations that can happen to us. They introduced me to slow travel and how I could learn to disconnect through it. It was exactly what I needed. And because I never do things halfway why not mark the occasion?

So mid-September, I just bought tickets… to my dream destination! If I’m going to slow-travel, I might as well go to a destination where I can enjoy it, right? So on September 27, 2022, I boarded my plane to South Korea.

I remember I went through all the emotions: Afraid of what awaited me, excited by this new adventure, and proud of myself because I was about to realize a lifetime goal. There, I was ready to live my trip without schedules and above all to live in the present moment.

At first, I have to admit, I had this FOMO (fear of missing out) feeling. I felt bad for not visiting the city I always dreamed of. I was not strolling around Seoul’s most well-known streets nor running around endless tourist attractions.

I learned to put things into perspective. No more tourist burnout! I was free to take my time and immerse myself. I cherished every little moment like my 45-minute subway ride between Gangnam and Hongdae, the usual dinner at James & Cheese, or having my morning vanilla latte at the local Starbucks. It actually took me three weeks to start exploring the “must-visit places” in Seoul.

Slow travel allowed me to have meaningful experiences and build real connections. I really took the time to get to know people. I met some amazing people with whom I developed genuine friendships and did things as simple as going for a coffee. Something I hadn’t done in a long time!

Why Seoul is the perfect destination to slow travel?

One of the things to remember from slow travel is not necessarily the destination and what there is to see, but rather what you will experience and discover. For me, South Korea was the perfect destination to try to experience slow traveling.

From an early age, I had a strong interest in Asia, which resulted in a degree in Asian studies. I’m still passionate about the history, culture, and languages of Asian countries including South Korea. For several years, I dreamed of going there. When we think of South Korea, we immediately identify it with K-pop. Personally, I see a country rich in its traditions, its landscapes, and its culinary discoveries. A perfect destination if you are looking to get off the beaten track and discover a new culture.

Seoul is a city full of surprises where modern and traditional go hand in hand. If you want to find calm and nature, there are many green spaces in the heart of the city. A day of shopping or entertainment? Myeongdong and Hongdae are the places to be.

Need a quiet place to work? Head to Seongsu to find the perfect cafe spot. High quality of life, easy to get around, and security, Seoul has probably everything you need. It is also the starting point for visiting other cities; you can discover cities like Suwon. It’s very easy to swap the fast pace of Seoul’s modern life for Busan or Jeju’s beaches.

Benefits of slow travel

Live an immersive experience: Adopting slow travel means being ready to truly open up, to immerse yourself in places to discover them in depth. Through this experience, I liked gradually getting to know the city, getting lost, and discovering streets that you don’t see on social media. One of my favorite things about slow traveling was this feeling of living as if I had been in Seoul forever.

Leave room for the unexpected: We are sufficiently driven to respect schedules in our daily lives to have time conditions imposed on us while traveling. My most beautiful discoveries were born from the unforeseen events of my daily life. Not planning everything allowed me to discover places that I would never have thought of visiting such as randomly stumbling upon a panoramic view of Seoul at Naksan Park or my spontaneous trip to Busan.

Appreciate the little things: When you don’t enjoy what’s around you, you inevitably are going to miss something. The same goes for travel; although travelers can get an idea during a short stay, there are unique details in each country. As I explored with a more casual agenda, I learned to appreciate my surroundings, small conversations, and even friendships.

Form meaningful connections: By staying longer in Seoul, I had the opportunity to meet many people. Yes, there have been fleeting encounters, but I also made deeper connections. Those relationships that were forged were definitely more sincere. Together we had an incredible adventure. To this day, we still write to each other and plan future trips together!

Embrace the art of slow-traveling

First of all, slow travel is not only for those who have time to travel more regularly. Slow travel, in my opinion, is a philosophy that you can adopt in your lifestyle, whether it is a two-week or a six-month trip. Here are some tips to switch on your slow-travel mode:

Change your mindset: When you arrive at a new destination, it’s normal to be excited to visit everything. So just breathe and relax. By changing your outlook on travel, you will be able to slow down and open yourself up to new experiences.

Set up some goals for yourself: Make the most of your trip by learning a new language, offering your services in exchange for a place to sleep or even spending a few hours volunteering!

Stay flexible: Slow travel has taught me to lighten my schedule. There were days when I visited and days when I didn’t do anything. This approach teaches us that it’s okay to do nothing and that another opportunity will come along. You will learn to accept doing less and not see everything in one week.

Spend time alone: Some days, Seoul felt so much at home that I got back to my old habits. So, I sometimes liked to spend some time alone. I would walk around and reconnect with myself. So, if you can, try to spend time just with yourself.

Switch from tourist to local: Why not immerse yourself in the culture by staying with a local? There are many options like house sitting, couch surfing, Airbnb or you can even adopt the “van life”.

Final Thoughts

Through this experience, I think I was able to fall even more in love with Seoul. Living and working in this incredible city for a month was an experience that changed my outlook on life. I gave myself a much-needed break that made space for growth and relaxation. I think that’s the magic of slowing down.

Slow travel is about adopting a new mindset and focusing on the present. You are free to decide where you want to go when you want to go and how long you want to stay. Forget about planning, and let your curiosity guide you! Do you want to go on a solo trip this year? You can read more travel tips and find travel buddies through the NomadHer. Download the NomadHer app now!

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👩 Gaëlle Andriamahatahitry, the NomadHer article contributor, is a professional social media freelancer from Switzerland. She is passionate about the creative sphere, enjoying taking photos, editing videos, and creating designs. Always up for an adventure, she started traveling when she was very young. It wasn’t until she was 16 years old, while on a language exchange to Ireland, that she caught the travel bug. Since that experience, she has loved traveling on her own, meeting people from all over the world, and being exposed to a new culture




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