22 Headaches of Slow Travel Save Your Life

In this report, I share the 22 Headaches of Slow Travel Save Your Life.

I have learned a ton of things about slow traveling the world for the last 17 years. Whether you intend to slow travel the world for 10 years or just go on a 10-week exploratory visit to find your dream paradise retirement overseas, here are 22 headaches slow travelers must avoid to make life easier.

In this video, I will assume that you have already set up your home country banking properly with two-factor authentication so you can send and receive phone calls and texts for free to your home country in case one of your ATM cards or credit cards are lost or stolen while you are slow traveling.

But don’t worry, I will provide you with my free eBook at the end of this video which teaches how I set all of my banking and two-factor authentication. With that out of the way, here are the 12 headaches you can avoid as you head out on the slow travel world highway.

I will start with the things you need to think about before you fly to a new country. But first, I want to define how slow travel is different than conventional travel.

What is Slow Travel?

Slow travel is different from conventional travel in two distinct ways. First, you slowly move forward from one destination to the next without flying home. That means you rarely buy roundtrip tickets. You keep moving forward.

Second, you stay in each place longer and get to know it better, before you leave. That means you may stay in each place for at least a week, more typically a few weeks or months, before moving on.

Other than moving forward from place to place and staying in each place longer, slow travel behavior can vary greatly depending upon your personality, needs, and budget. We try to keep a low budget. How people slow travel varies substantially in the following ways.

Geographical Focus: I believe it is better to stay focused on one geographical region of the world and see everything of interest in that region before you fly to another region of the world. This saves a tremendous amount of money. So, after I finish exploring a country, I often just go to the country next door.

I have friends who fly halfway around the world each time they move to the next destination. I try not to take multiple expensive intercontinental flights per year which saves me thousands of dollars per year.

Ground Transportation: Since I am geographically focused, I am often able to take cheaper ground transportation when I move forward between places in the same country or to another place in a country right next door.

Ground transportation teaches me more about a country and its nuances than flying over it in an airplane. So I travel on buses, trains, and minivans whenever possible, whatever is cheapest.

Local Focus: I am locally focused when I slow travel. That means that when possible, I try to eat local, live local, and entertain myself by living like a local. Other slow travelers live in what I call an expat bubble.

By learning how locals live and what they eat, I learn more about each culture as I slow travel the world. I find it more interesting when I travel because I learn more about myself and the world by focusing more on what the locals are doing.

People in expat bubbles pay more money for accommodations, food, and entertainment, often because they are trying to recreate their old life in a new country. Trying to recreate your old life as you slow travel can easily cost 2 to 3 times as much, as I explain in this video.

Moving to a New Country

Visa: As an American, I can slow travel to 188 countries without applying for a visa. Since there are 195 countries in the world, there are 7 countries I need to apply for a visa before I jump on an airplane. But every time before I fly, I confirm what I need to enter a new country because the law changes all the time.

So I always Google, “Do need a visa to go to .” Insert your nationality and the country you are going in the search string. Sadly, many embassies around the world do not show up near the top of your Google search. So scroll down and look for a URL that ends in “.gov.vn” at the end.

For example, the URL for the official website of the Vietnam Embassy ends in .gov.vn. In that case “vn” stands for Vietnam, and “gov” stands for government webpage. To get the 2 letter abbreviation for the country you will visiting next, go here

For example, Thailand is “th” and the United Kingdom is “uk.” So the official embassy web pages for those two countries should be “.gov.uk” and “.gov.uk” Once you are on the official webpage for that country, read and verify whether or not people from your home country need a visa to enter, how long they can stay, and anything else it says you need to gain entry. Make sure to get everything they are asking before you fly to that country.

Flight: Search on Skyscanner.net to find the cheapest one-way flight to the country. Make sure to search using the “monthly” function so you can get the cheapest flight during the month of travel. Once you know the cheapest airline, cheapest, day, and flight time, buy your flight directly from the airline if possible. If you buy directly from the airline, they are usually more cooperative if you have to make changes later.

When your eTicket arrives at your email address, make sure to save a PDF copy of it and save it to your smartphone. Also, read the eTicket and any emails you receive from the airline because they often tell you what you need to board your flight.

For example, many countries are asking you to fill out arrival cards or eVisas over the last two years. Make sure you do all of that before going to the airport. Make sure to save it all to local memory on your phone since you won’t be able to download anything from the cloud when you first land overseas because you won’t have a local sim card in your phone until you pass immigration.

Luggage/Baggage Fees: Read how much luggage you are allowed for the ticket you are purchasing. If you plan on bringing more weight or bags than allowed, make sure to pay for it online way in advance of arriving at the airport for travel. It can cost 2 or 3 times as much at the gate.

Accommodations: Book the first 4 nights before you fly to a new country. I will share more about accommodations later. But, print a PDF copy of your accommodations and save it to local memory on your smartphone so you can show it to immigration if they ask when you land.

Remember, your phone won’t have local internet connectivity in the new country to download the PDF from the cloud until you pass through immigration and get a sim card. More on that later.

Airport Transfers: When you fly to a new country, you need to know how to get from the airport to your first accommodations. First, try to find out if an Internet taxi application like Grab, Uber, or Lyft exists in that city, and if so, are they allowed to pick people up at the airport?

First Google, “What are the big rideshare apps in Countryname (or Cityname)?” Then, Google something like, “Can Grab Taxi Pick me up at airport code?” The airport code is on the ticket you bought above. Some cities have 2 or more airports and 2 or more rideshare apps, so you need to be specific.

If no ride-share apps, you will have to get creative, because old-school taxi drivers can be very creative at overcharging you for your airport transfer (plus you may not speak the local language).

Here are a few tips (1) email your accommodations and ask if they can help you get from the airport to them and what they will charge, (2) Google, “Is there an official taxi stand inside arrivals?” or (3) Google, “Is there a bus from to the city center?”

Exchange Rate: Find out the exchange rate so you learn how much money to take out of the ATM when you land in the new country. For example, right now we are in Vietnam and the exchange rate is 25k Dong to $1 USD.

So if I want to get $200 USD worth of local money out of an ATM when I land in Vietnam, I know I will have to ask the ATM for 5 Million Dong. Now you know how much to ask the ATM for in local money when you land.

Pre-Paid Sim Cards: A sim card is a little chip you install in a smartphone to get local connectivity in a new country. Also, make sure to unlock your phone before leaving your home country so you can slip a new sim card into it when you land.

Trust me, you don’t want to roam in a foreign country using your home country’s sim. It can be hundreds of dollars per day. And, the new eSims on the market still cost 2 to 4 times as much as prepaid local sim cards you can get for $5 to $20 per month including data at almost every airport when you land overseas.

So, Google, “Can I get a sim card at airportcode?” That is very possible in most of the world now. Most include more data than you will need and can be topped up at local convenience stores every month thereafter.

This means you will be able to use your unlocked smartphone from your home country to order a rideshare taxi after you land in a new country and get a new sim card installed at the airport.

Safety Currency: Make sure to bring some safety currency for emergencies such as when your ATM card doesn’t work, it gets stolen, or the internet is down. I would recommend bringing a minimum of about $500 to $1000 USD or its equivalent in Euros, or Pounds.

Going to the Airport

Onward Flight: The country you are flying to may not let you enter unless you have an onward flight. So the airline may not let you board your flight unless you have a round-trip ticket going home or an onward flight to another country.

So, about 4 hours before you head to the airport, buy an onward flight. You can find onward flights by Googling, “Onward Flights.” A bunch of companies rent onward flights for about 48 hours for about $12. For your $12 USD, they will put your name in the system for that onward flight. Now you will be able to board your flight when you get to the airport.

When you apply for the onward flight online, make sure to ask for a flight that is scheduled to leave the country you are traveling to before your visa or visa exemption expires. Also, ask for the onward flight to be with an airline other than the airline you are with today.

Save the onward flight proof in a PDF document that you can pull up on your phone in case you are asked for proof of an onward or return flight. In 7 years we have only had 1 onward flight like this refused by the airline when we were boarding. The airline refused our onward flight because it was booked but not yet paid for. Immigration has never refused our onward flight proof.

But go to the airport 3 hours early. If it is refused by the airline, step out of line and buy the cheapest actual flight to the nearest country for as cheap as possible and pay for it. The electronic ticket number is usually issued within an hour after purchase. So if you go to the airport early enough, you will probably be able to show the electronic ticket number for the real (paid for) onward flight before your flight today leaves without you.

Exchange $100: One time, when we arrived at an airport, the sim sellers were inside the arrival terminal, and the ATMs were outside the airport. So we didn’t have local cash to buy the sim card until we exited arrivals. And once you exit arrivals, most airports won’t let you back in.

So, if you have never been to this country before and don’t know the layout of the airport, I suggest exchanging $100 or $200 of your safety currency before you board your flight today. Then you can buy little things like sim cards or food if the ATM machines are outside the arrival terminal.

Boarding Pass: Next, go to the gate and get your boarding pass. They will ask for your onward flight and your passport before issuing your boarding pass. They will also ask for any other documents they requested in emails or listed on your eTicket.

They will weigh your luggage. If your luggage is overweight they will often charge you 2 or 3 times as much as you could have paid if you had gone online a few days before your flight and paid for more weight. So make sure you understand the airline’s luggage weight and dimension requirements.

Bring a coat with many different-sized pockets. If they tell you that you are overweight, you can start stuffing items into your coat pockets to get down to the allowed weight. Once you get your boarding pass you can stuff that stuff in your carry-on until you go to board your flight.

Some of the regional rip-off airlines will weigh your carry-on again at the gate when you are boarding. In that case, put the overweight stuff back in your coat pockets until you are on the airplane.

Phone Battery: Unless you print everything you will need to show immigration when you land, overseas, don’t run your phone’s battery down to zero during the flight. You will need to pull up these documents on your phone to show immigration when you land. Also, you need enough charge left to order a rideshare taxi and get to your hotel before your battery dies.

Landing Overseas

Most immigration entry points have signs saying not to photograph anything or use your phones. So, keep your phone in your pocket until an immigration official asks for a document that you have on your phone.

Attitude: A soft smile and a nod is a great way to pay your respects to an immigration official when you are standing in front of them. Answer questions when asked but don’t ramble on. And no matter what, do not raise your voice, show any anger, or be condescending.

Typical Questions: Sometimes you will not get any questions. If you are dressed reasonably and don’t have a marijuana leaf or insulting words on your tee shirt, you might go through without any questions. But here are a few typical questions we get about half the time:


Answer (slow traveler)

What do you plan to do while here?

I am a tourist on holiday. Stop and smile.

How long will you be here?

My flight leaves in 26 days on Month, Date, Year.

Can I see your accommodations and exit flight?

Here is my exit flight and accommodations (show them the paper or phone).

They will stamp your passport and say, welcome to “countryname.”

Make sure to read the date on the stamp and leave the country before that date to avoid any problems. Many countries allow you to get extensions but don’t overstay your allowed time. Get an extension or leave on time.

Next, pick up your luggage, get money out of the ATM machine, buy a sim card for your phone, and have them install it. Make sure you are able to get on the internet while you are standing in front of them. Pay them once your phone is able to get on the internet with the sim card. That is what you are paying for.

Rideshare App: Now, open the ride-sharing app you learned about from above. Put the name of your accommodations as the destination, and whatever terminal you are in for pick up at the airport.

Go to the spot where rideshare taxis are allowed to pick you up. The rideshare app almost always shows you where to go but there is often a sign outside showing where rideshare taxis pick up. If people approach you ignore them and just watch for the license plate of the car shown on your ride-sharing app.

Arrive at Your Accommodations: Show them your booking on your phone.

Enjoying A New City

If you have arrived at one of the 100 or so cities where we have retire cheap reports, that report should help you experience a soft landing in that city. The reports often have things to do such as tours, nightlife, favorite restaurants, grocery stores, and open-air markets, and other helpful information such as places to stay and other time or money-saving tips.

We also use 9 smartphone applications to save time and money which we talk about in this video. In addition to those 9, and the retire cheap reports, here are a few pointers to make slow travel more enjoyable and more affordable.

Walkability: We love staying in walkable areas of town because it makes life so much easier. Luckily Google makes it easier to eliminate areas of town which are not so walkable. Notice how in the parts circled in red, the ground is tan colored whereas the surrounding areas the ground is more whiteish in color.

That is Google Maps’ way of telling us that the white areas are not as walkable as the tan areas. So if you were to book something in the tan areas, you would have many more things to do within walking distance to your accommodations.

Public Transportation: Sometimes Public Transportation is much faster and cheaper than a ridesharing app like Grab or Uber. In heavy traffic, a raised rail system or water taxi can get you across town in 20 or 30 minutes whereas a Grab or Uber taxi could take an hour or more.

Plus, public transportation might only cost 15 cents when the Grab taxi is 5 dollars. Google Maps can help us determine that also. You just put your desired destination in Google Maps and click the bus icon as shown below.

Google Maps will show you where to walk to catch the nearest public transportation that will take you to your desired destination.

Google Translate: Google searches often work much better if you translate your search into the local language. For example, if I start with, “What is the most famous traditional dish that originates from Da Nang Vietnam.” Google replies, “Mi Quang is a famous dish from Da Nang, Vietnam.”

If I then translate that dish into Vietnamese, I am more likely to get the name of a restaurant near me that is known only to the locals which means a better price and a more authentic experience.

So, I paste the translation into Google and it gives me more local results many times. Google will even translate the reviews back into English for you. Then you just pick the one with the best reviews and walk over there using Google Maps.

Even in places like the Philippines, the locals may be able to speak to you in English, but when they go online and leave reviews for their favorite local restaurants, they write in their local language. So you may find a few great places and things to do by translating your queries into the local language.

We also use Google Translate when we are trying to communicate specific ideas with a local who does not speak English. We just type our questions in English and they can type their replies in their local language and we can each read what each other is thinking with Google Translate.

Deciding Where to Go Next

Pick Places: No matter how much we love a place, we eventually get the itch to discover a new place. When thinking about where to go next, you will save time and money if you begin to think about all of the places you want to see in a country before you enter that country.

We often find where we want to go in a new country by asking our followers where they want us to go and by watching YouTube videos about all the places in a new country. For example, we have almost 1000 videos of us with our feet on the ground all over the world.

Those videos are grouped by country so you can pick where you want to go in each country.

Shortest Path: Once you decide where to go in a country, you should travel through it in the shortest path possible, so you don’t waste time or money going backward to visit places you missed the first time.

Ground Transportation: We use buses, trains, and min-vans to travel on the ground between places in a country. We save a bunch of money that way and we get to see the landscape as we move around the country. We get a much better understanding of a country when we see the landscape on the ground. You can’t see much from an airplane.

To find ground transportation all over the world, we often start with Rome2Rio.com. They usually have great information about buses, trains, and ferries all over the world. But they usually don’t find everything. So, another trick is to walk into the large Youth Hostel in whatever city you are in and ask them how to transfer to another city.

Also, travel agencies sometimes know about min-vans that can take you where you want to go. But be careful when searching online for ground transfers. There are often third parties that will charge you much more than the cost of the ground transportation.

A big red flag is if they ask you to give your credit card number verbally over the phone. When you are dealing with a new online company always check Google, Trip Advisor, or Trust Pilot to see if they have a bad reputation.

Once we slowly complete our shortest path through a country then we move to a nearby country often right next door. Once we have slowly traveled through all of the countries we want to see in that part of the world … only then do we jump on an intercontinental jet and fly to another part of the world. Then we slowly travel through that part of the world.

Finally, I promised to share how we find cheap accommodations.

Accommodations: In many countries, Airbnb is no longer as affordable as it once was. So we don’t book long-term accommodations on Airbnb very often anymore. Now we book 4 nights in an area of town that seems promising and then we put our feet on the ground to find a better deal than we can on Airbnb.

It has been working pretty well. But this video is already too long. So, watch the video appearing in the upper right hand of your screen right now to learn how we find perfect apartments around the world as we slow travel.

For a link to everything I just shared with you in writing, click the first link in the notes below this video. And remember to set up your banking properly as I describe in my free eBook available on VagabondBuddha.com.

Thanks for reviewing our report, 22 Headaches of Slow Travel Save Your Life.