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Harness the Power of your Passport with Slow Travel

Many of us have ambitions of moving overseas once we are retired or, perhaps, even before then if we’ve got a job that enables us to work on the road as a digital nomad. Unfortunately, while there are many affordable residency programs available, it is only getting more difficult and more expensive to qualify for most residency programs.

Mexico is a prime example of this, where for temporary residency you now need to show an income of over CAD$6,160 per month or an average bank balance of CAD$102,671 over 12 months. That’s pretty steep for many people and a drastic increase from just a few years ago.

But that’s not the only reason someone may not want to pursue residency abroad. Some people aren’t quite ready to hunker down and commit to residency outside their home country, at least not until they’ve had the chance to explore and find their spot. But they don’t want to travel non-stop either.

Don’t worry – there is definitely some middle-ground here, and it may be the perfect fit for some of you.

Introducing the concept of Slow Travel. Many expats are turning to slow travel as an option to see the world prior to settling down in one place, or as an alternative to expensive residency programs. The best part? All you need to get started is your passport and your suitcase.

What is Slow Travel?

Slow travel is exactly what it sounds like – traveling slowly. But what it really means is enjoying more immersive, meaningful travel where you are taking the time to fully experience each destination.

With slow travel, you are leveraging the power of your passport and tourist visas to stay in each location for a longer amount of time than you would on a typical whirlwind vacation. Tourist visas can fluctuate in length from 30 days up to one year, giving you plenty of time to get out there and explore.

What are some of the key benefits of Slow Travel?

There are so many benefits to slow travel! As I researched this article, I can tell you 100% that this is something I’d like to incorporate for myself down the road. Here are some of the top benefits that really stood out to me:

Travel for less

Long-term travel stays can definitely save you money, but the key is stay for long enough to benefit. In the case of Airbnb, you can take advantage of significantly reduced rates by staying for 28 days or more. If you are staying for longer than that, you may even be able to negotiate a bigger discount with your host.

Staying in an Airbnb also helps you to save on food costs since you won’t need to eat out all the time and can cook at home.

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If you loosen up your timelines and travel more slowly, you also have more flexibility for how you get around. You can do more walking when you aren’t racing the clock and you can enjoy other transport methods such as trains or buses instead of being forced to take an airplane, which will likely be far more expensive.

Give back to the community

Many expats want to do some form of volunteering when they travel, to feel like they are contributing to the communities they visit. While it can be tough to do that on a tight timeline, slow travel gives you more time freedom to volunteer and engage with the community.

Get a better feel for the country

Taking your time to get to know each destination is a huge part of what slow travel is all about. Instead of parachuting in and out in a flash, you have time to get out there and explore. You can meet locals and other expats and start building relationships with them. You’ll get to know your way around and even start building a little bit of a routine. You’ll get to experience more of the food and culture.

Slow travel enables you to gain invaluable on the ground experience that you just can’t get with a shorter visit.


Obtaining residence in a new country is no joke! It is a time consuming and expensive process and usually comes with mandatory physical presence or visitation requirements to keep your residency.

Conversely, the beauty of slow travel is that you can just use tourist visas to stay in each country. The power of your passport is a wonderful thing, and it will grant you access to many countries as a tourist for a set amount of time. Even if you have to apply for a visa ahead of time, it’s a quick, easy and cheap process with much less planning required.

Less stress

Applying for residency can be a stressful process, as you never know when they might choose to change the rules on you, or if something may come up that could make it difficult for you to complete the process.

Travel can be stressful, too. I’m sure most of you have been on trips where you felt like you were on the Amazing Race – I know I have! Taking the wrong train by mistake turns into a catastrophic experience when time is not on your side.

With slow travel, you don’t have the stress of the whole residency process weighing on you, nor do you have the time stresses that you would with a 1-2 week vacation. You can take your time getting around and even take a day off to hang out around your Airbnb to relax, if you feel like it. The freedom and flexibility that comes with making your own schedule and not having to see and do everything in a very short, finite amount of time will drastically reduce travel stress, thereby helping you to get the most out of your experience.

Forced downsizing

We all have so much “stuff”, don’t we? Collected over many years of life, we end up almost weighed down by our belongings. One of the cool things about slow travel is that it forces you to downsize. Rather than lugging around all your worldly possessions, you are constrained by what you can fit into a suitcase.

While it may sound horrifying at first, freeing yourself of all your stuff will be both a liberating exercise and a learning experience. You’ll truly find out what you need in your daily life and, spoiler alert, it’s a lot less than you think.

Look before you leap

We’ve already established that slow travel gives you the opportunity to experience countries on a deeper level than you can achieve with a traditional vacation. If you are someone who is using slow travel to check out countries on your Plan B list, this is a great way to get out there and experience each destination before you make your final decision.

How to proceed with your Slow Travel journey

Just as with planning any big trip or move, you are going to want to have a clear idea of where you are going and how to get there. Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you start to conceptualize your slow travel journey:

  1. What countries do you want to visit?
  2. How long can you stay in each country on a tourist visa?
  3. Is your tourist visa renewable or do you need to leave for a certain amount of time?
  4. How are you financing your trip?
  5. What is your budget?
  6. What is the exchange rate for each currency and how will you access cash abroad?
  7. Do you intend to keep your home and most of your belongings, or do you intend to sell everything and travel full-time?
  8. What is the weather like in your destination countries?
  9. Do you need to update your passport before you go?
  10. What methods of transportation are available in each country and between countries?

Is Slow Travel the option you’ve been waiting for?

Slow travel may just be the best option you’ve never heard of. Whether you are a retiree, digital nomad, or just someone who is looking to travel, slow travel gives you the opportunity to really experience each destination on your list.

While we talk a lot about setting up your Plan B and moving abroad, some people may feel discouraged when they see some of the costs and time commitments associated with obtaining a second residency and citizenship. On top of that, they may not even know where they want to go, especially if they haven’t had much of an opportunity to get out and travel yet.

Slow travel is a great way to both augment and inform your overall Plan B strategy, without feeling like you have to sell everything you own and commit to a particular country. And it gives you a more, shall we say, age-appropriate travel experience with less rushing around and more meaningful experiences in the countries you visit. So, leverage that passport and get out and see the world – your slow travel journey awaits!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s article. If you did, make sure you also check out this month’s issue of Escape Artist Insiders magazine, which is focused on residencies and citizenships. If you are building your Plan B or just want to learn a little more about offshore planning, this is a key issue you won’t want to miss. Subscribe today!

Thanks for reading and see you next week!

LisaLisa is an aspiring expat from Canada who is working to put together her Plan B with a young family in tow. She is excited to pair her lifelong love of writing with her passion for offshore strategies and outside-the box investments in her weekly articles for Escape Artist readers. Follow this “rebel with a cause” as she walks the path less traveled and shares her experiences along the way.
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