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June 8, 2017 /

Slow Travel

Since we both retired, my husband and I have done quite a bit of traveling. Sometimes we take a quick drive somewhere close, other times we are away for several weeks or even a month.

Two years ago, a month-long road trip took us through several western and midwestern states, and included a journey along a good portion of Route 66. Last year, we flew to Montreal, rented a car, and traveled through parts of south eastern Canada, and the north eastern United States.

Although we thoroughly enjoyed these trips and relished visiting a lot of different places, each time we moved on we regretted not being able to stay longer and experience all that a specific location had to offer.

This time, we decided to travel in a different way, one that allowed us to slow down, breathe, and relax into life in a foreign country. For a little over five weeks, we rented a private home in Oaxaca, Mexico and enjoyed the luxury of unpacking our bags just once. The house was within walking distance to the central area: close to activity, shops, and restaurants, but far enough away to provide us with a place to enjoy our own company and recharge our batteries.

Our oasis came with a private garden.

By staying in one location for an extended period, we found that our pace slowed and our appreciation for this beautiful city and its culture was allowed to deepen and grow.  Because we weren’t on a tight schedule, we started to match – at least somewhat – our rhythm to that of the city around us.

Santa Domingo at twilight.

This isn’t to say that we didn’t take a few tours or enjoy other “touristy” pursuits – we did. But, because we knew that we had a lot of time to engage and explore, we also could make discoveries that most short-term visitors would probably miss.

What type of travel do we enjoy more? Our answer is that it really depends: it depends on the location, it depends on our curiosity level, and it depends on the time we have to devote to a particular trip.

We just returned home yesterday and I have already found my pace quickening. I have hundreds of photos to go through and pages of notes to organize. Although I promise to not share everything, I do have enough post ideas, along with pictures of doors, murals, churches, architecture, archaeological sites, celebrations, and many other delights we found in this UNESCO World Heritage city, to keep me busy for a while.



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  1. cindy knoke / Jun 8 2017 10:53 am

    How lovely!

  2. Shelley / Jun 8 2017 11:09 am

    I’m with you on the “it depends” answer. I’ve loved staying put in an area, traveling independently and traveling in a group. Each variation has much that is commendable. Looking forward to your future posts and photos.

  3. globalhousesitterX2 / Jun 8 2017 11:42 am

    Brilliant you are a slow traveller 🙂 Love to visit Mexico. Enjoyed reading your post. Shared.

    • / Jun 8 2017 12:29 pm

      Mexico is a rich (in culture and history at least) and varied country. There is even a Mexico Housesitter website, if you are interested.

      • globalhousesitterX2 / Jun 8 2017 1:06 pm

        Ummm, not sure about visa’s etc. Would be good for you to check out more than me?

  4. Ally Bean / Jun 8 2017 11:59 am

    What fun! I know how you feel about road trips. I enjoy them. But on the other hand I so want to experience the vibe of every place as if I lived there. Your solution is great.

    • / Jun 8 2017 12:31 pm

      Although we still enjoy road trips, I think this way of traveling has a lot going for it. I’m sure we’ll do more slow traveling in the future.

      • Ally Bean / Jun 8 2017 12:40 pm

        I love the idea. I’m more interested in depth than breadth when I travel, so this appeals to me.

  5. The Coastal Crone / Jun 8 2017 12:40 pm

    It is a beautiful place! You were fortunate to be able to spend time there. Will look forward to future posts about it.

    • / Jun 8 2017 6:01 pm

      It sounds like you’ve been there? It really is beautiful and the people are so warm and friendly. Even with our limited Spanish we were made to feel welcomed.

  6. karen207 / Jun 8 2017 1:11 pm

    That sounds to me like just the perfect way to travel, Janis. Funnily enough, I’ve been looking online at cottages on the ocean in Nova Scotia, dreaming of a day when I’ll rent one for maybe three months so that I can live my dream of “writing in a cottage by the sea”.
    Thanks for sharing your experience. Looking forward to the photos and stories to come.

    • / Jun 8 2017 6:03 pm

      I hope you are able to do that! Also, look in to house sitting possibilities there (and around the world). For taking good care of someone’s homes (and maybe a dog or cat), you can live rent-free.

  7. rporter610 / Jun 8 2017 1:57 pm

    So glad you got to see Oaxaca. It is my favorite place to go in Mexico. Maybe you read my blog post about it a year or so ago? It’s great that you could spend a chunk of time there. So much to see and do, and lots of fun to get to know the rhythm of the place.


    • / Jun 8 2017 6:05 pm

      We had several friends encourage us to go and also read several blogs about visiting Oaxaca (maybe yours too, I can’t remember… but I’ll check it out). We are anxious to go back.

  8. Ron Walker / Jun 8 2017 2:03 pm

    Great pictures, I hope to visit somewhere south of the border one of these days.

    • / Jun 8 2017 6:07 pm

      I hope you are able to go. There are places that cater more to tourists (beach towns, mainly) and those that feel more “authentic.” Both have their charms, but Oaxaca just felt right for us this time.

  9. Kate Crimmins / Jun 8 2017 2:13 pm

    Sounds wonderful. At least you could depend on the weather!

    • / Jun 8 2017 6:11 pm

      Actually, we had all different kinds of weather… it even hailed one day! It was mostly hot – not too bad – but Oaxaca is entering it’s rainy season so we had that too. Fortunately the rain was usually hard but brief and the lightning and thunder was amazing (we don’t get that very much in SoCal).

  10. Terri Webster Schrandt / Jun 8 2017 3:00 pm

    I just felt relaxed reading this Janis! I was just in San Diego for my brother’s engagement party and it was a whirlwind of dinners, family and friends! I didn’t do the things I wanted (partially due to June gloom and everyone having to work). Hans and I were just talking last night about moving to Colombia or Chile as ex-pats in 10 years 🙂 He’s been to Oaxaca! Looking forward to reading more about your trip 🙂

    • / Jun 8 2017 6:13 pm

      There is a big ex-pat community in Oaxaca. I talked to several who said that they had looked around the world and liked Oaxaca best. You might want to check it out!

  11. Anne Mehrling / Jun 8 2017 4:59 pm

    Reading about your trip is something to look forward to. Can’t wait!

  12. Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread / Jun 8 2017 5:12 pm

    Congrats on a successful trip that allowed you to relax and enjoy the area. 🙂 Glad you are back home safe and sound.

    • / Jun 8 2017 6:16 pm

      Traveling is great, but it is nice to come home. We are already talking about going back – maybe at another time of year.

  13. laura bruno lilly / Jun 8 2017 5:18 pm

    FANTASTIC! Will love reading whatever you decide to post about it!

  14. Kathy / Jun 8 2017 6:12 pm

    Sounds like you had a wonderful and relaxing time. I don’t do well sitting still, I’m pushing it if I stay somewhere for 2 weeks. Two-four days in one place when travelling is what I like best. I guess that’s how we did 18,000 miles in 72 days in our 5th wheel. 🙂

    • / Jun 8 2017 6:23 pm

      We actually didn’t do a lot of sitting (I still fit in my jeans after five weeks of eating pretty well 🙂 ). I love road trips too and plan to take many more of those in the years to come. It’s nice to vary travel a bit, depending on the location and the logistics. I’ve never traveled in a 5th wheel… maybe I should try that too!

      • Kathy / Jun 9 2017 7:56 am

        We have done the RV thing for almost 40 years but we do a lot of hotels too, it really depends on where and how long a trip is whether we fly or drive. Camping has its pros, your own bed and no dragging suitcases around. This is actually our first summer without a RV, our 5th was written-off in a hail storm and we aren’t sure if we’re going to get another one. We may have had our fill of pulling a big unit. 🙂 Maybe you should try it 🙂

  15. Still the Lucky Few / Jun 8 2017 7:55 pm

    I’m not the best world traveler any more, having spent many years flying here and there, sometimes, just like you, staying a long time. I’ve been to several locations in Mexico, loved a small village called Barra De Navidad, but have not been to Oaxaca. Enjoy your travels!

    • / Jun 9 2017 8:49 am

      The worst part of traveling is the flying (that’s a big reason we love road trips). I hope to go to Europe again one of these days, but the thought of the hassle plane travel has become, I’m shying away. Oaxaca was a quick (for us) non-stop flight…

      I’ll check out Barra De Navidad.

  16. Donna / Jun 8 2017 9:17 pm

    Welcome home, Janis! Your five weeks in Oaxaca sound amazing! I am so glad to hear that you have heaps of notes, photos and blog ideas. I miss your regular posts and can’t wait to read more!

    • / Jun 9 2017 8:52 am

      I know that you and I struggle with Thursday Doors opportunities in our respective home towns – not so in Oaxaca! I kept both my iPhone camera and my DSLR pretty busy.

  17. Gabe Burkhardt / Jun 9 2017 3:24 am

    Oaxaca looks like a great place to setle in for a few weeks to immerse yourselves. but I think you found the secret by renting a retreat (with your own private garden!) I find that staying in hotels or pensions for more than a few days leaves me feeling unsettled rather than relaxed and ready to explore new places.

    • / Jun 9 2017 8:54 am

      I agree with you. Hotels are fine for a few days, but they can start feeling pretty small (at least the ones we tend to stay in) after a while. Just having a kitchen made us feel more “at home,” even though we didn’t do much cooking.

  18. Parkit / Jun 9 2017 5:06 am

    We love Mexico!

    Checking out an area in depth is one of the reasons we got the RV. We want to stay put for 3-6 months is some areas while we Workamp. Then we can hike more, visit museums, get to know local spots, etc.

    • / Jun 9 2017 8:57 am

      There is a certain attraction to carrying around your “home” with you. Also, because you are more mobile and don’t need to commit to your length of stay, you can linger some places and move on quickly from others. We haven’t RV’d, but it does sound intriguing… I look forward to following your journey.

  19. Donna Cameron / Jun 9 2017 8:48 am

    Looking forward to hearing about your latest travel adventures, Janis … and to seeing your pictures!

  20. Joanne Sisco / Jun 9 2017 1:24 pm

    This is exactly how I would like to travel. I relish the idea of spending 6 to 8 weeks in one location, getting to know its rhythm and little treasures beyond what the casual tourist sees. Maybe someday I will be so lucky!
    Looking forward to hearing more about this adventure in slow travel 🙂

    • / Jun 9 2017 3:15 pm

      We really liked having a home base and venturing out every day. It was also nice not to need a car at all. We mostly walked, but we also took a few tours to areas outside the city center which required hiring a driver. It felt a little weird to come home and have to drive to the market rather than walk around the corner.

      • Joanne Sisco / Jun 9 2017 3:41 pm

        I know how you feel. Even though I’ve lived in this house for 25 years, I still miss being able to walk to the local market.

  21. Ann Coleman / Jun 9 2017 1:49 pm

    That looks like a wonderful trip! And like you, I appreciate both kinds of travel. I loved our French river cruise, where we were in a different town or city every day. But I also love going to Sanibel and renting a condo, and doing our best to become a “local” while we are there. The first kind of trip is better for exploring new areas, the second is better for rest and relaxation, I think.

    • / Jun 9 2017 3:20 pm

      We did a lot of exploring on this trip, but staying at a private home allowed us to feel more relaxed than we would have in a hotel room. There are a lot of snow birds – mostly from Canada – who come every year to escape the cold weather. I know they appreciate the relaxed pace too (especially since they don’t need to shovel snow while there).

  22. Keith / Jun 9 2017 2:09 pm

    Janis, thanks for the tour of Oaxaca. It looks wonderful. Welcome back to a little more hectic. Take care, Keith

  23. hiren shekhada / Jun 9 2017 11:22 pm

    Brilliant you are a slow traveller Love to visit Mexico. Enjoyed reading your post. Shared.

    • / Jun 10 2017 9:42 am

      I hope you are able to visit Mexico too! I had been to several of its coastal areas before, but never the interior. Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing!

  24. Anabel Marsh / Jun 10 2017 12:41 am

    I know exactly what you mean – we usually tour in the summer and always feel regretful when we move on because there’s still so much to see in a place. And the packing and unpacking – ugh! In the spring we often have a week somewhere and it’s so relaxing not to be living out of suitcases. Once John retires (ha! if ever) I’d like to spend longer in one place. Looking forward to hearing more about Mexico.

    • / Jun 10 2017 7:55 am

      Packing and unpacking… then packing again is the worst! It was so nice to actually be able to hang up all my clothes… and even do laundry when needed. I hope you get the chance to linger in some beautiful location.

  25. Leah / Jun 10 2017 3:13 am

    Slow travel certainly does allows for a completely different pace and way of seeing a place. While I still enjoy a quick visit to a major city for a few days, longer stays (especially if I’m able to stay in a truly residential neighbourhood) really give a better feel for the rhythm of life.

    • / Jun 10 2017 8:00 am

      We’ve enjoyed staying in Airbnbs for just that reason. It’s nice the feel (at least a little bit) part of the neighborhood.

  26. Alice / Jun 10 2017 5:13 am

    Sounds like a wonderful vacation! Going to one place and settling in, matching my rhythm to the city’s, is definitely my preferred way to travel. I look forward to seeing more of your pictures in the weeks to come.

    • / Jun 10 2017 8:04 am

      This was the first time we stayed for so long in one place and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I follow several bloggers who do housesits, which I think is a great way to stay in one location… usually for free.

  27. Lies Jack Kerouac told Me / Jun 10 2017 1:39 pm

    Looking forward to similar experiences soon, I hope.

  28. Dr Sock / Jun 11 2017 10:54 am

    Janis, I did some extended travel in Mexico many years ago, but Oaxaca was not one of the areas we visited. However, we did bring home some nice pieces of Oaxacan pottery, and I have wanted to go there ever since.


    • / Jun 15 2017 4:19 pm

      I sure hope you are able to visit Oaxaca! If you do, I have some restaurant and tour recommendations I could pass on to you.

  29. Green Global Trek / Jun 20 2017 3:58 am

    Fabulous! Renting a home rather than staying in a hotel for a short time, really is different. It also gives you a feel for a neighborhood that you would not get otherwise. This is how our nomadic travels began… every trip we took when our sons were still in high school, would end with me saying… but its too short, I still want to go to…. fill in the blank. When we finally did set out with no agenda and no time constraints, the joy of not having to rush because of lack of time is definitely a game changer. Five weeks in Oaxaca sounds fabulous! Thanks for sharing.


    • / Jun 20 2017 2:05 pm

      I think we may start to do more of this type of traveling. I love to see a lot of places, but I was always moved on with the thought, “when we go back…” Even spending five weeks in Oaxaca has left us with a desire to return… and we will for sure.

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