4 Ways Slow Travel Will Transform Your Study Abroad Experience

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IES Abroad
April 22, 2024
Students in Cape Town

While you’re studying abroad, it can be tempting to book a trip to a new city every weekend, but the cost can impact more than just your wallet. Frequent weekend travel can lead to burnout, financial stress, and a lack of connection with your host city—not to mention the environmental impact. 

The more sustainable solution for you and the globe? Slow travel! 

Slow travel is an intentional mindset focused on immersion and deeper connection rather than rushing through your bucket list. When studying abroad, this can mean traveling within your host country, exploring areas on foot or via public transportation, and savoring the journey as much as the destination. 

Don't let all the travel possibilities dazzle and distract you from the beauty found locally within your host country.

Slow travel is what transforms a trip into a life changing adventure. Here's the top four reasons, supported by our student Correspondents! 

Students in Nature - IES Abroad Nice

Live Like a Local

Picture this: you’re weaving  through the bustling city of Tokyo to get sushi and tempura with friends. Or perhaps you’re exploring the rich art and architecture scene in Barcelona. These are just a few of the experiences you'll have with your newfound friends: late night chats, spontaneous adventures, becoming a regular at a nearby café. They’re the kind of memories that will linger long after your Instagram story fades. 

Taking the time to truly practice the language, indulge in local cuisine, and immerse yourself in the culture creates a one-of-a-kind experience. It allows you to support local businesses and to live in a way that makes you feel like so much more than a visitor. Dive into “A Pitch for Traveling Within Your Country” for Maple Buescher’s advice on finding the perfect balance between travel and spending time in your host country. 

Students gardening- IES Abroad Quito

Commit to Global Good

Study abroad is so much more than checking off a bucket list. It’s a chance for you to learn more about the world and how you can make a difference. From taking courses about Designing the Sustainable City to adding more walking, biking, or public transit to your commute, you’ll connect in a more sustainable way! In her blog “Study Abroad in a Time of Climate Change”, Isabel Pineo weighs her awareness of travel's environmental impact with study abroad's ability teach different ways other countries approach challenges, making her a more committed global citizen.

Isabel Pineo Headshot
“For every one of us, study abroad is an opportunity to understand certain realities more deeply and personally than we ever could from a classroom. These lessons become a part of us because we’ve lived them firsthand, seen the pain, and participated in the solution. If you are considering study abroad now, ask yourself how you can turn your time overseas into something more than just an escape.”
Isabel P. • Case Western Reserve University • IES Abroad Freiburg
Zamora Field Trip - IES Abroad Salamanca

Spend Less, Experience More

In the era of travel TikToks and long to-do-lists, it can feel like more travel = more memories. Spoiler alert: it’s not true! 

Staying put can actually enhance your adventure in ways you never imagined. Slow travel means fewer budget airline headaches, more money for local events, and a thank you from your well-rested body for dodging travel exhaustion. Your program will have incredible field trips either included in your program fees or subsidized by IES Abroad, lowering the cost while handing you the reins to make memories, not itineraries. Students who have walked in your shoes agree: sometimes, less is truly more. For a behind the scenes peek, dig into Kyla Hunter’s exploration of Spain in “IES Abroad Field Trips: Far Away, Yet Close to Home”. 

Flowers in Nantes

Stop and Smell the Roses

FOMO is out and JOMO is in—yes, it's possible to truly feel the joy in missing out! Study abroad isn't just a change of scenery; it's embracing a new rhythm of life. 

It's about diving headfirst into the unknown, like our correspondent Kees Lynch did when he ventured into Amsterdam's vibrant culture. In his piece, “Biking in Amsterdam, Part 1: The Experience,” Kees invites you on a journey filled with curiosity, exploration, and the sheer joy of embracing the unexpected.

Kees Lynch Headshot
“My mother, who grew up in the Netherlands, told me that everyone would wear rain boots while they biked, and before entering the classroom, took them off, so that everyone was in their socks for the whole school day. This is a typically gezellig scene—just imagine a group of school children, learning and playing in the warm classroom, in their socks, while the rain batters the windows and the wind shakes the trees. So, by biking in the rain to class, the grocery store, a café, or wherever else you may find yourself in Amsterdam, you are participating in a fundamental and universally shared aspect of the quirky Dutch culture.”
Kees L. • Skidmore College • IES Abroad Amsterdam


Let slow and steady wins the race be a guiding light during your time abroad. It's a promise you can make to foster sustainability, cultural immersion, and personal growth — which just so happens to also be a part of our Global Good Commitment

Allow yourself to get the full study abroad experience, uncovering moments you'll daydream about for years; all while finding that sweet balance amidst academics, wellness, and budget. Say so long to FOMO, take a breath, slow down, and seize the chance to dive deep into the heart of your host country.  

Eager for the adventure? Apply now! ✈️

P.S. Looking for more of unfiltered student stories? Check out our student blogs and follow along on social.

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