ellen and tedly on boracay, near diniwid at west cove

Long-term, slow travel planning: How we do it

A reader is about to embark on a slow travel adventure in early retirement with her husband, and we are thrilled for them! She sent us a question about long-term travel planning – and how we divide the ‘work of travel.’

It’s something I’ve meant to put together in one post. We talk about it here and there in passing in several posts – but this will lay out how we do what we do.

Long-term travel planning

The question:

How do you divide and conquer the work of travel so no one party feels overburdened with planning/logistics, etc.?

earthvagabonds.com reader

Great question!

Simple answer: Teamwork.

But: Tedly does more work because he wants to, and because I let him.

Now let’s take a closer looks at the details.

Long answer on long-term travel planning


Tedly likes to count our time in months. As slow travelers, we have a certain number of months before he turns 75 or so, when he might want to slow down.

So far, we’ve been at this travel thing for nearly 57 months together (I was in Mexico for a few months before him at the beginning).

In those 57 months together, we’ve slow traveled on four continents, in 20 countries, in well over one hundred cities, towns, and villages.

But – we’ve only been to 20 countries in about five years. We still have a lot to see in the coming 216 months, or so, one month at a time… one country at a time…

How we pick destinations

  1. Have we been there yet?
  2. Can we get there cheaply?
  3. What’s the visa situation for Americans?
  4. What’s there that we want to see?

We get to a region as cheaply as possible. And then we are set to explore that entire region at our leisure — by land. What better way is there to slow travel?

As budget slow travelers in early retirement, cost is always a factor. But even that can be managed so we can enjoy more expensive places like Europe with enough planning.

I pushed for Europe. We knew we would go over our $2,000 monthly budget, but, as I reasoned in a teamwork meeting, we could go to Southeast Asia after Europe and spend less each month. Over more time, I reasoned, the outflow would be the same.

Tedly agreed with my logic.

Side note: We marvel at how lucky it was we were in Europe when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was able to find a great doctor to perform a double mastectomy.

Dream destinations

Tedly has always dreamed of traveling to places he’s read about. He has specific places he wanted to see, such as Lake Atitlan, Cinque Terre, and Phuket.

As we travel, we learn and grow. And we become aware of places less-touristed. Like Krabi or Pai in Thailand instead of Phuket, for example.

We were supposed to get to India after a trip home this year. I’ve always been called to India for some strange reason. But those plans are out the window as the ‘Rona redefines our travel experiences.

Before the pandemic, we didn’t worry to much about what ‘dream destinations’ we were going to see first. Almost all decisions were based on logic for cost reduction.

After the pandemic…? The world is changing fast, and it will keep changing in ways we cannot guess.

Right now, we are feeling out the ‘new normal’ in relation to our travel dreams. We will pick destinations based on cost, as always. But now cost includes consideration of quarantine or testing requirements.

As of this writing, there are few countries where we can easily enter without extra COVID-19 expense, with American passports.

How we find airfare

We both watch airfare. We look from different devices, with different VPNs. Usually, I do the actual booking, but we are together when it’s done.

From Greece, we snagged a great deal on a flight from Athens to Singapore. It cost under $400 on Scoot Airlines for both of us. (And Scoot is still in business!) That was the start of our Southeast Asia travel time.

We are unsure of what flight prices will be like in the ‘new normal’.

But we will not stay in Southeast Asia forever, so hopefully we can leave this region without breaking the bank. We aren’t too worried. Flights from Manila to JFK in New York are roughly $500 as of this writing, for example, and we don’t fly a lot.

We slow travel by bus, ride shares like Grab and BlaBla Car, trains, and ferries whenever possible. I have used the site Rome2Rio as a launch point sometimes.

However, Tedly generally does more of the travel planning by land.

Related: Onward travel proof that’s legit and cheap

How we pick accommodations

I am a ‘low maintenance’ woman. I don’t require much. No fancy accommodations or closets full of clothing – no need for checked bags and I never use a hair dryer. No dress-up date nights. I pretty much look a like a vagabond most days.

Heck, I don’t even need an engagement diamond. Tedly offered, I declined because instead– let’s use that money to travel!

I have only one requirement: wherever we stay must have air conditioning. I cannot live in the tropics without it.

In this area of Malay, Aklan, Philippines, we sometimes get power outages. I can handle some time without AC, but not 24/7. (I suffer from many Tamoxifen-related side effects, including hot flashes accompanied by anxiety.)

Tedly’s only ‘requirement’ is for some type of view or outdoor seating area. (Of course, I enjoy that as well.)

He narrows down the selection based on reviews and location once price, air conditioning, and a view are established.

Sometimes Tedly shows me pictures of a rental and asks my opinion. Sometimes he doesn’t. I don’t demand to see a rental, especially not for stays shorter than a month.

I imagine most women are not like me, and I guess most women would prefer to know more about the ‘nesting’ before arrival.

Sure – I want to be comfortable, but I also know we eventually move on and the rental is not my ‘home’. And I’m comfortable not having a permanent ‘home’. For now, anyway.

Related: How to get AirBnb deals for month-long stays

Travel days

On travel days, we works as a team. Tedly sends me screen shots of maps and I save them to our only smartphone – and old iPhone. If our ‘landlord’ has WhatsApp, I add their number and make contact, and explain that we only are connected on WiFi — unless we get a data SIM card in our host country.

We know where we are going before we leave. Sounds simple enough – but with no instant smartphone connection most of the time, we are, in this way, like old-fashioned travelers.

Long-term travel planning = teamwork

So that is an overview of how we divide and conquer the work of travel. This is what works for us, and is meant to be simply that – information on how we do it. Your approach might be far different.

For us, it’s mostly teamwork, but Tedly does tend to do more of the ‘work’.

However, he enjoys it. Going back 19 years, to our dating days, he’s always enjoyed planning day trips and week-long vacations. And I’ve mostly always enjoyed what he’s planned.

I do get really tired of cities. He knows that. Lucky for us, it worked out perfectly for the pandemic and lockdowns, because we aren’t in a big city.

And we both like that fact right now.

Thanks for reading, “Long-term travel planning: How we do it.”

Do you have a question about a budget slow travel, early retired lifestyle?

Contact us.

Earth Vagabonds

At the moment, we are Ellen, Tedly, and his mom Diane, who came to travel the Philippines for the winter and ended up ‘stuck’ from the pandemic.


World traveler


World traveler

One thought on “Long-term, slow travel planning: How we do it

  1. Good information- thank you! Agree, team work is the key. It sounds like you play to the strengths and interests of each party – very wise approach. My husband and I are project managers and like checklists.

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