My long South American summer, and tips of slow travelling

2 April 2020

"In the months of December, January and February, and decided, instead of going home over Christmas, to dedicate all of that time to further discovering and appreciating my host country." Céline shares her travelling experiences with us in her fourth blog.


One of the incredible opportunities that a year abroad in South America brings is the chance to get a few months of summer break in the middle of the year, to fulfil all your wildest travelling dreams, your internship abroad ambitions, or even both if you are well-organised!

I had the particular luck of being allotted with three whole months of summer vacation, in the months of December, January and February, and decided, instead of going home over Christmas, to dedicate all of that time to further discovering and appreciating my host country. With so much time on my hands, I decided to opt for travelling slowly, mindfully, and to try and immerse myself as much in local culture as I possibly could.  From this experience I have compiled a list of, for anyone who might have enough time to dedicate to slow travelling over their year abroad.

1. Consider Workaway

Workaway.com is a fantastic platform that allows travellers to find private homes to live in for free, in exchange for a few hours of work every day. With possibilities to give a hand in farms, hostels, NGOs, schools, cultural centres, boats, families in need of babysitters, or construction projects, workaway truly has a project for everyone, and is a great alternative if you need to travel cheap, as many hosts not only provide free lodging but also free food for an average of 4 to 5 hours of work a day. In many cases, workaways also allow you to live an incredible cultural exchange, discover beautiful and off the beaten track regions, and to built great and lasting friendships with your hosts. 


During the first few weeks of my summer holidays, I decided to plunge into the workaway world by volunteering to work with horses in a finca in the West of Argentina. In exchange for a few hours of stable cleaning and horse care every day, I had the incredible opportunity to get to train beautiful competitive endurance horses in stunning desert landscapes at the bottom of the Andes mountain range, while living in the gorgeous oasis village of Barreal. Every evening and lunch, I would eat with the owner of the finca, Ricardo, and the other volunteer, and Ricardo would explain local and national politics and customs. During our horseback rides, he would also explain the region’s history and geological features, while the paid workers at the finca would also gladly discuss the socioeconomic issues the region was facing. I can safely say I got a much deeper understanding of Argentine culture and the current political situation through this experience, all while visiting the incredible region of San Juan.

2. Use slow transportation 

While most people nowadays tend to opt for the fastest mode of transport when traveling, and often travel by plane (especially in a country like Argentina, which is about 11 times bigger than the UK!), it would be a sad omission not to consider other forms of transportation. Slower modes of transportation such as buses, trains, or cars are probably cheaper, definitely more ecological, and are usually also a fantastic way to discover landscapes you might otherwise have missed.

Since I have arrived in Argentina last July, I have taken a total of 32 buses, many of which were night buses, my longest journey being 37 hours long. While days and nights in buses certainly leave you with stiff legs and necks, I have to say there is something magical in waking up with the first light of day peaking through the bus curtains to find that you are in an entirely new landscape from a few hours before. From the winding mountain passes to the most interminably straight desert roads, there are no landscape views I’ve caught from a bus window that I would rather trade for a shorter plane journey.

Another great way to travel slowly, and relatively cheaply, is to rent or borrow a car with a few friends and head on a great road-trip adventure. Courageous souls may also opt for hitchhiking, and many guides on hitchhiking in South America can be found on the web.

3. Be flexible

The golden rule to slow travelling is to have a loose plan, but to be ready to improvise, and be flexible with your time. Who knows when you might have to deviate from your meticulously drawn out travel-timeline? Maybe you will fall in love with your workaway placement and decide to extend your stay, follow the incredible advice of an off-the-beaten-track village a kind shop-keeper will tell you about, or even be invited for asado (Argentinian barbecue) by strangers on a Sunday!  


By: Céline Dogsé