The Joy of Slow Travel.

Goa homestay, Goan Portuguese house, Aldona

I’m sitting on a window sill as I write this, feeling the cool breeze on my face and watching the incessant rains spring new life into the wilderness that surrounds my (temporary) home in Goa. The joy of driving, walking and just being in the monsoons is not mine alone. The village folk are out in their carpet-like rice paddies, tilling the land in their colorful ponchos, humming along cheerful tunes at the late monsoon arrival. It took me a few days of being here to slip into the susagade mode of Goa, feeling content with life, appreciating the little things like hot tea and freshly-baked Goan poi on rainy evenings, happy to gaze out at the wild beauty that surrounds me.

Goa homestay, Goan Portuguese house, Aldona
Soaking in the rains in Goa.
Goa in monsoon, Goa rains
The village folk on their rice paddies in rainy Goa (blurred by the raindrops on the camera!).

At my Goan-Portuguese homestay, I’ve seen travellers come and leave, but I’m the one who stays. 2-3 days, hours of sightseeing or shopping, half-baked conversations, half-indulged tastebuds, and they leave. Never fully appreciating the way the locals live here. Or walking through the sleepy village in the afternoon, greeting the local women in their nightgowns as they exchange neighbourhood gossip. Or salivating at the aromas wafting through village homes. Or feeling gleeful on hearing the bread man’s cycle horn, for local breads fresh out of the oven have arrived. Or trying to get a village shop to open during their afternoon siesta, because life trumps business and money. Or just laying on the rolling meadows, feeling the rains soak your soul.

Goa Aldona, Cancio House, Amarals homestay Aldona
The bread man at my homestay in Goa.

A month after I gave up my apartment in Delhi and went location independent, I found myself worn out from moving constantly. Then I gave myself a chance to slow travel, to stay in one place for 2 weeks to a month, appreciate (and often experiment with) the way the locals live, unearth its best kept secrets on a bicycle or two wheeler, adapt my taste buds to the local cuisine, and give myself plenty of time to while away, work, and slowly but deeply fall in love.

kasar devi, kasar devi uttarakhand, uttarakhand places to visit
Soul searching in Kasar Devi, Uttarakhand.

Slow travel has changed my travel philosophy; no longer a fleeting crush on a gorgeous place, travelling to me is about a deeper relationship with a place, its people, its food, and the memories it leaves me with. It has led me to discovering Goa away from the beaches in its sleepy Portuguese villages and pristine interiors, soul-searching in the once hippie town of Kasar Devi surrounded by the snow-capped Himalayas of Uttarakhand, living in something of a utopian bubble in Auroville, cycling across the countryside of northern Thailand, and living amongst and introspecting with the nuns in Ladakh.

Ladakh photos, Ladakh landscapes
Introspective in Ladakh’s barren beauty.
Auroville food, Auroville cafes
Soulful organic food at Well Cafe, Auroville.
northern Thailand, Thailand cycling
Cycling through northern Thailand.

I’m going to go ahead and give you some free advice. Plan one long break – club long weekends, fake a medical leave, do whatever it takes – and slow travel. Go to a place you love, or one you know nothing about. Choose a homestay over a drab hotel room. Plan nothing else. Talk to the locals, be adventurous with your food, spend do-nothing days, and let the road show you a different way of life.

Where would you like to slow travel?

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  1. Roberto Amaral says:

    I can see that you have penned (typed) this from your heart!!!

  2. Wow. You inspire me. I left my software job a few months back because I wanted to break free of the monotony and I just went over to travel to Singapore, parts of Malaysia and Bali. I did most of it alone and the memories would always stay with me because you’d know how its like for Indian girls especially the ones like me raised in no metro cities and belonging to conservative families. I made plans, cooked up stories and somehow just did it. It feels good but when I look at you and your posts, I know I have so much more to do. I am on my way though and I’ll find the right thing and the right places soon. For now, I just give my all to writing which is my first love 🙂
    Thanks for the beautiful stories. Go on!
    (This might be personal but don’t you sometimes start feeling lonely while you’re on so many of your solo travel expeditions?)

  3. Shivya. Such a beautiful post.

  4. I love u n envy u equally 😀way to go girl !! Jaa jee le apni zindagi

  5. Love your writing! Great post, enjoy Goa and your time there!

  6. I visited Goa with my wife and children 7 years ago. We stayed at Braganza Hotel in Mapusa. The city is crowded. Traffic, pollution. If the pollution doesn’t kill you, the traffic will. One must be extremely careful crossing busy streets there. Towards the end of our stay we stayed in a hotel close to Kalangot beach. The beach was awesome. What I did not like was the segregated area for white foreigners, and one for the locals or coloured folk like me. Otherwise, Goa is a land of mystery, history and beauty. The blue mountains are fascinating and virtually unexplored. There is a funny story I read about Goa in a book called “Sindh Revisited: In the footsteps of Sir Richard Burton (not the actor) . Sir Richard fell in love with
    a nun at one of the convents in Goa. They planned to elope one night, but something went drastically wrong. Sir Richard broke into the convent on the said night, opened the door where the nun lay sleeping, put her over his shoulder and ran out of the convent. The nun started screaming and this is when Richard realized he picked up the wrong nun: It was the Mother Superior. He dropped her right there and ran for his life, leaving his lover and the convent forever.

    1. Whoa, thanks for sharing that trivia! What a story.

      The next time you’re in Goa, stay in Aldona, with the family I did, and I can promise you your experiences will be nothing like you’ve experienced before in Goa. A different world.

  7. You said so much that I wanted to say! Seriously, once you experience slow travel, you can’t go back to that ‘two-three day’ thing. I really like that fake medical leave idea. I have done that when I was working full time. 🙂 Thank you for yet another refreshing post!

    1. Cheers to both, slow travel and fake medical leaves, haha 😉

  8. Traveling and writing as beautifully as you do SHivya, you have me green with envy. Enjoy 🙂

    1. I hope that means you’re planning your own trip soon then!

  9. I guess my problem is the one most commonly faced by travel lovers- lack of time! Otherwise, I’d love to slow travel for once.

  10. Such a beautiful post, Shivya! We do slow travel at times and can never stop raving about the experience. I love being a part of the place and that is something that happens only during slow travel. I would love to slow travel to all places (am greedy that way). But yeah, I would love to slow travel in at least one country per continent and live with the native people.
    We will be doing a slow travel to Bhutan this year and I can’t wait! 🙂

    1. I can imagine Bhutan will be the perfect place to slow travel. On my wish list too. Tell me how it goes!

  11. I haven’t been able to do this much,.. but this is exactly my kind of travel ! Am sharing this Shivya !

    1. I hope you get to soon! And thanks for sharing it Ruch 🙂

  12. Deboshri Paul says:

    You take my breath away Shivya! The peace in your heart reflects beautifully in your words. Loved this piece. Straight from your soul!

  13. Not for many days but I did that in Goa last year over a long weekend. Just went to South Goa with 2 friends with no plans in mind and didn’t try to visit many tourist spots. Booked a service apartment, made tea for ourselves, bicycled in quiet countryside of South Goa and just relaxed. It felt like no pressure to tick mark tourist spots off the list. Would love to do same in a different country but cost associated with international travel makes me greedy to cover up as much as possible in short time of 8-9 days. May be after few more countries, I would experiment slow travel in a remote unknown country 🙂

    1. Sounds like you had a fun, relaxing time in Goa! Try it on your next international trip. The beauty of slow traveling in another country is that you actually end up spending less money and experiencing more than the regular touristy stuff lets you.

  14. Slow travel is not always possible with work and the kind of lifestyles that we lead, but we try to do it whenever we can. We have always loved our slow travel experiences. 🙂

    I love the way you live, Shivya!

  15. Beautiful post, I love the idea of slow travel and truly making a connection with the place you are instead of just fleeting in and out to tick it off the list. We can become so caught up in getting to everywhere we want to go, that we don’t truly experience any of it because we are rushed off our feet, and all the places end up merging into one. I certainly am guilty of that in the past! On our next big backpacking trip beginning in August I am hoping to go to fewer places, and spend more time in each. I guess it will be about striking a healthy balance of seeing everything I want to, yet having enough time to really savour each place and experience it more closely to the way I imagine the locals would. I think that is what travel is all about!

    1. I absolutely agree, Christie! I’m always struggled with how much I won’t be able to see in this lifetime, but I think I’ve finally made peace with it. I would experience wherever I go deeply, or not at all.

  16. I also agree with you, traveling is about your relationship with the place, its people and food…it makes everything more special and unforgettable. I would do a slow trip in a place that I once were, the Galapagos Islands. I would longer in each island and enjoy as much as possible. Its most amazing place I have ever been. 😀 great post.

    1. It’s high on my wishlist too! Hope to make it there soon enough, and have enough $$ to slow travel 😉

  17. Over the last few trips I’ve made and rushed through, I increasingly feel the need for this form of travel. The biggest challenge lies in convincing yourself ( & fellow travellers sometimes), that in spite of the lesser numbers of ‘destinations’ covered, the trip will still be worth it, esp given the restrictions a regular job imposes on the number of leaves you can take.
    Needs self-training, probably lots of it. 🙂

    1. Which is why going solo is a good way of experiencing the world sometimes. Even while slow travelling, I tend to get far more out of my comfort zone when I’m alone, than when I’m with a friend.

  18. Abhishek Vaid says:

    Good Idea…
    But how do you manage the cost involved with Slow Travel and Longer Stays ?

    Nevertheless great job !!!

    1. Overall, it actually works out to cheaper to rent a place for a longer time (as opposed to different places for 2-3 days each), discover cheap local eateries and skip expensive transport costs. Back when I was renting an apartment in Delhi, I probably spent more in a month than I do now while slow traveling in a small village / town in rural India.

  19. I always dreamed Goa as my retirement plan.. I love the place to core.. Hope u r enjoying the monsoons.. Here Delhi is too hot to survive…

    1. Life is too short to leave all your dreams for your retirement 😉

  20. Prathibha says:

    Lovely post. It inspires me to slow travel instead of packed weekend travel!

    Way to go girl! Keep exploring and keep sharing! 🙂

    1. I’m glad it does, Prathibha! Where do you plan to go then?

  21. we love to slow and the husband …especially him, before marriage i used to be like travelling to a location and wanting to see this that etc etc….but he says the whole point of travel is to unwind!!!!

    So we like take our time in a destination, stay for couple of days (and like you see people come & go!)… helps that he has a long summer vacation as part of his job 🙂

  22. Amazing post..!! I love to travel but i got shifted to abroad( UAE) few months back.. I am planning some trips when i get back to India.. Especially North-east… I love that place.. Goa,road trip to ladkah…my bucket list goes on…:)

  23. where the funds flow from???

  24. Kara Freedman says:

    Sounds like beautiful advice to me. I definitely prefer staying in one place over hopping around. I’ll be leaving for Ghana at the end of the month for exactly that – I have a job there waiting that should help me explore the country as much as I can while keeping a home base.

  25. Thanks @shivya for this awesome article and your advices. Impressed from the first visit to the-shooting-star.


  26. i really like of this article “The Joy of Slow Travel”
    people try ed always slowly drive. because our life is safe….for slowy drive.
    thanks for this stuff.

  27. I agree that it’s only once you’ve really lived in a place that you can see below its surface. But not everyone can afford such lengthy time off work, which is why I think working or studying (if you are a student like me) abroad for six months or a year is another brilliant option.

  28. Prathibha says:

    Lovely post Shivya. I really like the way you write. Totally agree about slow-travel. I keep reading this post once every few months and each read feels still fresh and as if I am experiencing what you did. Thank you.

  29. varun teja k says:

    Really Grate article…

  30. Pingback: Mindfulness When You Travel Extends Far Beyond Social Media - We Blog The World
  31. That’s amazing, i always plan to spend some valuable and amazing time whenever I travel but due to the situation, i won’t get time to spend 2 to 3 days in the place. I just loved reading this article mainly seeing myself in the places and enjoying how it could be in real. Thanks for the article. I would plan my trip this time for some days so that I can live some special moments there. I will check for the travel offer and will go soon using a car rental because that is the best experience I feel, one to travel alone and second self-driving using Zoom car. I will share my experience this time ::)

  32. Harwinderjeet says:

    Yes that’s true…Well we all have our own style of traveling and I also like to travel slow it gives you enough time to feel and realize that every place, every road, every thing have something to say. What you need to do is sit silently and feel the beauty of every place.

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