Shivya Nath often called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan and environmentalist. But in her heart, she is just a girl who travels.
She is the author of National Bestseller ” The Shooting Star: A girl, her backpack and the world”
She believes in slow and sustainable travel, embracing local ways of life, spending time with indigenous communities, exploring places off the beaten path and minimizing my environmental impact.
How did you get to where you are today? What is your story?
I grew up in a protective Indian family in Dehradun, a valley at the base of the Himalayas, and spent my childhood wondering what lay beyond the mountains I could see from my rooftop. Upon finishing high school, I went to Singapore to study, with big dreams and a big student loan.
As luck would have it, I graduated in the middle of the financial recession of 2009, when most companies I wanted to work with had ceased hiring. I landed a job with the Singapore Tourism Board, where my experiments with social media began, and I first began following the journey of travel bloggers around the world.
It was impossible to tame my restless cubicle-bound soul, so in 2011, I took a 2 month sabbatical from work. I went flash-packing across Western Europe with a friend, and volunteer-travelled by myself in the high Himalayas of India.
In those two months, I saw, experienced and lived more than I ever had before, and decided to quit my first and only corporate job with a dream of travelling the world on my own terms.
In 2018, I was awarded silver for best writing in a travel blog at TBC Asia Awards.
In 2019, my work was featured on The Washington Post, among travellers changing the way we think of the world. In 2020, I won gold for best communicator at the WTM Responsible Tourism Awards India.
She believes in Sustainable and Responsible Tourism.
In India, many of us find it difficult to convince our family before taking such a step? How did you convince your family?
Hailing from a small mountain town, I’ve fought many a battle to convince the ‘adults’ in my family to let me go travelling, solo or otherwise, and sometimes to have them give up on me so I could just do as I please. I’ve been quite a rebel from the start, so I must admit that my methods have been ruthlessly aggressive sometimes. Based on my own experiences, Indian parents are most likely to oppose a life of travelling because of concerns for safety, money, career, and “it not being the societal thing to do”, in that order. These are my ways (most tried & tested, some anticipated) to deal with such concerns, and I hope they’ll work for you too!
- Grow them into it: You need to take baby steps, not just for your parents but also for yourself. Grow them into the idea of you travelling, travelling often, travelling solo, travelling far.
- Don’t ask them for money: It’s not about how rich your parents are. As a rule of thumb, if you ask them to finance your travels, however well-budgeted or extravagant they might be, they are bound to demand control over where you go, who with, how often, and rightly so. If you want independence while travelling, you have to earn your own means to finance it.
- They Don’t need to know everything: This isn’t about lying, not really. This is about being practical. Sitting half way across the globe (or even half way across the country), your parents will only be panicking knowing that you are alone in an unknown town, without so much as knowing the language.
- Keep in Touch: Having made point 3, it is still important to keep in touch when you promise to. Treat that as not only a way to assure your parents that you’re safe, but also as a trigger to alarm them if something goes awfully, awfully wrong.
- Don’t position it as ‘just a holiday’: To me, holidaying paints the idea of a luxurious getaway, a pampering spa, fine dining, and the like. On the other hand, to travel is to seek unique experiences, understand the culture & people of a place, sample local food at popular joints, and do something that you can’t anticipate simply by googling it
How are you financially sustaining your lifestyle?
When I started, although the income was unsteady, I managed to fund 80% of my travels in the through travel blogging that includes epic adventures in Central America, Europe, Georgia, Jordan, the Caribbean and of course, India! What hasn’t changed is staying true to my travel style, and never recommending anything to my readers that I haven’t personally experienced and loved.
Currently my income mainly comes from:
- Long term / repeat partnerships with travel brands I love
- Destination-based travel campaigns
- Branded content
- Social media partnerships
- Freelance work
- Instagram is directly or indirectly helping fund my travels.
I started 2015 on a private island in Panama, with 150 rupees ($2.5 USD) in my account. That’s the lowest my account balance has ever been since I quit my corporate job over four years ago.
Now that I’ve paid off my massive student loan of 26,000$ so I can be more picky about what I work on.
The world is her office
Why do you think it is important to follow your passion?
What Inspires you the most? Do you have a super hero in life?
If you want to change one thing in the world what would it be?
In the present situation when tourism industry is at a halt, how are you keeping yourself motivated?
The on-going pandemic has brought the global tourism industry to a halt. In 2020, I was to speak at The Economic Times Women’s Forum in India and at an environmental conference in Uzbekistan. I had dreamt of going back to Iran and travelling overland to Azerbaijan. All my travel plans stand cancelled.
In fact, with borders indefinitely closed, I’m compelled to re-evaluate my life as a digital nomad. I’m currently looking for a base within India, my home country, for the foreseeable future.
I’m working towards new passion projects, getting back to freelance writing to reach a wider audience on topics close to my heart like sustainability and vegan travel, and looking to collaborate with local organisations to build environmentally-conscious community tourism initiatives.
At the beginning of 2019, I took a pledge to cut down on flying as much as possible – and now I’m hooked to slow land journeys! In January 2019, I embarked on an epic solo land journey from Thailand to India via Myanmar, and through February and March, my partner and I travelled overland from the Persian Gulf, through southern Iran, to Armenia. In August, I crossed the border from Uzbekistan to Tajikistan, and we ended 2019 overlanding in Southern Africa!
Milestones of her Journey
Author “The Shooting Stars”
Featured in National Geographic Traveller India
Key Speaker Sodelhi Conference