Tales of wanderlust
At 30, Shivya Nath has travelled to over fifty countries and been featured in several national and international publications. Today at Museum of Goa, Pilerne, Shivya Nath will launch her book ‘The Shooting Star’ followed by an interaction. NT BUZZ out finds more about the traveller
VENITA GOMES | NT BUZZ
In recent times, solo journeys and road trips are gaining a lot of popularity. Many youngsters are moving away from their chaotic lifestyle and are going off to destinations which are less explored, to experience the scenic beauty of the world and to meet new people and learn about different cultures across the world.
Among these is Shivya Nath. Happy to be called ‘a nomad’, Shivya has no permanent address. Though she grew up in Dehradun, she left her home long ago to travel and explore the world.
The corporate life
It all began after she went off to Singapore to study, post completing high school. “I had big dreams and also a big student’s loan to pay back. 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 their hiring,” says Shivya.
After landing a job with the Singapore Tourism Board, Shivya slowly learnt everything she knows today about social media, and started following the journey of travel bloggers across the world.
She then took a two-month sabbatical from work and went flash-packing across Western Europe with a friend and also volunteer-travelled to the Himalayas. In these two months, she experienced a different life and she realised that she had to quit her job.
Venturing into the world of travel
Thus, at age 23 (in 2011), she quit her corporate job; gave up her home; sold her belongings and started seeking adventures off the beaten path and looking for ways to get travel funds.
Today, nearly seven years later, she has travelled the world, of which for five years she had no home or a permanent address and has now written a book about her journey - ‘The Shooting Star’. “‘The Shooting Star’ charts my journey from the cubicle to the road and from small-town India to remote corners of the globe. I write candidly about my personal battles and triumphs, my relationships, moving encounters on the road and why I choose to challenge social conventions – through travel stories,” she says.
Her own book
The book published by Penguin has been ranked the #1 bestseller in travel writing on Amazon and Shivya states that through it she wants to challenge people, especially in India, to think differently about their approach towards travel and life.
“Just like a shooting star is a magical yet fleeting phenomenon in the sky, I like to think of my travels and life too as magical yet fleeting,” she says.
Ups and downs about her travel life
But Shivya admits that she did have a tough time convincing herself as well as her family, to begin this adventure. But with a strong-mind and determination she took baby steps in the midst of contemplations.
Recalling her first solo trip to the cold mountain desert of Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, she admits that it was a dream come true.
“It was the first time I slept under millions of stars and the Milky Way, hitch-hiked with strangers, hiked alone, swapped life stories with monks and nuns, and realised that there is so much more to life than earning money in a cubicle,” she says.
During her travels she has also bumped into several people and had plenty of lifetime experiences which have made most of her journeys memorable. “I have fond memories of my six-month trip in Central America - I saw wild dolphins playing in front of my rancho in Panama, lived with an indigenous Mayan family in Guatemala, boarded down a volcano in Guatemala, lived with the last indigenous farmers of Costa Rica - and so much more!” she reveals.
Though it all seems like a lot of fun, she has also faced a lot of ups and downs; some of which were nightmarish experiences. “I’ve spent a night on a broken down bus in the middle of nowhere in Gujarat, been mugged in Costa Rica, been stalked in Ethiopia and gotten lost in a forest with a repulsive guide in the Dominican Republic,” recounts Shivya but nonetheless she says, “They made good stories to me.”
Funding her trips
A travel blogger, blogging is important for Shivya as it supports her financially. However, she believes that it is not important to get so engrossed in it that you lose connect with the local scenery while travelling. “I try balancing both by not posting in real time, but after I’ve had enough time to slow down and experience a place,” says Shivya. “I get most of my income through travel blogging and freelancing, and save every single penny I earn, to travel. Travelling slowly allows me to cut down on many expenses - for example, getting long term rates on accommodation, figuring out public transport, eating at local joints etc.”
Tips and more
For those who wish to set out on travel journeys just like her, Shivya suggests that they should not follow the footsteps of anyone but go with an intention to do what they love and do things that inspire them. Her advice for travellers is to not just travel but also slow down and consider their impact on the environment and locals. “Your trips will be far more fulfilling when you make more conscious choices,” she concludes.
(The Shooting Star- Shivya Nath will be launched on October 28 at Museum of Goa, Pilerne. Post this, Shivya will be in conversation with Nupura Hautamaki - content creator at Little Black Book Goa and will also interact with the audience through question and answers, touching on topics like solo travel, the life of a digital nomad, chasing dreams despite practical obstacles and sustainable travel.)