Published: 03rd August 2020
Just a girl who travels: How this 32-year-old digital nomad gave up her job, her home to explore the world
Shivya Nath tells us about her innumerable adventures as she travels around the world solo, blogs about it and even has written a book on
An adventurous life does not necessarily mean climbing mountains, swimming with sharks, or jumping off cliffs. It means risking yourself by leaving a little piece of you behind in all those you meet along the way
— Shawna Grapentin
Nine years ago when Shivya Nath was 23 years old, she left her regular 9-to-5 corporate job with a dream of travelling the world. In 2013, she gave up her home, sold most of her belongings, packed up her life into a backpack and decided to hit the road indefinitely. Cut to 2020, Shivya is a well-known storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, Instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan and environmentalist.
At heart, she is just a girl who loves to travel, says the 32-year-old digital nomad.
But hang on, when we say Shivya has been travelling and blogging for over seven years now and without a permanent address, does that mean she never really stops travelling? "Yes. In 2013, I gave up my rented apartment, sold most of my belongings, stored some in the boot of a friend's car and began living out of just two bags. I try to travel slow, stay in a place for a month or two, work on the go while exploring it and then move on. It's liberating to own so little and have nowhere to go back to. But it also comes with its own set of challenges," quips Shivya.
Shivya travels solo and has had her share of major milestones throughout her journey. In 2015, she turned vegan and decided to cut out all animal products from her diet and lifestyle, realising that it’s better for the animals, the planet and for her own body. It's exciting how she manages to fit all her stuff in just two bags for all her adventures! "Back in 2013, when I was contemplating a life of long-term travel, I had cupboards, drawers and bags full of things I didn’t really need. So I spent a few days taking stock of everything I owned. I gave away most of my clothes, shoes, books, appliances and assorted possessions to anyone who could use them. Gradually I gave up the apartment itself, and have been living out of two bags since. Over the years, it’s felt mentally liberating to shed the weight of my material attachments. I know now that my contentment has nothing to do with trips to a shopping mall or the latest fashion trend. Although it seems harmless, fast fashion is one of the most polluting industries on the planet. So I’ve pledged that whenever I acquire something new, it will be recycled or upcycled, support a local cause and/or be environmentally sustainable," adds the traveller.
Hailing from the small town of Dehradun, Shivya has fought numerous battles to convince the ‘adults’ in her family to let her go travelling, solo or otherwise, and sometimes, she says, to have them give up on her so she could just do as she pleases. "I’ve been quite a rebel from the start, so I must admit that my methods have been quite aggressive sometimes. 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', exactly in that order. Mine have slowly (but not completely) come to accept my love for the road. I'm financially independent and have charted an unconventional career path for myself through travel writing, blogging and my book. I'm forever trying to convince them to not care about what the world out there thinks!" explains Shivya.
In 2018, Shivya published her first book called The Shooting Star, about her personal journey and how her travels have shaped her life choices. "I was overwhelmed when it became a national bestseller in just over a month of its release! It’s currently in its fourth reprint," she adds, her voice filled with glee.
Shivya had already been blogging for years, however, writing an entire book was quite a different but delightful experience. "Blogging has spoilt me with instant gratification. As I wrote and re-wrote, edited and re-edited multiple drafts of the book through the years, my mind was a storm of emotions and thoughts. Sometimes it erupted with words that filled sheets of paper (word docs actually); sometimes it bred self-doubt and no words poured out. And yet those who knew me had no inkling of these inner storms, it was my journey and only I could walk it for myself. But despite the fact that I spent years working on my book and harbour no illusions of making money out of it, I can’t quite describe the elation of holding a physical paperback copy of The Shooting Star in my hands. It still feels absolutely surreal to hear from those who’ve already read it, that this book, my book, made them contemplate a different path in life," adds the 32-year-old.
Speaking about this year, given that the COVID-19 situation has made it difficult for travellers like Shivya, she tells us that she last spent time in Chhattisgarh, learning about the way of life of remote tribal communities before the lockdown was imposed across the country. "I had wrapped up three months in South Africa in January and headed to India where I was to speak at the prestigious ET Women's Forum in end-March, which got postponed indefinitely. But I’ve promised myself that when this pandemic is behind us, I’ll rush into the world and cry tears of joy. I feel like I never appreciated the freedom and privilege to travel and the beauty of this world enough! I don't have any concrete plans as of now - considering how uncertain the future of both regional and international travel is. However, I dream of going back to Bhutan and Sri Lanka, and further ashore to Iran, Georgia, Japan and Guatemala. Is that a lot to dream about?" she signs off with the question that gives us a lot of room to think about.