When Shivya Nath threw off her ‘first and only’ corporate job at 23 to follow her heart and travel the world, most people considered her crazy. “I grew up in a protective Indian family in Dehradun… and spent my childhood wondering what lay beyond the mountains I could see from my roof,” she says.
Her first job with the Singapore Tourism Board got her interested in the lives of travel bloggers. “I began to understand how bloggers played an influential role in brand building, and how, even though they weren’t that different from me, they really did travel the world for a living,” she says.
Increasingly, she began to wonder what life as a travel blogger would look like. She entered a social media contest run by Air Asia on a whim and won two return tickets from Paris. She took a two-month, unpaid sabbatical from work to travel to the Himalayas and across Western Europe. “In those two months, I saw, experienced and lived more than I ever had before,” she says.
At the end of the two months, as she contemplated returning to her life in a cubicle, Shivya felt a strange disconnect. Within the week, she had quit her job to travel the world on her own terms.
Making it big as a travel bloggerToday, Shivya is a celebrity of sorts and one of India’s most well-known and awarded travel bloggers. Her stories have been published in leading travel publications like National Geographic, BBC, The Huffington Post, Conde Nast Traveller, Times of India and The Hindu.
Her book, ‘The Shooting Star: A Girl, Her Backpack and the World,’ became a national bestseller in just a month of its release! Her blog, The Shooting Star, is a source of inspiration to many other travel bloggers. More recently, Shivya began her own start-up ‘India Untravelled’, connectings travellers with environmentally and socially sustainable travel initiatives.
To fund her travels, Shivya works gigs as a social media consultant and copywriter. She helps travel companies build their social media presence and guides them through tested social media strategies.
Her advice to aspiring travel bloggers is to start slow and build credibility.
“I’ve done my fair share of free work in the early days,” she reveals.
Shivya also shares that travel bloggers need to ‘travel light’, not just while actually travelling, but metaphorically as well. “Don’t let yourself be defined by the molds of society; that you need to finish your MBA or be married or have a house by a certain age,” she says. “Define your own rules. If you are financially independent, no one can or should call your shots.”
Could this be for you?
“Many people like the idea of travel, but unless you’ve been on the road long enough (at least a month at a stretch), it’s hard to say if it’s really for you. Go experiment, and see if a life of travel and blogging is for you,” says Shivya.
If you love travelling, freelancing makes it much more likely to achieve your goal than a corporate job. Freelancing makes it possible to work while travelling, or to work for part of the year, save money and travel the other half. Besides, being your own boss, you won’t have to negotiate for leave with your supervisor!
As Shivya would quip: “Una Vida’ – you have one life, how do you plan to live it?”
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