Shooting star…. I no longer wish upon it I aspire to be her. Yeah, shooting star, world nomad, eco-warrior, environmental strategist — she does several hats —Shivya Nath!
Who is Shivya?
I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, Instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes in the transformative power of travel.” And while we all were still debating the reality of climate change she just took the steps to sustainable living. While you and I were still planning Goa’s travel she gave up everything and travelled the world defining off beaten roads with her unique sustainable and eco-friendly life choices.
A life that is living; living with the norms of the planet earth; norms that might just add years to this planet we call home. Shivya – Shivya Nath, not just your average been to Dharamshala with my fancy phone turned traveller on Instagram. Shivya says that” I’ve often heard seasoned photographers and writers complain how the internet and smartphones have bastardized their professions. On the other hand, I’ve long thought of myself as a digital being. My blog helped me carve out my niche in the world and allowed me to make a living on the go, while social media helped me find my wings.”
Shivya taught us to travel with the needs of the earth by example she did what we all just dream of and talk about on our reels for the sake of it but don’t actually have the guts to do it and the very few who actually do it are just following a very honest crusader who breathes responsible travel.
Example being…. I believe that our travel choices have an impact on the places we visit. On my part, I try to contribute to the local economy, prefer public transport, avoid plastic bottled water and other single-use plastic, say no to unethical animal attractions, consume no animal products, prefer to eat what grows in the region, ask for permission before photographing people and try to form my own opinions of the places I visit and the people I meet.
What is responsible travel?
“Simply put, it is a commitment to travel choices (getting to a destination, where to stay, what to eat, what to do) that are mindful of the environment, inclusive of local communities and soothing for our restless soul. It is often used interchangeably with “sustainable tourism”.
Example being? While there are many environmentally and socially responsible travel initiatives out there, one of my favourites is the Black Sheep Inn, set in the remote outpost of Chugchilan at over 10,000 feet in the Ecuadorean Andes. The eco-lodge literally brought tourism, waste management and environmental education to the area, and is well on its way to self-sufficiency in energy, water and food production – thereby scoring admirably on the 3 pillars of responsible tourism (social, environmental and economic).
This space is too small to talk about her travels to places carved for the natives, places that are not on your google map, places you want to put on your travel account pictures you want to click she did that long before you thought of it imagined it because Shivya’s is a doer.
In 2011, at age 23, I quit my 9-to-5 corporate job with a dream of travelling the world.
In 2013, I gave up my home, sold most of my belongings and began living nomadically.
In 2015, I turned vegan and decided to cut out all animal products from my diet and lifestyle, realizing that it’s better for the animals, the planet and my own body.
In 2018, I published a book – called The Shooting Star – about my personal journey and how my travels have shaped my life choices. I was overwhelmed when it became a national bestseller in just over a month of release! It’s currently in its fourth reprint.
In 2019, I released The Shooting Star Collection – sustainable travel-inspired clothing that raises funds to grow forests in Uttarakhand.
In 2020, I co-founded Voices of Rural India – a novel, not-for-profit platform that creates digital storytelling opportunities for rural communities affected by the tourism shutdown following Covid-19.
In 2021, I began to pivot into sustainable tourism consulting and research, aspiring to work with DMOs, governments, businesses and non-profits to meet their environmental and social impact goals.
I believe 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. Eleven years of living a life setting an example—but was it easy was it as breezy as it sounds!!
What kept her going?
“This too shall pass. This is the mantra I’ve followed many times in the past decade, especially in challenging times – in my early travel days when my bank balance would often hover around triple digits. During painfully long and uncomfortable journeys. When I landed up alone somewhere so remote and daunting that the butterflies in my tummy would just not stop flittering.” The struggles the sheer loneliness the alone voice projecting ideas which are barely being followed in herds of masses out on revenge travel during pauses in the pandemic and the in-depth knowledge and hours to be put in research and verification of authenticity. Shivya now is not just a writer traveller but a lifestyle that we refer to for better choices.
It all sounds dreamlike waking up under the clouds in Thailand sharing life stories with monks sleeping under the Milky Way right? But the struggles – being lashed about in torrential rain in the deepest Amazon without a soul or connectivity to reach out to, or being stuck with people where language is not understood or at a place where food and basic necessities are not met and still making a go still adhering to your belief in being a true citizen of the earth without boundaries of space mind and horizons.
It’s years and years of hard work and discipline it’s an unshakeable belief in the power of nature it’s a big risk to harness the shaky world of social media for a non-fashionable, non-trendy direct honest in your face facts. And hard work pays …,
In 2014, the story of how Shivya quit her job to travel was featured on BBC Travel.
In 2017, She was featured on the cover of National Geographic Traveller India magazine!
In 2018, She was awarded silver for best writing in a travel blog at TBC Asia Awards.
In 2019, her work was featured on The Washington Post, among travellers changing the way we think of the world.
In 2020, She won gold for best communicator at the WTM Responsible Tourism Awards India.
In 2021, She was featured among 15 travel trailblazers by Travel + Leisure India and South Asia.
What is the way ahead for travel and tourism after the pandemic and in an era of climate emergency?
As someone whose life choices have been deeply impacted by immersive experiences on the road, I’ve long believed in the transformational power of travel. Having witnessed it firsthand, I strongly believe that tourism, if done right, can be a powerful tool for sustainable development, environmental conservation and meaningful cultural exchange. However, it’s impossible to ignore the negative externalities of the tourism industry – especially its design for mass tourism, exploitation of common-pool resources, reliance on carbon-intensive flying, and profit-centric business models that are not inclusive of the people and the planet.
I’ve worked with travel enterprises across the Indian Himalayas to develop innovative ways to tackle the single-use plastic crisis, raise funds for a community-centric reforestation project, and build digital storytelling skills among rural communities whose voices are seldom heard.
Leading by example that’s Shivya!!
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