In 2011, Shivya Nath planned a two-month sabbatical from work to quench her wanderlust by backpacking around Europe and visiting the Indian Himalayas. Unexpectedly, those two months turned into the beginning of a new career. This year, her travel blog, The Shooting Star, took home the honors of Best Indian Travel Blog.
Shivya has positioned herself at the forefront of a new generation of tech- and social media-savvy Indian bloggers. She has also written for the BBC, National Geographic Traveller, and The Huffington Post to name a few. She made Femina’s “35 Under 35” Power List of Indian women and co-founded India Untravelled, dedicated to “introducing travel enthusiasts to responsible travel experiences in rural India.”
We caught up via Skype with Shivya – who has just returned to India from Germany and the Seychelles – to discuss the top 6 essential things (not in order of importance) that she relies on while on the road. Check out her answers below:Did we mention that Shivya is 25?
“It is important to stay healthy while traveling and drinking safe water is a huge part of that,” she explains. “But, after a few trips, I realized that I was wasting a lot of plastic bottles by always buying mineral water. A SteriPEN is small and uses UV light to sterilize water. It frequently ends up tasting better than bottled water and there’s no waste.”
2. Smart Phone
“I carry a laptop with me too, but it is great to have a smart phone so I can Tweet and use Skype almost anywhere. It is also a lot easier to re-charge and carry around during the day than my laptop. If I had to choose between the laptop and the phone, I’d take the latter.”
3. Skype Unlimited World subscription
“No matter where I am in the world, Skype is my connection to home. I’ve written about the challenges of having travel-wary Indian parents and I’m able to call home with Skype every other day or so. My parents aren’t very tech-savvy so I can also use a Skype Unlimited World subscription which lets me call landlines and mobile phones at low rates. I frequently use Skype to call hotels and other businesses inside the country I’m visiting and I also do trip-planning and travel consultation over Skype.”
4. Solar-Panel Backpack
“One of the realities of using technology on the road is that you have to recharge your devices all the time. I have a backpack with solar panels from Voltaic Systems and it has a USB connection I can use to charge everything from my smart phone to my SteriPEN. Plus, very few people have ever seen a backpack with a solar panel on it, so it’s a great conversation starter.”
5. Tibetan Prayer Flags
“This is the lowest-tech of my travel essentials. I have a lot of respect for the Tibetan people and while I am not a Buddhist, I also really appreciate its philosophy. I got some Tibetan flags on that first solo trip I took the Himalayas and they’ve been good luck on the road for me ever since. I’m just happy I didn’t pick something heavy or big as a good luck charm.”