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Why a Top Travel Blogger Won’t Leave Home Without These 5 Things

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.Free Skype Calls to Mobiles and Landlines

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.”

Shivya in Ibiza

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?

1. SteriPEN
“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.”

Free Skype Calls to Mobiles and Landlines

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.”

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