Reflections
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Highs and Lows of 2018 – And Aspirations for 2019.

indian travel bloggers, shivya nath, solo travellers india

In my mind, 2018 was akin to a shinkansen (bullet train) journey in Japan. I immensely enjoyed the ride, but felt like it ended way too soon.

Even though the year wasn’t packed with as many epic travel adventures as I had originally planned, 2018 was the year of a major milestone for me – writing and publishing a bestselling book about my journey so far. Despite this achievement, I’m flooded with bittersweet emotions as I look back at 2018, given the disheartening state of affairs in India and the world.

As I introspect about the year that was, I have also outlined my aspirations for 2019, so when I feel lost or overwhelmed, I can come back here to remind myself:

HIGHS

the shooting star book, the shooting star book launch, shivya nath

Launching my book in Mumbai. Photo: Binal Gala, Vistoria Films.

Publishing my first book!

It still feels surreal to hold a copy of The Shooting Star in my hands or introduce myself as an “author”. My debut book – one that spans my journey from India to remote corners of the globe – took years to come together. I was a bundle of nerves just before it was published, but have since been overwhelmed by largely positive reviews in prestigious Indian publications like The Hindu and Live Mint – and even more so by connecting with so many of my readers on my book tour.

In just over a month of its release, The Shooting Star acquired the status of a national bestseller. It is currently in its third reprint, and I couldn’t be more grateful to the universe for conspiring to help it find its way to the right readers.

Also read: What No One Tells You About Writing and Publishing a Book in India

Falling in love with Japan and Cuba

I only travelled to a handful of new countries this year, and among them, Japan and Cuba – both so different from the rest of the world in their own way – really stole my heart. In Japan, I was introduced to a unique world of bullet trains, onsens (public baths), beautiful food (even as a vegan), plum and cherry blossoms, and secret forests. In Cuba, I felt like I had travelled back in time, discovering the real story behind the legend of Che Guevara and witnessing first hand, the impact of our plastic consumption on pristine coral reefs.

Also read: Why Visit Japan? Because Everyone Who’s a Stranger Was Once a Friend

Embracing the digital nomad life in Guatemala and Thailand

Although I work on the go wherever in the world I am, this year, I based myself in one spot in Guatemala for 2 months and in Thailand for 1.5 months – the longest I’ve stayed “settled” in one place since I gave up my home and began living nomadically over 5 years ago! These periods were extremely productive work-wise and Netflix-wise, and I hope to discover more digital nomad and slow travel spots around the world in 2019.

Also read: How I’m Financially Sustaining My Digital Nomad Lifestyle

The little things 

I was dreading the idea of turning thirty in 2018, but I’m quite loving the thirties so far! I feel more grounded mentally, strangely aware of my mortality, mature enough to pursue things I procrastinated about in my twenties and bold enough to continue fighting the battles that accompany an unconventional life. I also feel really grateful for having good physical and mental health, all the great vegan food I’ve been able to feed my body and for the people (online and offline) who continue to support my craziness.

Also read: Why You Shouldn’t Put Off Your Travel Dreams For Later

LOWS

denmark sunset, bornholm denmark, bornholm sunset

An introspective sunset in Denmark.

The void after publishing a book

I furiously wrote and edited my book for most of 2017 and part of 2018; then I furiously tried to get the word out about it, hoping that through it, I’ll be able to challenge people across the country to question their life and travel choices. When I heard that The Shooting Star had already sold 10,000 copies, I decided it was time to move on… to what, I had no idea!

At first, it felt like I’d be going back to my blogging and social media life, but my mind, which had been so fired up over the past year, needed more stimulation. It felt like a void that no books or hiking could fill. Like a purposelessness that had surfaced after a period of dormancy. I’m working towards filling it with some adventurous travels and new passion projects in the coming months.

Also read: Unexpected Ways Long Term Travel Has Changed Me

Rejected visas and destroyed travel plans

I’ve generally had pretty good luck in the past with scoring visas on my Indian passport, but in the second half of 2018, I hit a bad streak. First, my Kyrgyzstan e-visa got rejected – no reasons given. I had planned the entire journey, even worked out blogging collaborations, but everything fell through. As per their rules, I can’t reapply for an entire year! The same thing happened with the Iran e-visa a month later, leaving me rather disgruntled about why countries are opening up e-visas for Indian citizens if they’re arbitrarily going to reject applications. Sigh.

Also read: How to Score a Schengen Visa on an Indian Passport

Social media burnout

I reluctantly went on a digital detox in Cuba, where internet is scarcely available and people still talk to each other! But in those two weeks, it felt so good to rid my mind of the social media toxins that plague many of us on some level, that it’s been a challenge to embrace the online world (my job after all) again. When I grudgingly returned, I decided to cut down my social media time drastically and even experimented with a 2-3 day work week – something I hope to work towards in 2019.

Also read: Four Years of Travelling Without a Home

ASPIRATIONS FOR 2019

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My digital nomad life in Guatemala <3

Greater focus on promoting meaningful and sustainable travel

My mind is forever abuzz with story ideas I need to pen, but lately – especially after cutting down my social media browsing time – I feel like I need more conscious minds, eyes and ears to promote travel that is meaningful and sustainable. So I’ve set up two new avenues for 2019:

  • Guest posts on The Shooting Star: After much contemplation, I’m now accepting guest posts on The Shooting Star – but specifically related to meaningful and responsible travel experiences. See my guest post guidelines if you have an idea you’d like to pitch.
  • Promoting content on other websites: If you’ve created or come across an article or story that strongly supports sustainable tourism, I’d love to hear from you and share it on my social networks. Please use this form.

Also read: How Responsible Tourism Can Challenge Patriarchy in India

Fewer flights

Although I try to ensure that my travels focus on local communities and stay mindful of the environment, I’m extremely guilty of taking far too many flights. That means that despite being vegan and consciously choosing not to pro-create, my carbon footprint on the planet is still immensely high. So for 2019, I’m making the rather difficult resolution to drastically cut down  the number of flights I hop on. I’m trying to think of it as an adventure, and for starters, intend to embark upon an epic land journey in January, from Thailand to India via Myanmar!

Also read: 5 Steps to Reduce Single Use Plastic – On Our Travels and in Everyday Life

New passion projects

In the last couple of years, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working on two very unique passion projects – I Love Spiti, to create awareness about the harmful impact of plastic bottled water and offer eco-friendly alternatives in this high Himalayan region, and Voices of Munsiari, to enable rural storytellers to connect directly with the world using Instagram. In 2019, I have a couple of new projects up my sleeve, in support of my two fond loves – animals and trees. Details coming soon!

As we transition into 2019, I wish you a beautiful, crazy, adventurous and meaningful year ahead. Let this be the year we question our choices, be more compassionate towards animals and each other, and mindfully discover more of our incredible planet.

What were your highs and lows of 2018? How do you want 2019 to shape up?

Connect with me on InstagramFacebook and Twitter to follow my 2019 travel adventures!

Order a copy of my bestselling book, The Shooting Star, on Amazon or Flipkart.

22 Comments

  1. Happy New Year !!shivya .Your journey is truly a inspiration for me. I greets you for 2019 . I hope that soon in next year your next book would be publish.

  2. Pratyusha Sen says

    Happy New Year, Shivya!! One of my best highs of 2018 was discovering your blog and subsequently getting my hands on your book. It was the best read among the non-fiction books that I’ve tried in 2018. And inspired by your zeal, I too have started a blog with the first post being a book review of TSS, dedicated to you. I really love your travel tips and have started taking tiny steps towards my travel dreams as well. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures and experiences with us! ❤️

  3. As always, a beautiful piece of inspirational write up and wishing you a very happy new year Shivya. I am afraid to hear about the visa denials. It can mar travel plans for an freelance career holder, no? Also if I may suggest, while taking this epic road trip from Thailand to India, do spend some time in Myanmar. Ir is still unspoiled. People are so genuine and beautiful.

  4. Happy new year, Shivya. Always a delight to read your posts here. Two road trips were the highlight of my 2018. 🙂 Lows – many but I did learn from them and continue to do so.

  5. Happy New Year Shivya! I can’t believe you are only 30 (not that you look old). You have just done so many incredible things.

  6. Happy New Year, Shivya! Do you have any idea how many people you inspire every time you write a piece like this? I have been following your adventures since 2013 and appreciate the way you’ve worked hard consistently towards your goals. Halfway through your book and loving it. It has given me an interesting perspective on the world at large.

    Visa denial is the worst thing that can happen to a traveler. Every time I plan to visit any country, the fact of getting a visa stamp on my Indian passport makes me cringe. How I wish we could travel far and wide without any inhibitions! All the best for 2019. Keep inspiring.

  7. Ranjani says

    It’s so amazing to know someone who doesn’t just travel but puts in efforts to contribute so much to the society and environment. The sorry state of affairs of our country and otherwise doesn’t seem all that bleak with people like you around. More power to you and a very happy new year! Waiting eagerly to know about the passion projects.

  8. Happy New Year…Awaiting more adventures and responsible projects in 2019. Please don’t slow down, because you inspire a lot of young solo travel enthusiasts.

  9. Life Ouside Cubicle says

    Well written Shivya…
    Worst thing is being diagnosed with Stage 4 chondromalacia patella. Best thing is it made me realize that along with work, passions and health are extremely important. So I decided to do something about them 🙂

  10. Life Ouside Cubicle says

    And a very happy new year to you Shivya…. Wish you explore and inspire more

  11. Happy new year shivya 😊

    I have a question to ask!
    How you plan your travels to new countries and how you plan your accommodation in that country like you recently visited Japan because in the visa requirements it was mentioned that you need to provide all the information related to where you are going to stay! Then you can’t live that nomadic life na!

  12. Hey Shivya, Happy New Year. I loved this article and all the very best for your passion projects. I am a blogger myself and you are quite an inspiration. All the best for 2019.

  13. Happy New Year Shivya, such beautiful posts with amazing pictures. You know I loved reading your posts and I guess its been couple of years you inspire me with these good write up 🙂

  14. Hi Shivya, your 2018 was absolutely amazing, hope you explore more beautiful places this year. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

  15. Happy New Year Shivya ! It is always great to read your posts. I get so much inspired after reading all your blogs. Best wishes for the new year.

  16. Your post is very inspiring for the people.
    Your writing skills and your photography are just wow. Keep sharing!

  17. Great to hear about the book doing well (I read a Kindle version myself). Glad to see that there’s still enough people who like to read. Congrats and good luck ahead.

  18. Amitava says

    Hi,
    I have read most of your experiences it’s fabulous. Keep going. I wish this year you get more nomadic experience. I have just cover remote places in Nagaland and borders of Myanmar by walking in jungle and staying in Baptist Church village,along ofcourse few unforgettable public transport. There was a get pass system which allows to enter in Myanmar from Nagaland earlier but due to Myanmar political issue the system has been closed. So I cut short to 12 days. Hope you have good contacts in Myanmar and way back India via Nagaland.

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