All posts filed under: Backpacking

Carrying an empty backpack, wherever I go.

Confession: I’m Not a Backpacker.

This is the 4th post of my Travel Secrets series. It is a common assumption that someone who travels as much and as often as I do, is a backpacker. And that as per the conventional definition of a backpacker, I carry only a backpack when I travel, I get by with the lowest possible budget, I stay in hostels, I spend a large amount of my time interacting with fellow backpackers, and I swear by a guidebook (most likely the lonely planet). While I have nothing against such a style of travelling, and in fact have a certain sense of admiration for people who travel that way, I have a confession to make: I’m not a backpacker. Shivya NathI’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star. In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored some in the boot of a friend’s car and embraced a nomadic life. Connect with me on Instagram to hear more about my …

Safranbolu photos, Turkey photos, Turkey pictures, Safranbolu

Travelling Back in Time to Safranbolu, Turkey.

Living in a 300 year old Ottoman house, an unexpected friendship with a local blacksmith and more adventures, in Safranbolu Turkey. In the wee hours of the morning, we manoeuvre my way through the cobbled streets and ancient stonewalls of Safranbolu, a small town in the western Karadeniz region of Turkey. I had been reluctant to leave Istanbul, probably the first big city I’ve fallen so in love with. But as we step back in time into a 300-year-old Ottoman house perched on a slope, I’m glad we came! Genghis, my host, greets me with a warm smile and bits of English, and shows me to my quaint room in the part of the house now converted into a pansiyon (pension aka guest house). Genghis inherited this house from his great grandfather, and it is one of the many wooden houses with large windows, well-preserved wooden interiors, and a slate roof. These houses are the town’s claim to being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hundreds of years ago, the Ottoman people, one of the greatest …

Living Like a Local in Istanbul.

Since I moved back to India exactly 11 months ago, a lot has changed in the way I travel. Shoestring budgets no longer decide where I choose to stay, unlike in my student days, and reviews of other people no longer heavily influence my choice of accommodation, unlike in my corporate days. In the last 11 months, I have learnt to swim to the depths of google and take leaps of faith with accommodation options that have struck a chord, review or no review, cheapest option or not. For the most part, I have been pleasantly surprised, sometimes even overwhelmed, with the discoveries of home stays, farm huts and forest camps that are littered in secluded places throughout India, and India Untravelled was born out of these discoveries. My choices have facilitated interaction with native families and communities, helped me travel a bit more responsibly, and let me live like the locals of a place, even if for just a few days. Shivya NathI’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, …

Finding home in Vietnam.

It’s the winter of 2010, and I’m embarking on my most adventurous journey to date, in Northwest Vietnam. Only I don’t know it yet. After failing to beat the crowds in the Mekong Delta, we have pledged not to take the ‘touristy’ circuit again. Instead of taking the train from Hanoi to Sapa (a popular hill station), we’ve set out along the Northwestern hinterlands of Vietnam, and our conviction to make it to Sapa on land via this route rests on the blog of one guy who said the journey is possible. There is no more information to be found online; no bus timings, no trains, no places to stay, not even the names of the smaller towns & villages we may pass by. This is the story of one such village. Shivya NathI’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star. In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored …

India Untravelled.

If you’ve ever fantasized about living in a remote village in the high Himalayas, experiencing the colonial charm of a hill station minus the tourists, savoring the country hospitality of India’s most hospitable culture, waking up to birds chirping on a farm, or finding the beauty of Europe’s alpine countryside in India, this post is for you. Shivya NathI’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star. In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored some in the boot of a friend’s car and embraced a nomadic life. Connect with me on Instagram to hear more about my adventures and personal journey.

Backpacker, packing light

Size Matters: Pack Light.

We Indians are notorious when it comes to packing for a vacation. I remember all the family holidays that started with dragging heavy suitcases out of the house, bargaining with porters at the railway station, asking burly men for a hand to get the luggage up the luggage shelf of the train, and keeping track of all our many belongings. It didn’t matter whether the vacation lasted a weekend or a week; my mom had to pack what she had to pack. I’m glad I didn’t inherit her packing skills… [Read more on Women’s Web] This article was originally published on Women’s Web. Photo credit: Jhong Dizon. Shivya NathI’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star. In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored some in the boot of a friend’s car and embraced a nomadic life. Connect with me on Instagram to hear more about my adventures and personal journey.

All You Need is a Backpack & a Heart For Adventure.

Lately, I’ve been surprised with an inflow of emails & tweets applauding my love for travel. (Thank you for that.) These notes almost always end with a ‘someday,’ in that, someday, you too want to see the world. To everyone with this ‘someday’ in their dictionary, I say, all you need to travel is a backpack & a heart for adventure. Shivya NathI’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star. In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored some in the boot of a friend’s car and embraced a nomadic life. Connect with me on Instagram to hear more about my adventures and personal journey.

Hitchhiking on my First Solo Trip to Spiti Valley.

My first solo trip to Spiti Valley was filled with many firsts, including hitchhiking in India for the first time! Come along? As I walk along the green fields of Pin Valley, I smile in delight at the pink, purple and yellow flowers in bloom. I haven’t seen greenery for the last 3 weeks in the mountain desert terrain of Spiti. I carefully walk across the fragile bridge across the Spiti River, to the village of Gulling. The goal is to hitchhike my way back to Kaza, Spiti’s capital, instead of waiting for a bus that may / may not show up the next morning. Also read: I Love Spiti – A Campaign to Save Spiti Valley from Single Use Plastic I have never hitch-hiked in India before. It would be a parent’s worst nightmare for their 23-year-old daughter in the northern cities of India. But my time in Spiti has convinced me that there isn’t a safer alternative to travel the region. The mountain people welcome you with big hearts, space or no space. …

Travel Tales From Pakistan: Of Fairy Meadows & The Killer Mountain.

This is The Shooting Star’s first ever guest post. Adnan Bashir, a traveler from Pakistan, who goes by the pen name Delirium, explores one of the most fascinating peaks on the other side of the Himalayas, the Nanga Parbat aka the Killer Mountain.  Shivya NathI’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star. In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored some in the boot of a friend’s car and embraced a nomadic life. Connect with me on Instagram to hear more about my adventures and personal journey.

An Empty Backpack.

The way you travel defines who you are. Perhaps that’s why they say that the best way to get to know a person is to travel together. I first heard of the Empty Backpack concept in George Clooney’s movie, Up in the Air. It professes to traveling & living light, without unnecessary emotional or  physical baggage. Here’s sharing some of my Up in the Air inspiration with you: Imagine for a second that you’re carrying a backpack. I want you to feel the straps on your shoulders. Feel ‘em? Now I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life. You start with the little things, the things on shelves and in drawers the knick-knacks, the collectibles. Feel the weight as that adds up. Then you start adding larger stuff… clothes, table-top appliances, lamps, linens…your TV…The backpack should be getting pretty heavy now. And you go bigger. Your couch, bed, your kitchen table. Stuff it all in there. Your car, get it in there. Your home, whether it’s a studio apartment …