When I packed up my life into a backpack, I had no idea digital nomading will become my new normal.
I’m penning this post on a train journey through the Italian countryside, distracted by mountain-fringed lakes, dreamy villages and vineyards dotting the horizon. This is the first time in my digital nomading journey that I’ve hopped continents – from Germany to South Africa and back to Italy – without going to India. And to be completely honest, I’ve felt as much at home in the Mamelodi township in South Africa as in the remote villages of Spreewald, Germany.
In 2013, when I packed my home into a backpack and decided to hit the road indefinitely, I wondered how long it would take me to crave a “normal” life again. Turns out, a different country every few months, a different bed every few weeks and a different way of life every now and then, is my definition of normal now. I’m waking up in the traditional home of a Romanian family one day and celebrating Mopin with the tribal folk of Arunachal Pradesh on another. I’m having Sunday lunch with an Italian family in their 100-year-old Umbrian home one day and playing basketball with the Mayan folk of Guatemala on another. I can’t fathom living any other way.
Also read: How I’m Financially Sustaining My Digital Nomad Lifestyle
A steady income, finally?
The last six months are the closest I’ve come to making a steady income since I quit my corporate job in Singapore, almost four years ago. From blogging partnerships with travel brands I love, to paid campaigns with tourism boards, to steady freelance work that pays my student loan, I finally feel like the restless nights of not knowing where my next bit of money will come from are behind me – atleast for now. I’ve realised that building a blog driven purely by the love of travel pays, and in ways I never could have anticipated. And for that, and for you my loyal readers, I’m eternally grateful.
Also read: Confessions of an Indian Digital Nomad
Work-life balance, which seemed impossible while digital nomading, finally.
Selling off India Untravelled – a company my friend and I literally built from scratch – was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. But it’s also the best thing I’ve done for my own sanity. Running a business is more than a 24×7 job, as is running a travel blog, and I was fooling myself into thinking I could give both my all, while also living nomadically.
Now that I have only one hat to wear, my travels are no longer dictated by connectivity and long work hours. And finally upgrading to the iPhone 6 has changed my life – I can go days without opening my laptop or touching my camera!
Also read: How I Fit All My Possessions in Two Bags as I Travel the World
If there’s one thing that’s severely degraded in this nomadic way of life, it’s my offline social skills. Let’s just say I haven’t had a social life in years (and that’s fine), but now I’m finding it increasingly hard to identify with people I meet in real life. I find myself incapable of making insignificant small talk, drinking myself silly, or laughing at petty jokes – and I know those are social skills that can cost me dearly.
Solitude has gone from being my introspective place to my happy place, and I can find it in the crevices of my mind even when I’m surrounded with people. This feeling drives me crazy sometimes, but I keep telling myself that my “normal” does not need to be everyone else’s normal, right?
My first book, The Shooting Star, is a reflection of my digital nomad journey after 5 years on the road!
What’s next on this digital nomading journey?
21 months on, I’m ready to spread my wings and build new nests in countries that have forever intrigued me – yet ones that will have me journey far from my comfort zone. I plan to spend the summer exploring Georgia (the country) and the Caucasus region, losing myself on the Sufi trail, and experiencing a world different from any I may have known before. Until today morning, this was only a vague plan, but I’ve just booked my flight to Tbilisi and it feels bloody exhilarating!
Also read: Inspiring Places to Live, Work and Explore as a Digital Nomad
Is digital nomading on your mind? Do you find your definition of “normal” evolving?
Welcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes in the transformative power of travel.
Your definition of “normal” matches with my definition of normal, Shivya
And yay for Georgia 😀
I’m going to continue tripping over your updates
Glad to always have your virtual company Elita. I’m not sure I’m still ready for your kind of normal – Bihar and Chattisgarh, but I’m sure inspired hearing of your adventures!
You’re living the dream,girl! Keep travelling and keep inspiring! And yes, “my normal does not need to be everyone else’s normal” !:) Lots of good wishes,
Thanks Urmi, I’m glad so many of us can accept different definitions of ‘normal’ 🙂
How awesome that you are going to Georgia! It’s one of dream destinations and I will be looking forward to your updates. 🙂
And you know, over the past few weeks, even I was thinking just the same. It’s been barely 5 months since I gave up the house and everything but this already feel so freaking normal, not to have a base. It’s almost as if we were born to wander!
And I can totally relate to not being able to connect or make small talk with most others now. This happened to me when I started trekking long back, couldn’t talk much to anyone who didn’t trek or travel. Now it’s become worse. Turns out I can’t talk normal stuff with friends with normal lifestyle and that’s a big problem.
I have no idea what Georgia holds in store for me, but I can’t wait to find out 😉 It’s so great to see you going strong 5 months on; hope we get to catch up in some exciting part of the world soon!
God, Shivya!! What a bloody grit you have. It is pretty easy for someone with a strong financial backup to be doing what you are doing.But you have totally nailed it.Admire your passion, your incredible work,soulful writing and mindblowing pictures. All of you(&it) put together are a bundled package of awesomeness!!
Bloody grit? Not really; just little leaps of faith at a time! And thanks so much for your words, sure made my day 🙂
Simply amazed… it took me so many months of guts n courage to travel Europe last year for 20 days.
Hatsoff to you & yes, i’ve enjoyed reading your experiences as you’ve described them last ~2 years.
The first step is the hardest! So proud of you for taking it and going to Europe. Hope it was a fun trip? What’s next?
Hi Shivya – I’m so looking forward to read your blog and to see your photos (FB/Insta) about Sufi trails. Good luck and enjoy!
Thanks Kat, I hope there are some incredible adventures in store!
In awe of you…:-)
Haha, don’t be!
Congratulations for destination next.. Maturity brings inclination towards Solitude. Your mind is much bent on seeking so it saves space by blocking social interactions like others. Your normal need not to be at par with others, it may be very special and it will be so in times to come.
I WILL WAIT EAGERLY FOR YOUR POSTS.
Thanks Pramod; that does put some things into perspective.
You know what I did.. I read this post n re-read it n again read it. Gal.. You’re awesome and I loved the way you expressed your thoughts. You have a wonderful style of writing ! Your definition of normal need not be others way of normalcy.. Keep it going!!
Thanks so much Sumathi! Glad you like my writing style.
Three cheers to you! And look forward to your updates from Georgia!
Im just a month away from my graduation. And had no clue about my future. But I think i just saw my future in this post of yours. Your words resonates with my dreams. Congratulations on achieving contentment in life. Not everybody gets to feel this happy! Stay blessed. And keep traveling:)
Thanks Khushmit, and the sooner you go after your dreams, the faster you can achieve them. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Keep going girl !!! You are an inspiration to a lot of us who are living the “normal” life. There are only few who have the courage to even take the calculated risks. Take care & have a safe trip 🙂
It’s about the little leaps Sandhya, I think all of us have atleast that much courage in us. We just have to summon it and go!
been reading your blog regularly and quite fascinated by it.its simply superb
Thanks so much, Vandana!
Go girl go …:)
Always on my way 😉
It’s great to hear from someone who is a little further along. My partner and I gave up our jobs in England in 2013 for a nomadic life on the road.
We have travelled in USA and Canada, and have just embarked on our travels around India. For us it is an experiment, to see if we can sustain our copywriting business on the road, and keep up our blog, lightweight.life, along the way.
You are proof to us it is possible, as we forge our nomadic path. Thanks for sharing your world with us!
That’s awesome Janine, great to connect with you guys. I guess the first couple of years are the hardest, finding your footing and wondering whether you took the right fork in the road. But either way, I’m sure it’s been a pretty incredible journey so far. What part of India are you in? Let me know if you need any recommendations 🙂
You are simply awesome!
Haha, thanks Abhishek! Awesome is relative too, aye?
Awesome going Shivya!!! 21 months! Over past 9 months… I always keep reading your blog to stay motivated! Wish to be a traveler soon. And your blog keep my dreams alive 🙂
All the best on your next trips!!! 🙂
Thanks Adithya, happy to know my blog’s kept you coming back for 9 months 🙂 Hope you’ll hit the road soon too!
Wow!!! I love the honesty which reflects in each sentence you write. Its amazing that you have found your definition of “normal” and can rest with that. For me, I don’t know what “normal” is, let alone evolving with it.
Thanks Priya, I’m glad the honesty came through. I think my “normal” is evolving everyday, and probably yours is too, even without you knowing it 😉
I can only say that you are living the life in actual terms.
Your blog is as fresh as the morning dew fallen on the tender blades of grass leaves. 🙂
Thanks Suman, that’s the most refreshing compliment my blog’s ever received 🙂
Small talk, social skills, and drinking oneself silly are all over-rated. It seems like travel is your meditation [ as it is mine], and long periods of meditation make all external sources of high pretty much redundant.
Love your blog. And quite admire your life.
Thanks Debbie, happy to know I’m not the only one thinking / feeling this way. Glad you like my blog 🙂
Normal is what normal makes of it 😉 Besides, as human beings aren’t we constantly supposed to evolve and move towards the better? Georgia looks better for most of us just as normal does 🙂 At the risk of sounding a Gen Y Yuppy, I think our social skills show up on email and Twitter as much as they do offline. Petty talk and superficial communication can be avoided anywhere for a normal, healthy living noh? Bon voyage, Shivya.
Thanks you Gen Y Yuppy 😉 Yeah, I suppose we all evolve on different ways, but the “better” is relative and individual too, and that’s fine. Hope I’m able to score visas to Georgia et al to continue being normal!
They dream of it and you did it !
Hi Shivya, Good Afternoon….
I like to ask you that how are you managing your finances as one have to spend lot of money if you are travelling abroad. Viz. is it finance by your parents, through Internal accruals, what is the mode please reply….
I work and earn on the go. These posts will shed more light:
Lovely journey, Shivya, good luck for your future adventures! 🙂
Thanks Angela! Hope our paths cross somewhere soon.
Amazing journey Shivya ! Great to see you following your dreams like this. Not everyone can do it, so definitely ‘normal’ is going to be different 🙂
Everyone can try, and I think that’s what counts 🙂
Bravo Shiva, this is indeed a great feeling to live the life you like the most rest is being like getting to rat race and pulling legs.
And the best part is, each one of us can do it if we choose to.
Awesome..Shivya…..I envy your journey..can you tell me the secret??
Haha, here are the answers to all my ‘secrets’ – http://the-shooting-star.com/my-travel-secrets/
Haven’t visited in a while and am so glad I got to be reminded how amazing your writing is Shivya! Can’t wait to be living the same way 🙂
Thanks for stopping by again Mariana; glad you like my writing. Hope to run into you sometime on the road!
I love your normal!
You write as beautifully as you live your life, Shivya.
And well, life is always exciting when your normal keeps evolving. As someone so aptly put, “Don’t live the same year 70 times and call it a life.”
You are living your dream! How many can say that?
Hi Shivya, Good Morning…..Might be you are in Georgia and heard about flood there so are you ok may God bless you…
CA. Gaurav Agrawal, C – 228, Sector – 48, NOIDA, ZIP – 201303, U.P., Mobile No. – 09718018063
Hii Shivya congrats for your future vision . I want to know that do you need to go for any interview for canada multiple entry visa . And also let me know the tips to get visa of canada . I am very thankful to you if you provide me all details about all these things. I have applied for USA B1/B2 visa but i get rejected without any reason they just told me to apply from delhi nd better lluck next time . So plz guide me my email adress is :firstname.lastname@example.org .
Hi….loved your work….inspiring and encouraging……and yes the definition of normal is very different….ha ha I love that!!!!!.
Hey! Loved reading your blog posts. I’ve been toying with the idea of traveling more and making a life out of it and these posts have been great reads for me to put things in perspective. As a newbie travel enthusiast, I wanted to know how you set about finding the people you end up staying with or the quaint little places you travel to. How best does one find these instead of the typical ‘touristy’ spots and places to stay?
Hey shivya , you just spoke my mind especially the social life part , I was a nomad for 4 months from nov 2014 to feb 2015 , travelling around south India on my motorbike , living with village people and spending time with their families , nature , working in farms and tea plantations , understanding their everyday life . After I got back home my ‘normal’ way of life totally changed and I could never socialize myself with people who are not into travel or my way of living anymore . Coming across your blog , has given me even more confidence and inspiration to go ahead and live a permanently nomadic life for years to come and travel around the world on two wheels , which I hope to start next year 🙂
P.S I have been working on my idea promoting less explored destinations of India with a traveller I met , “India untravelled” is still operational ? If so , possible to connect me to the people who are working on it right now ? My mail is : email@example.com .
I just and wish i could be as normal as you are 🙂
I am now 75 years old, highly qualified and experienced Plastics Technologist.You have made me jealous.Even after having earned the wealth, name and fame, over the last 50 years,I feel as if I haven’t done what I really wanted to do.It is what you have achieved and are stilling doing it.I am healthy and hearty man with a pleasing personality and carried hobbies and interests.I am looking forward for a companion who could travel with me ,at my cost, on a budget that is not luxurious but clean and hygienic.I have tried in the past to travel with such a person from Europe but found them a bit complexed and with mental block about wealthy people.I want to start my solo venture this summer.In case some one like you with knowledge of some common languages and interest in seeing this world,I am ready to cooperate.