My digital nomad life, after one year on the road without a home to go back to.
What’s life without a little adventure? I asked myself a little over a year ago. I had been living a semi-nomadic life since I quit my corporate job in 2011, with a base in Delhi and an insatiable wanderlust. On the twenty-fifth day of August 2013, as I sat on the roof of my shabby Delhi apartment, staring at the dark starless sky, my heart filled with an unknown melancholy and my spirit craved more adventure. And just like that, I let go off my apartment, sold most of my belongings, stored some for a winter’s day (thank heavens!), and set out with my backpack.
For one year, I have moved, uninhibitedly, as much within as with my feet, like a bird without a nest, flapping my wings in the vast skies, swooping down on parts of the world that beckoned me. A soul without a compass on some days, a spirit that couldn’t be contained on others. Much has been learnt, more has been loved – and the one thing that has remained constant is my desire to keep moving.
When people ask me about studying beyond a bachelor’s degree, I want to tell them that the road is my teacher. And what it teaches best is acceptance, life’s most underrated lesson. Like anyone who wants to see the world, I’ve dreamt of seeing all of it. But lingering on a little longer in places like South Australia, Northern Thailand, Auroville, Kumaon and the interiors of Goa has allowed me to observe the little whimsies of life beyond just a shallow peek. I have come to accept that I can’t experience everything in this lifetime, but what I can, I will experience deeply.
Check out my bestselling book, The Shooting Star, on my journey from the cubicle to a nomadic life.
I have never been a fan of obligatory or legalized relationships. And this year on the road has taught me that there is no better remedy for a tired, worn-out, misunderstood soul than swapping your deepest, darkest secrets with someone who was a mere stranger days ago. Truth is, sometimes it’s easier to bare your heart to a stranger.
Also read: What it’s Like to Travel Solo When You’re in a Relationship
The one that never gets old – how do I afford this life? I won’t give you a vague answer this time. I currently handle two regular blogging and social media projects for Indian and Singaporean companies, write for atleast two Indian or international publications in a month, run India Untravelled which is gradually sprouting its own wings, and work with travel companies on ad-hoc campaigns and contests. I love most of the work I do, and what I don’t pays for exorbitant flights and my student loan. And knowing the wealth of experiences money has bought me in this year of being nomadic, I rarely think twice about spending what I earn.
Also read: Confessions of an Indian Digital Nomad
On work-life balance
This has been my biggest struggle on the road. Unwilling to delegate, let go or do a half-hearted job, I have spent long, grueling hours staring at my laptop screen while being location independent. I’ve promised myself that this is going to change. Slowly but surely, I’m learning to delegate, working with diligent and committed freelancers, prioritizing work that pays well, and dreaming of a four hour work week!
Also read: Work from Home Tips From Someone Who’s Been Doing it for Nearly a Decade
Despite the wild, unforeseen, unforgettable adventures a year of being nomadic has placed on my lap, I have merely continued to drift along in the bigger picture, not tipping any closer on the happiness scale. Truth be told, I’ve come closer to knowing that I never will, for it’s a mere illusion, much like the higher powers we try to believe in, because life feels more meaningful with something to aspire towards. Mono no aware; a Japanese saying describes it as a longer, deeper, gentle sadness about the transience of things being the reality of life. Life isn’t always about doing something, finding something, being something. Sometimes you just have to drift along and see where it takes you.
Also read: How Travelling Changed My Perspective on Getting Married and Having Kids
The Next Chapter of my digital nomad life…
One year on, on a sunny summer afternoon, I find myself sitting above the Hudson River in New York as I write this. Over an unplanned 5-6 months, I am here to explore parts of North, Central and South America, continuing to trade the stability of a regular paycheck and the comfort zone of a familiar bed with watching the sun set halfway across the globe. Because, what’s life without a little adventure, right?
Also read: 21 Months On, Digital Nomading Feels Normal
More posts in this digital nomad life series:
Four Years of Traveling Without a Home
How I’m Financially Sustaining my Digital Nomad Lifestyle
How I Fit All My Life Possessions in Two Bags as I Travel the World
Do you dream of a digital nomad life? What would you love / hate about travelling without a home?
Welcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, “sustainability influencer,” social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes that travel – if done right – has the power to change us and the world we live in.
Which parts of South America are you particularly interested in? I have a friend in Argentina who can recommend good itineraries based on what you’re looking for!
I’d like to go everywhere, but have narrowed it down to the countries that offer visa on arrival with a US visa. So it’ll mostly be Central America, and probably only Ecuador in South America.
I traveled for one week, without staying in touch with parents or home. Traveling proved that home is where the heart is and I didnt have to miss my home, as soon as I got into the train.
Such a great article and I’ve often thought about living in the road myself.
Love this one, Shivya! There is so much to life than what meets the eye. And I’m so inspired to know women like you who take chances 🙂
Likewise Amrita. I love your seasonal jobs model, and considering trying it out myself at some point. Glad you enjoyed reading this one!
Totally love the honesty with which you write your feelings.. I mean- lots of people can be carried away that leaving your job for travel and being on the road constantly leads to supreme happiness which may not be true. Of course there are many highs of having wanderlust – more power to you !!
Thanks Mansee – one of those posts that I didn’t want to edit at all after the first draft 🙂 Thanks for always reading along and coming virtually on my journeys!
I’ve been hooked to your blog ever since I started reading it, not very long ago.
I long for my own adventures but I long to read yours too.
All my love to you for your life on the Road!
Thank you! And I hope you’ll stick around to read more and share your own adventures too 🙂
Beauty..Yeah you are right, life is just meaningless without adventures. Keep going adventurously…
Thanks Sunil, you and me both!
This is truly a travel inspiration! One of the most inspiring posts that I read recently. Makes me go out of my comfort zone that I am procrastinating ! Thank you for sharing and inspiring .
I’m so glad to hear that 🙂 Life is all about pushing your comfort zone, a little at a time, isn’t it?
I believe so 🙂
It’s so comforting to know people like you, Shivya! More power and adventure and love to you. 🙂
Thanks Sarita! I hope there are lots more adventures coming your way this year too 🙂
this is so beautiful:) its that one call that you need to answer. The call of the heart! 🙂 and you did just that!
Stay blessed! 🙂
I envy your lifestyle, to travel the way you do would be amazing!
It has its highs and lows, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Start small, and I’m sure you can find your adventures on the road too 🙂
great post.. I too love traveling, now believe it mixes with my veins,I like to read your post. 🙂
Mixing with your veins – wow, what a deep way to put it!
What an inspiring post! Loved to learn more about you! You are right… and we all need a little adventure 😀
Thanks, I’m glad to hear that! Where’s the little adventure taking you in October?
Im in Turkey right now…diving 😀 and at the end of October I will be in Egypt 😀
A very nice read :). Happiness is may be a balance between aspiration and satisfaction :). Getting philosophical after reading the post 😀
Thanks Makrand, felt all philosophical writing it too. That balance is hard to come by!
Its an amazing writeup…quite…inspiring!!
This is one of the most impressive posts by you! Keep the adventure going.
Thanks Renuka 🙂
Amazing, Shivya! More power to you 🙂
I’ve always thought travel and adventure are the best education… how are you liking NYC – a bit different from those Himalayan forests I think!
Haha, you bet. I’m indulging in a lot of good food, and heading to Guatemala soon 🙂
I spent last year travelling in Latin America & am currently looking for work in Bogota, Colombia. So let me know if you have questions as you head further south!
That’s awesome, Ann! I’m starting with Guatemala and will spend some time exploring Central America. I’m hoping to be in Ecuador in December. Good luck with your work hunt, I hear Colombia is stunning!
I spent 3 months in Guate last year & highly recommend Santa Cruz on Lake Atitlan. Specifically Arco de Noe guesthouse, though La Iguana Perdida across the docks may have more travellers. Stunning volcano views from this village!
The beauty of “Mono no aware” is perhaps best perceived by a traveller, who sits transiently in the kaleidoscope of life, observing the hurriedness with which we, daily beings, rush through our routines, while staying deliciously away from all that binds us, stops us. May nothing bind you! Keep inspiring.
Beautifully put, Shaonli! May nothing bind either of us.
Amazing post!! For me its movies, music and travel from which you learn the most
I agree; it’s got to be a mix of first hand and second hand learning!
I love that image of Autumn in NYC. Great going…
The leaves have just started to turn red 🙂
Very nice post! Thank you for being so honest, I’m sure it will comfort many people.
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good one…. truth is your independence makes me jealous!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 love it!!!
Don’t be jealous, find your own freedom 🙂
I regularly read latest updates.it gives lot’s of inspiration to my life.I really like your adventurous life
Thanks Tejendra, glad to hear that.
I have been travelling without a base for over a year now too. It’s very encouraging to see other people in the same boat, and I really respect that you have been able to make it financially viable too. I was in New York while you were in Goa and now I am in Goa while you are in New York. Life is funny, would love to connect sometime!
Good to meet you here Sheena! I’m sure our paths will cross soon enough 🙂 I love the interiors of Goa. Will you be there for a while?
kudos to u girl !! it takes a lot to do wot u r doing . u simply deserve to enjoy ol d marvels of this world. good luck 🙂
Thanks Richa! I think not living your dream is as hard as living your dream, if not harder.
Great post Shivya. You are an inspiration for many like me.
Always look forward to see your posts…
My pleasure Shivya. Hey would it b possible for u to give me feedback on my blog. Would love to be mentored by u.
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Beauty is the word.
But i would also love to read/listen to what were your aesthetic experiences…
Aesthetic experiences? Not sure what you mean.
Great post, so glad to hear you are living your dreams and learning to delegate a little along the way 😉
Can’t decide which is more important 😉
Great post Shivya ! Keep flying and keep writing. Good luck !
I your blog, your words are mesmerizing and the blog is so honest and heartfelt. Love it!! But what really prompted me to respond to this post was that you will be going to Central America soon! I’ve been to El Salvador only….and my understanding is that all four CA countries offer similar topography, climate and culture. That being said, I’m sure there are lots of little differences just waiting to be discovered and I’m sure your blog will keep me informed on what I missed out 🙂 In terms of recommendations, El Sal has some fantastic hikes up to volcanoes. I recommend going up Santa Ana or Izalco. But definitely stay safe here as there have been several reports of mugging at the top of the volcano. You’ll probably not be allowed to go up without a police escort anyway as part of a big group.
The Ruta del las Flores area is a group of 5 towns/villages close to each other that offer a good resting spot, a chance to mingle with locals, see some beautiful wall murals, swim under waterfalls, and ofcourse, buy delicious coffee beans. Part of the experience seems touristified….but again, I leave it up to you to unearth the untravelled spots.
Food is yum…particularly the horchata and the mixed fruit juice that you get in little plastic bags at grocery stores. Being a vegetarian should also not be too challenging here – they have veggie versions of the pupusa (basically a corn parantha) in several locations.
Much love and all the best!!!
Can’t wait to leave now 🙂 I’m off to Guatemala this week, and will hopefully make it to El Salvador at some point. Thanks for all your recommendations. Shall be writing / Facebooking / tweeting all about my adventures!
You’re a regular inspiration, Shivya! Wish you some more amazing and inspiring travels through the Americas. If you visit Mexico, don’t forget to spend a day swimming in underground cenotes, breathing in some of that ancient Inca magic. 🙂
Thanks Amiya, and you too!
“Life feels more meaningful with something to aspire towards. Mono no aware; a Japanese saying describes it as a longer, deeper, gentle sadness about the transience of things being the reality of life. Life isn’t always about doing something, finding something, being something. Sometimes you just have to drift along and see where it takes you.
Well said Shivya..lovely post.
Are you currently in New York, or have you already left?
I’m here for another couple of days; off to Guatemala after!
If you have a moment, I’d love to meet you. Welcome to my home sweet home.
woww.. you are living my dream.. literally..
Beautiful post! No sense of hypocrisy, very honest. I have a question though. On your section regarding happiness, you say we need a goal to be joyful and then you bring something about transcience and conclude with that it’s okay to get lost. So what’s your stance ? A life with a goal ? Or a life of adventure ?
Thanks for saying longer, deeper, gentle sadness with respect to life and its transience. I feel like I am always there, in that place.
Hi Shivya, I hope you take my comment positively. I find it extremely tacky that you ask ‘generous people’ to contribute to your travel fund. Asking people to buy via affiliate links is perfectly fine but directly asking to transfer to your account to fulfill your travel dreams? Isn’t that quite sad? Its almost akin to begging! You left your job on your own will to travel the world at your own will and you obviously knew that this costs money. Asking people who chose to stay back at their jobs to fund your travel is extremely distasteful. Could you tell me one good reason why would I like to spend my hard earned money on sponsoring your travel fund? One good idea I have is maybe you could change it to -” hey here is a link to donate 5$ (or 10$) and I will send you a travel postcard from wherever I am in the world” That way, your loyal readers feel that they are getting a special souvenir from you and it would be a way to connect to your readers but not directly ask for charity. Hope you publish my comment and take it positively. I have nothing but my best wishes for you
Waw! So beautiful sweet kind of Message u gav to all hu hav Travelling inspiration!
Loved ur small sweet adventure:)
Keep going…Hav a beautiful life ahead..
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Your pictures are incredible and your journey inspiring. If you don’t mind me asking, isn’t traveling extremely expensive, did you have money saved up? I am just curious as a fellow traveler if there are ways to get around the hefty price of travel:)
You are a very inspiring person and talented writer, I love your blog! Keep doing what you love and good travels!
This is beautiful!! A powerful move on your part! Great work!
Peace and positive vibrations,
Hey! I just gave my 10th boards and currently am waiting for my results. Reading your blog is the best thing that I’m doing these days. What you are doing right now is something that I would love to do. Travelling, reading and writing are my major interests and it would be really helpful if you could advise me and help me make my dreams turn into realities. And I really really appreciate you for doing what you love.
I stumbled upon your blog quite by accident. It makes for a lovely read.
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I deeply admire your courage to quit the conventional corporate job and follow your dream, a lot of people think about it but don’t usually go for it, but when you stumble across stories like yours it does help in a big way as an inspiration. Travelling, Reading, Writing, and essentially leading a nomad’s life is what I also wish to do for a living, however unlike you I haven’t been able to do justice to my dream so far. Going through your blog did awaken my spirit, made me more determined and confident, and hopefully I will also be on the same path sooner, than later!
Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂
Inspiring! Have never travel for 1 year yet. But planing for a long trip soon 🙂
Your travel stories brings tons of inspiration…and yes, hope that one day, I get to see more of the world and it’s many fascinating adventures.
That is a wonderful story, both beautiful and though-provoking. And the photographs are gorgeous. Waiting to hear about the year since.
I’ve been a silent follower of your adventures and travels for a year or so. While my life isn’t nearly as awesome as yours, you still inspired me to start blogging.
Hi Your Blog Was Awesome
I’m Here So Can You Please Follow Me
Your Blog Was Heart Touching
Oh my.. this is pretty interesting! And even more gutsy!
Kudos to you girl.. good luck.
loved the post. “Mono no aware” is also the best way i can describe the most precious thing that my travelling/trekking has taught me.
Nevertheless, have a great american odyssey..would love to read wat you discover.
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I love your blogs and your soulful writing.
After reading your blogs, I feel as though I am present in those journeys and experiencing it first-hand.
Hats off to you.
Keep up the great work !
Awesome pictures 🙂
lovely blog…. definitely gonna follow this regiously… wish i had the guts to travel like u …
That’s something I want to try too, travelling without a home for a long time, for it is in our travels that we’d be able to find our true selves and see the real meaning of our lives. I’m thinking of starting my life journey in Nepal or Japan, two of my favorite places to go to.
You are Inspiration personified! This is by far the best blog I have ever come across!
I love your story! is the first thing I’d want to tell you. I myself am a little traveler, just a beginner but someone who wants to touch the whole world, even the moon if possible! . you inspire me so much that I feel like travelling even more and also I would like to tell you that I am thinking of starting my own little travel blog as I like writing I would to love know your opinion on this.Just keep up the good work.
it’s great. The way you express life is something else..Something everyone just wishes to be true..Passion is the important thing that separates you from most of them. Keep going and Don’t forget to keep updated.
You are such an Inspiration!!!
You are truly an inspiration and I am really luck to find you and your posts. Hopefully one day, I will also stand for my dreams and my passion.
i want to pursue travelling as my career..m in 12 now…what should i do..cz most of the bloggers have chosen this career after quitting their jobs..can’t i start with it after my 12 class only?
Reblogged this on Steps And Streets.
Whenever I read about solo travels and look at the beautiful pictures, I always wonder who takes the photographs. I am always curious – Do you ask a stranger to take a lovely quick shot or do you have a travel companion who also happens to be good at photography. Or is it timed self shoots?
How do your find new projects? I have ones from my biz contacts from before I left, but I don’t know how to cultivate new ones.
hi……..shivya thanks for sharing this post. i really enjoyed your content. and i will appreciate for your photography.
This is the first post I have read of yours and I can’t tell you how you have inspired me. ‘Stability’ is one thing everyone strives for, and giving it up and taking on a nomadic life must have been an immensely difficult task. But you did it and how well. You make it sound so easy and necessary all at the same time. I am not a travel person but would definitely read your work to find out your experiences travelling. Much to learn.
That’s an extremely inspiring post ! Good Job !!
Amazing post, take away definitely is the part where one has to still work and earn the bucks, lucky are those who love their work
Beautifully written and you inspire me by your words.
leaving job for traveling does really require strong nerves!
This is so inspiring! Thank you so much!
So glad I found your blog, it gave me the much needed push to do what I was dreaming of doing since last 2-3 years and i.e. to adopt a lifestyle like yours.
I know I gotta work really hard to get to that level. Wish me luck!
reading this article gave me goose bumps,it was a good read and really relateable on some counts thank you for sharing your experience with us
I admire your bravery and courage, Shivya! Your experiences are so motivational!
your experiences are really damn inspiring…
How do you do it? Muster enough courage to actually start? Anything- travelling for you, starting their own companies for some. How do you get that first burst of ‘heck! Let’s do this!’??
Thank You Shivya, For your wonderful Blog you inspire me me to think about traveling. Thanks one again
Travelling is everyone’s first dream…Inspirational blog.
Thank you shivya..
i came across your blog and to be true i really loved what you wrote. After reading your travel your travel stories i have a question to ask, the question is being a broke how do you get visa’s without prior bookings and a minimum of bank balance.
visit the mystic north-east india
I love so much Travel..
Very inspiring……Bold move of letting of the corporate world and putting yourself up with nature. Guess they have made you their best friend as you stand getting near to them.
I am new to your blog and i saw this post on the front page
Truly an experience of ups and downs, high’s and low’s.
Society generally isn’t accepting very much , But as it is sung
“Ham sabki parwaah karein kyu, Sab ne hamara kiya kya”
And do check this website if you have interest in Candid Photography
Best Candid Photographers in Bhopal – Gesture Photography
You inspire me, the day I started to read your blogs until now. I am also a 23 year old lady and every month I struggle to save my hard earned money so that I can save it and go for my trips
So beautiful and inspiring! Keep on your works! 🙂
Finally I found where to comment..hehe!!! Wow…that’s like a person who chose to live her dreams just like a living soul it meant to be and ideally a “Free Bird”
Very inspirational blog
Very inspiring story, fortunate to read. Looking forward to your visit in Nepal.
Love your feed!
Hello Shivya Nath, I am working for two weeks in Kuala Lumpur, ready to start a contemporary creation with students from here and many others places. During my research about a new idea to build a choreography work, found you blog. Was so fulfilling to read it!! Thank You!!
You are my idol in terms of making a living by travelling. Thank you for sharing your feelings about various aspects of life and other matters of concern like work life balance, relations etc. You make us feel this is doable. That dreams are doable.
Wow this is impressive. Such brave thing to do, to pack up and travel without a home base. I love to travel but don’t know if I could do this. Love how you broke this out into all the aspects of your life a great example of the nomadic life! Best of luck on your travels!
Hi! You come across like a very deep and introspective person. Also, very brave. Keep shining like this and inspiring millions like me to start their own journeys. 🙂
This is truly a travel inspiration.Best of luck on your travels!
this is awesome and i hope you enjoyed Ecuador (it’s beautiful – but i’m Ecuadorian so maybe i’m biased). i’ve just started on a similar journey about letting go of things and ideas to make room for what i love (nature, travel, sustainability). I hope you can check it out 🙂
Ever since. Your book hit the store. I got bit by a travel bug. Surely will pack my bags one day.
An amazing article by an amazing person. It is really inspiring and one day I too would like to travel like a free bird.
Nice blog! Loved the way how beautifully you wrote your experience and your feelings.Keep sharing this amazing content.
Amazing! This is real life. Leave everything behind and explore the world.
i really liked your blog it was amazing to read thanks for sharing your experiences.
I need to thank you for this wonderful read!Amazing work. Please keep continue your good work and keep posting these interesting articles. this post is very helpful,Thanks you shared great content.keep it up.I love your blog and subscribed it for latest post.
You are a true inspiration when it comes to travelling and living life to the fullest. Living like a free bird.
Thanks Shivya for sharing this post. Just amazing to see you make the maximum from the world of travel and sharing your experiences. Keep up your great work. Best wishes A
This is amazingly inspiring post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Hi Shivya !! I would like a little advice from you on being nomad travellers, I am planning to freelance as spanish translator to keep up my expenses and gradually open doors for travelling, also want to explore content writing ,blogs etc, Would like to know pros and cons of it !!
Felt really good just by having a look of your website and to know about the adventures. I have also started a blog and i would really appreciate if you give me some tips on it.
Hi! You come across like a very deep and introspective person. Also, very brave. Keep shining like this and inspiring millions like me to start their own journeys. 🙂
I am very inspired by your travelling passion. i will read your book the shooting star.
thank you so much for sharing your wonderful experience and for giving travel tips.
Wow. I wish I had the guts to do this. It’s been really interesting reading this post and some of your other travels since! Keep up the good work gal.
This post inspired me, really. I have been thinking about quitting my job then travel for more than a year, but I am still have a office job. Really admire you and hope soon I will have the courage to do so.
That was indeed an experience of a lifetime.
You are really an amazing person and inspiring person. Love to read more blogs of yours like these. Thank you for inspiring us.
wow, this is very inspiring, i enjoyed reading your experience
Dear Shivya, I have discovered your blog and Instagram account through the article at the Washington Post in 2019 (we were in there too). I have been since following your thoughts and adventures and I admire the way you travel and see the World. In this crazy fast moving circle you find time to stop, think and savour the moment!
Great to have discovered your works!
Warmest wishes from Germany,
My neighbors child (age20) did something like this. She packed a bag with all the essentials and went to help an African village. She was there for nearly a year and only used her phone once a week to contact her mum as she had to travel miles just to get signal. She returned wiser and older than her years. And now material things do not matter to her. She is an inspiration to us.
Short but most inspiring article I ever read, after reading your article I just want that life, I always dreamed of such a life you also give the way to live such a life I love to travel to explore the whole world move freely, confidently, saw all ancient places and know about their history a long long drive to a most scenic places of the world. I just so happy to read your article
I am in love with the term “nomad”. It’s fascinating to me how you are able to press pause on life and reinvent yourself. Just amazed.