We Travel in Search of What we Need, and Return “Home” to Find it.

A few weeks ago, I unexpectedly happened to catch up with a friend in Morocco. When she innocently asked what I’d been upto, I blurted out that I felt like a complete idiot. Ever since the pandemic, I’ve been making these big decisions, only to reconsider them a few weeks or months later, and make polar opposite ones.

You probably know that I had lived out of two bags since 2013, until the pandemic hit. I guess I was pretty content slow travelling the world as a digital nomad – blogging and freelance writing at the intersection of immersive and sustainable travel.

Two or so years of being in lockdown (mostly in Goa), sent me on many different professional paths. I began pursuing a master’s degree, formalised my consulting work, and declared that I was no longer travelling full time.

When we felt too weary in Goa, my partner and I moved to an incredible mountain abode in Himachal. Life felt pretty close to perfect.

At our close to perfect mountain abode in Himachal.

But then the abode went into renovation at short notice, and we thought the universe was urging us back to Goa… except within a week, we realized we’d misread the signs. After those quiet months in Himachal, the humidity and bustling traffic of Goa suddenly felt like too much to handle.

So back we went to Himachal, to spend the monsoon in a mud house and eventually sign a year-long lease on an unfurnished village house. That’s the first time in a decade that I signed a rent agreement that lasted longer than 3 months! Suddenly, we were spending our days chasing down carpenters and plumbers.

I slowly tried to settle into this new, definitive life. As part of my climate action plan to reduce flying in 2023, I refused tempting travel opportunities. I watched the seasons change, hiked everywhere, found some folks to play basketball with, and was beautifully surprised by an autumn filled with cherry blossom!

Cherry blossom in autumn in Himachal – who would’ve thought?

But time soon started to feel infinite and unending. The days merged into other days. Conversations with neighbors and friends seemed to be on a loop. I felt like a hamster on a wheel, dreaming of the world beyond.

Then Morocco appeared on the horizon. A two-week cycling trip through popular cities and remote villages across the country. Time in the Sahara Desert and the High Atlas. A chance to learn the inner workings of a travel company (Intrepid Travel) at the forefront of sustainable travel. HELL YES.

An epic and introspective cycling trip across Morocco.

One night, with a few more days to spare before our visa ran out, we watched the last sunset of 2023 by a kasbah (fortress) in Essaouira. The waves of the Atlantic Ocean crashed on the shore. The sun washed the sky and the stone in shades of orange. The song of folk musicians merged with that of the waves.

Sitting there, it hit me that trying to determine the future makes me more anxious than just letting it go.

That in the last 3 years, I’ve missed the free-spiritedness that made me chase and live the life I did. I’ve missed the joy of not knowing, not deciding, not declaring. I’ve missed the ‘me’ who was untethered – to a place, to a way of being.

I have no idea what happens next. Do we eventually go back to Himachal? Do we use our one month notice period to get out of the year long lease? Do I hit the road again? Do I downsize to two bags again? Do I embark on adventurous land journeys again? Is it really travel that still lures me or just the idea of it?

idea of home
Will we eventually go back to these mountains?

As the sun sank into the Atlantic, not knowing, not deciding, not declaring felt okay. It felt like a relief.

The time I’ve spent in Morocco has been many things. But most of all, it has been a reminder that we travel in search of what we need, but return home to find it (borrowed from George Moore’s words). The road feels like that “home” for me.

If you’re still here and made it this far on my journey, tell me what detours your life has taken? What do you hope 2024 will be like?

PS: With my many detours in life, I’ve also strayed far away from the soul of this blog. In 2024, I’ve pledged to come back to travel blogging – for the joy of writing, sharing travel adventures, and having real conversations that don’t feel as fleeting as they do on social media.

PPS: My blog has a new look! It’s still work in progress, and I’ll share the backstory soon. But until then, check it out here.

Connect with me on Instagram for my on-going Morocco series.

Also read:

On Life and Detachment: A Conversation With Buddhist Monks in Thailand

Why Travelling in Japan is Like Nowhere Else in the World

Why Long Term Travel is More Like Real Life and Less Like Instagram

the shooting star academy, get paid to travel course

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19 Comments

  1. Life is not always what you think it to be or turns out the way you want. That happens to all of us. Many things appear to be great business opportunities from a distance; when you dig deeper and explore more, you realize it is not as rosy as it seems. You are back to the drawing board. It is also about perspective that constantly keeps shifting. Hope you are doing well, Shivya. It has been quite some time since I read your last blog.

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      I realized a few days ago that I only published 7 blog posts last year 🥺 That’s the lowest I’ve ever done and it broke my heart to think how much I’ve ignored this blog and all the joy it gives me. So I’m back this year – you’ll be reading a lot from me (hopefully)! And so true – life is so full of surprises and I guess that’s what keeps it interesting. How’ve you been all this time, Arv?

  2. Rajendra Nargundkar says:

    Your life is yours to live, as you see fit, with as many flip-flops as you like. I am living an exciting life (by my standards)- launching a new brand in education, thinking about launching more programs, marketing the brand in the North-east of India among other places, interacting with new people, writing a case with a bootstrapped entrepreneur about her journey, meeting old students and friends. Have also trained a few students in Golf! More of all this, I suppose, in 2024.

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      That sounds exciting indeed! Would love to learn more about your education brand and the programs you have in mind. I launched my first course a few months ago, and have thoroughly enjoyed the process of creation and the monthly live class I offer as part of the course.

      And yes, thanks for the reminder – my life to make make flip-flops, I see many more coming 😉 Who said adulting was easy?

  3. Anupama Chib says:

    “That in the last 3 years, I’ve missed the free-spiritedness that made me chase and live the life I did. I’ve missed the joy of not knowing, not deciding, not declaring. I’ve missed the ‘me’ who was untethered – to a place, to a way of being.”
    After reading this paragraph I realized that the unexpected , the not knowing is what quantum field is all about . An open space where we are receptive of the unknown, the magic , the everything and anything. So , you go girl. Be the untethered you . I can so relate to this paragraph. You are one of the authentic beings on this earth and I am glad that I know of you. Waiting for more books written by you. Lots of love n best wishes

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      Thanks Anupama – I’ve seen hints of that me every now and then in the last 1.5 months, but I need to actively find that version or some similar version of me again. Lots of inner work to do. That’s such an interesting perspective on quantum – anything you can direct me to read more?

  4. “We carry inside us the wonders we seek outside us.” — Rumi

    It takes a lot of time and contemplation to figure this out. We are always a work in progress.

    In December 2023 in a kind of obvious epiphany, I realized my life’s purpose (for the near future) i.e. to teach children Social and Emotional Skills & Expressive Writing to help them become whole human beings. Come New Year 2024 I enrolled in TEFL certification and SEL courses. While also being consistent on my blog and newsletter on Substack.

    Earlier I thought of staying in my current job till 40 and now life is calling me to quit much earlier.

    PS: I like the current look and feel of your blog better now. It is clean.

    PPS: Eagerly looking forward to your blogs here more frequently as I have deleted Instagram!

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      We indeed are a work in process – what a beautiful way to put, Aman. And sounds like you’ve found a beautiful path. I’ve dabbled my feet into teaching too (an online course and an upcoming workshop) over the last few months and found it really rewarding so far! I’d be curious to hear if you end up answering life’s call, now that you seem to have found your calling?

      And yes, more blog posts, promise! Must be so liberating to have deleted instagram.

  5. This quote resonates deeply with my own travel experiences. Often, the journey itself becomes a quest for fulfillment, and it’s remarkable how, upon returning home, we realize that what we were seeking was within us or in the familiarity of our own surroundings. Travel is not just about places; it’s a journey of self-discovery and finding the essence of ‘home’ in unexpected places.

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      So true Samir. I feel like I’m slowly returning home, to the road, which is the only place I’ve ever truly felt like I belong. Glad this resonated.

  6. You are such a pleasure to read, for both content and skill. You inspire. ‘We travel in search of what we need and return home to find it.’ What a brilliant quote that raises the question of where home is. It’s where we find what we need. What I search for is real connection and truth (not my favourite word, but the best one for what I am trying to say). Both of those I find best on journeys where strangers are less likely to hide from other strangers and we can catch glimpses of each other. Back in my village there are games of retreat, of complicated group dynamics, of old stories, of labels, of betrayals that can feel like a slow spinning of a suffocating web. Yet it is also a place of long-term friendship and a connection to the land, with time to raise a child, grow vegetables and watch the seasons change.
    But I would suffocate without the adventure of long-distance foot journeys. I would also slowly forget the dreams I have that I still hope to come true. They currently manifest as ultra marathons in my life. They are journeys of discovery, also of self.
    This year I want to write more too and start to build towards my dream of a year long foot journey across Africa (north to south), actually walking back to my childhood home. 2023 saw little seedlings appear in my life as I set up my own run coaching and yoga teaching business. I do this only small scale, alongside my job as a medic, but it brings me immense pleasure.
    I look forward to your writing Shivya and wish you ongoing success in all your endeavors in 2024.

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      A year long foot journey across Africa?! Wow Thia, that sounds absolutely incredible. I’d love to hear more about how you plan to go about it – maybe even inspire myself to dream up a crazy adventure in the years to come! I completely identify with what you say about the joy of both, strange lands and more familiar ones. I guess it all depends on how we see, perceive and feel them.

  7. This post resonated with me. not the traveling part as i havent travelled much yet. But the detour part . I am also entering back to the world of blogging which though seems outdated … but it still entices me. i know that no body has time to read a blog these days … but i read your blog word by word and there is joy in it . for the reader as well as the writer.
    I know your state but soon you will figure out your what why and how .
    I myself am planning a detour and i am clueless.

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      I’m so glad that despite all my detours, you’re still here and reading what I’m writing. That’s validation enough that blogging isn’t as outdated as we make it out to be. I’m sure your detour will be adventure too Malvika, and you’ll figure it out as you go along!

  8. Well that was nice to read for sure. The only thing that came my mind is , ‘you’re just living life’ . Literally no need to over think it, which in the end you’ve already understood. But! But! But! .somewhere sometimes this letting go just doesn’t settle well in heart or mind. I feel it’s not just letting go. It’s more like you just own this person you are and hence the way of being , existing. When you totally own it, even what you might think is random, or fickle, or rigid or discipled then something cool happens. Owning your actions and life, just knowing it’s all good allows you to let go and be super cool and dynamic with how you deal with any situation. Also from what you wrote looks like you guys did actually do just that. So congratulations, you’re living life on your terms, already. Maybe you all just don’t own it yet.
    Loads of gyan, apologies in advance.

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      Overthinking is exactly what this is! Thanks for sharing this perspective Anand. I could never imagine my own terms could feel burdensome at some point – letting go is the only way forward.

  9. Syona Sachdeva says:

    Ah this is very relatable. Especially the moment you start thinking about the future, making definite sure decisions only to change or doubt them a few weeks/months later. But i guess that is what going with the flow is? Following your heart & soul? And hopefully it will take us to the places we belong, our home. (Just a guess😅)

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