Soul of Travel: Women's Empowerment and Travel Podcast

Storytelling From Sustainable and Transformational Travel with Shiyva Nath

February 22, 2023 Christine Winebrenner Irick, hosted by Lotus Sojourns Season 4 Episode 117
Soul of Travel: Women's Empowerment and Travel Podcast
Storytelling From Sustainable and Transformational Travel with Shiyva Nath
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Show Notes Transcript

“My work has changed everything I think I know about life… it's really allowed me to figure out who I am as a person and what my values are, but also to allow things that I haven't known before to influence what I am going to be going forward.” ​​​​​​~ Shivya Nath

Christine’s guest this week is Shivya Nath, bestselling author and founder of Climate Conscious Travel. Shivya creates stories at the intersection of travel, the environment, and local communities on her blog and in publications like BBC Travel, The Washington Post, and Lonely Planet. She also launched the digital storytelling platform Voices of Rural India. At age 23, Shivya quit her nine-to-five corporate job with a dream of traveling the world and gave up her home, sold most of her belongings, and began living the digital nomad life. Shivya is a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, Instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveler, vegan, and environmentalist. But in her heart, she's just a girl who believes in the transformational power of travel. 

In this week’s episode, Christine and Shivya discuss:

  • Climate awareness and what it means to travel for past, present, and future
  • The human connection to storytelling
  • Taking a moment to be present and celebrate our efforts as entrepreneurs
  • How to bring values of slow, sustainable, and regenerative travel into your travel experiences
  • Traveling while practicing a vegan lifestyle
  • Creating content consciously
  • Utilizing social media to create impact with your storytelling

Join Christine now for this soulful conversation with Shivya Nath.

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To learn more about Climate Conscious Travel, visit the website at Connect with Shivya on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook! Read Shivya’s blog here.

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To read a complete transcript, see full show notes, and access resources and links mentioned in this episode, head to

Credits. Christine Winebrenner Irick (Host, creator, editor). Shivya Nath (Guest). Original music by Clark Adams. Editing, production, and content writing by Carly Oduardo.

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Christine: My guest today is Shivya Nath. Shivya is a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, Instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveler, vegan and environmentalist. But in her heart, she's just a girl who believes in the transformational power of travel. At age 23, she quit her nine to five corporate job with a dream of traveling the world. Soon after she gave up her home, sold most of her belongings, and began living nomadically. As she traveled, she made a choice to become vegan and decided to cut out all animal products from her diet and lifestyle. In 2018, she published a book called The Shooting Star about her personal journey and how her travels have shaped her life's choices. She was overwhelmed when it became a national bestseller in just over a month of release. It is currently in its fourth reprint. In 2019, Shivya released the Shooting Star collection, sustainable travel inspired clothing that raises funds to grow forests in India. 

Christine: Most recently, she co-founded Voices of Rural India and founded Climate Conscious Travel. I love all of the ways that Shivya shows up to create change aligned with her values. In our conversation, we talk about her journey to get where she is today, and how important acting in alignment with her values is to her. She shares about her early travel, a more recent experience in Chile, and her most recent business, Climate Conscious travel. Love these soulful conversations? We rely on listener support to produce our podcast. You can support me in amplifying the voices of women by making a donation via PayPal. The link is in the show notes. Join me now for my soulful conversation with Shivya Nath. 

Christine: Welcome to Soul of Travel podcast. Today I'm very excited to be speaking with Shivya Nath, and she is a travel writer photographer, digital nomad, environmentalist, and someone who, who I was drawn to because of the way that you tell stories and the way that you've authentically express your values and how I see that being shown in the way you are creating all of the things that you have brought into travel and writing and, uh, activism and all, all the different parts of yourselves. Like I can really, uh, feel like I have a strong sense of who you are. And so I was so drawn to that and started following you, and we've been talking, I think for about a year or more to try to have you join me on the podcast. So, Shivya, I'm so excited that you're here and I can't wait for this conversation. 

Shivya: Thank you so much, Christine. It's so great to be here. Uh, I think I, I've also followed you for a long time in our careers. Um, and I've heard some great episodes on your podcast as well, so it's an honor to be here. Thanks for having me. 

Christine: Thank you. Well, as we begin our conversation, I would love for you to just take a moment and introduce yourself and kinda let our listeners know who you are in the space of travel right now. And then we'll kind of go backwards and look a little bit at your journey to get here. 

Shivya: So I guess I have multiple identities in the, in the state of travel right now, which I'm also trying to navigate. Um, but I'm the founder of Climate Conscious Travel, which is an impact consultancy that I launched last year. Um, and my goal with Climate Conscious Travel is really to work with businesses and destinations to integrate community-centric climate action in their <inaudible>. So that's everything from figuring out how they can reduce their carbon footprint while, um, you know, doing carbon remove in a way that is beneficial locally to the areas that they're, uh, you know, having their fixed or having accommodation with. Uh, it also means climate awareness. Uh, you know, travel is such a powerful feature, but, uh, we're still not talking about climate change when we're, you know, out in some of the wild risk parts of our planet. And it's such a means opportunity that, um, we really need to build that into educating travelers about what's happening with climate change. 

Shivya: And when you experience it yourself in person, it's so much stronger and it drives you actually. Uh, so that's something we're doing well. But before I launch Climate Conscious Traveling, um, I was in still Am, uh, I've been a travel writer for a decade now. I think I, I kind with the two years of the pandemic, but, um, I've been writing stories at the intersection of, uh, of slow travel and mindful travel, um, and really trying to center, you know, environmental aspects as well as local community. So, um, I've, I've written for everyone from Travel Geographic and so on, but I'm also a travel blocker and Instagram, so of the, uh, but my goal is really to kinda of inspire people to travel in a way that makes a bigger difference to their own selves, but also to the places and the people they visit. Uh, so that kinda drives everything that I'm doing right now. 

Christine: Yeah. Thank you. 

Shivya: And that's, that's my introduction. 

Christine: Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, thank you so much. I appreciate that. And, um, you know, talking about inspiring people to travel in a more meaningful and impactful way, obviously that's very much where we overlap. And I love, uh, for me, reading your work, it always helps me set the bar higher <laugh>. So I always think, you know, what else could I do? And I am un continually inspired by how you are able to, to create even more impact when you travel. And I, I think that's so important because there's so many ways and there's so many different ways of thinking about it. And I think, uh, as travelers, we have to find the thing that we're really passionate about and then turn that into the way that we create an impact. And I think that's one way that people can really lean into those choices. And, and like I said, I, I see that in the way that you write and the way that you have told the story of moving through the world through, you know, social media and your blog and your articles. And so, uh, I would love to just understand a little bit more how you moved into this, uh, profession. So can you share a little bit about when you knew that you had this passion for travel and when you decided to really turn this into your way of being and living? 

Shivya: So I guess I have to take you back to my first corporate job, which was back in two nine, I think, when I graduated from university. Um, and that is the time financial recession. So, uh, the company that I to work with, like, it was mostly since I did a, um, I did a second major in marketing, and that's where my interest came. So, uh, so I was looking to work with like the p with the world, but, um, it so happened that they weren't hiring at the time. And, uh, the best job I could land was the Singapore, uh, because that's where I was at the time. Um, and I just happened to, you know, be in the digital marketing team. Um, and at that time it was like a really tiny team because, you know, nobody really believed that India could be the next six thing or digital marketing could. 

Shivya: And so, uh, we were like a really, like a small, uh, team, and we were doing some amazing work together, but we also have to really fight our battles to prove to people that social media work. Um, and I think it was during that time that I started following travel writers. And, uh, it's of course really fascinating from the outside when you imagine someone, uh, you know, who's traveling and can being safe to travel the world. Um, and I thought, wow, this is not the bill was, that's the job I won. So, um, so I decided to convince, uh, managed to convince my boss to give me a couple of months of unpaid from work. Uh, and during that time, I spent the first month volunteer traveling, uh, in a place in the, in India. And, uh, even though I grew up in India, I never traveled in India, definitely not traveled solo. 

Shivya: So, uh, this is a big leap of place to kinda, uh, you know, take, take time off from my work in Singapore and come back to India and travel to this really remote place. Um, and I spent that month volunteer traveling. So, um, I was working with an organization which was essentially a social enterprise. So they use tourism as a means to bring about, uh, sustainable development in the region. So a lot of that money is invested back into, um, you know, creating solar bar, uh, solar energy in remote, which are either off grid or don't have enough university. Um, and, and so just, um, being there and kinda learning about their work really inspired me and it felt like this is something I could do. Cause I really enjoy the traveling aspect of it. But then it also seemed like we could use travel as a way to, uh, create an impact in the world. 

Shivya: Um, and I still needed to figure out how that would look like for me, but I think that was the starting point of my journey. Cause, uh, on this trip was the first time at September billion stars, uh, ID them, which I, which was, uh, quite unheard of at that time in India when people were doing as. Um, and at the same time I was people who were doing some inspiring work and being able to support them through the organization. Uh, so it was all sort of, you know, it became a whole picture to me that I should follow and <inaudible>, and that's where it started. 

Christine: Yeah. Thank you. Uh, I think that's so amazing to think about how the ways that things reveal themselves to you. You know, that before you started that trip, none of this would've been how you pictured you, you know, spending your life. And all of a sudden you have an experience like this and you see all these pieces come together and pieces that maybe don't make sense from the outside, but you just know that it's again, like aligned with who you are, or it, it kind of awakens a part of yourself that you didn't know yet. Um, I feel like so many of the women I, I speak to, that's a part of how travel became a part of their life as it really told them about who they are and what they wanted to be and the impact that they wanted to create by traveling. 

Christine: So I, I think that's really, really a great experience. Um, in terms of, you mentioned you hadn't really traveled much in India before and hadn't traveled solo before. What was that like for you to, to kind of, I know a lot of people I've talked to when they think about traveling solo for the first time, especially as a woman, there's a lot of things you have to overcome or a lot of ways you have to push yourself. But what was the value of that experience for you then? And certainly a lot of value for you now? 

Shivya: Uh, so I think that's a great question. Um, I think, uh, what happened with me was, um, while I was in Singapore and planning this trip, it all sounded really romantic in my head. Uh, but I, I kind made the mistake of studying, uh, like my first few days in India visiting my them. So, um, we ha I think it was probably the most challenging, uh, week or 10 days I've spent with my school. Uh, cause they were really terrified that the idea of me going to this place all by myself. Um, and I think I spent a lot of that time just fighting their fear that I kind of forgot that I probably happier of my own that haven't surfaced yet. Um, and maybe in a way that helped because, uh, I really wanted to convince them that, you know, I've got this. And in the process I kind ended up convincing myself. 


Um, so I think a in a strange way, like their peers, even though some of them were projected on me, like, I think it, it kind of helped me overcome my own fear and kind of, uh, really push myself and make sure that I'm ready to do this, uh, even if it was dis prove to them that I could do this. Um, so I get the first couple of days were a little bit more wise, but, uh, I always feel like in India, like the more remote you go, uh, the safer it feels. Um, and so in this case it is called city, uh, city Valley. It's, uh, it's really quite far away from the rest of the country. So you have to spend, uh, almost two days on the road to get there. Um, and it's actively spectacular and stop. But also, people live really isolated night. And so when people come from outside, you know, you really have changes with complete change. Um, and I think that the team such a comfort zone that I felt like, you know, this is what I'm meant to do. So it was a great place for a, for a solo trip. Um, and I guess what I experienced for home kind of pushed me to, uh, conquer my own fear, or at least fight them, put them away. 


Yeah. I, I think that is one of the things that turns out to be the most powerful thing about travel, is how you learn the strength that you have within yourself, especially in those situations. And like you said, if you're battling your fears or projected fears, either way it's something that you're navigating. And as you work your way through those, you become so much stronger on the other side, and you then can take on bigger and bigger challenges as travelers, as professionals. Um, I think it's just such a, a valuable experience for people. And, um, I I think that it's such a strong foundation for, for what you have been doing. Um, I know that you ended up publishing a book called The Shooting Star, which is also the name of your blog. Um, can you share a little bit about how you got into that and decided to write the book and, and where that journey came together? 


Yeah. So, um, so I think the book kind of, it almost happened to me. It wasn't something that I had consciously planned to do because, um, I think I very much enjoyed some gratification of blog and social media or even writing for, uh, you know, uh, other publications. Uh, but the book itself was a, it was a very different time, longer journey. Cause you're spending so much of time and, uh, I guess, um, putting so much of yourself into it and you don't know, uh, you know, if it's gonna ever, if anyone publishing's gonna read it. Um, and so even though like this had been, it was at the back of my head when people had, you know, suggested it pretty often, uh, I never really thought that I would actually write a book. Uh, but I think it happened, uh, to me when I went for an aas, uh, ceremony in. 


And so, um, I know that are very different perceptions that didn't have about it, but, um, I kind of did it with, with the shaman who's been, uh, living in the, for all his life, um, and through a student who's, uh, been studying with him for the past 20 years. So, um, I guess in that sense it was more authentic than, um, some of them that is offered in other parts of the world. Um, but during that, uh, it was a very, very intensive student. And I ended up discipline parts of my childhood than that I had no conscious connection of. But one of the things that, uh, kind of came to me during that time was, uh, was a book with this, uh, really colorful cover. Um, and I think at that point it hit that, yeah, I am gonna write a book someday and this is what it might look like. 


Uh, and many years later, the, uh, really did happen. So, uh, so the book was really about my journey, uh, in, in my twenties. So really about growing up in a small town in India with a pretty conservative family, and then kind of, um, you know, adopting this, uh, nomadic lifestyle where I was so, and of world C communities, they've been learning about their life. Um, and it was also a journey from a regular 95 corporate job to use, uh, <inaudible>. So I get into the combination of, uh, both my travels and my personal journey. Um, and yeah, that's, that's how the book came about. 


Yeah. Um, my, like, inner child loves all of that because, and I think that's also something I didn't realize was so resonant for the work that you do is growing up. Um, I, every time I would learn about a different, um, like indigenous population in some region, or just a culture that was so different than mine, I always just imagined myself going there and living with them and learning everything. And just like trying to understand how all these different places looked in different parts of the world. Like I, when I was young, I just really wanted pretty much the experiences that you're, you're sharing about, right? Like, I really wanted to spend time and I wanted to kind of have the opportunity to belong to these different cultures and, and be able to, to spend more time there so that I could have a deeper understanding of their way of life and their beliefs and rituals and, um, just community in general. 


And I, I didn't realize until later in life that that wasn't very common <laugh>. I just, it's just how I, how I was so curious about experiencing the world. And so every time I see someone doing that, it just really speaks to that part of me that always fantasized about that experience. Um, and so I, I really love that. But what has traveling that, that way allowed for in your life in terms of slow travel connection with community and really beginning to understand places? And then I would say that probably also lends itself to a more ethical storytelling because of the depth of knowledge you have about a place. But what does, what has that journey been like for you? 


So I think that journey, as I think experience as well, uh, has been transformative on in every sense of the word. Uh, so right. Challenging, you know, my world views on pretty much everything, uh, that I've learned growing up or what taught in school or picked up in college. Um, I think it changed. My work has changed, uh, everything I, I think I know about life, but at the same time, keeping this space to further evolved, you know, my belief and I philosophy and uh, so forth. So I think, uh, it's really allowed me to, um, nudge just to figure out who I am as a person and what my values are, but also to kind of allow, um, you know, things that I haven't known before to kind of influence, uh, what I am going to be going forward. Um, and I think that's, that's such, that's so powerful. 


Cause you know, we, we live in such polarizing times. We live in the time of, of climate emergency and a lot of other things. Um, and just being out there and learning from the world in so transformative in, um, in personal ways, uh, and inspective ways. Uh, and I think it's really influence every part of my journey. And, uh, of course, ethical, uh, storytelling or storytelling is one of them because, um, I feel like, you know, as travelers we can, we can either show up in a place and, you know, uh, just see what happens, or we can be a bit more aware about where we are going, why we're going, why we're spend time there, there, how much time are we spending there, uh, where we're gonna stay, who we're gonna interact with. Um, and that doesn't mean planning everything to retreat, but just being aware of the local choices that we make because those can themselves to then, like, experiences that we can never imagine having. 

Shivya: Uh, and those experiences, internal transport, transformers, workforce and professionally. Um, and at the same time, they have an impact on the, on the places that we go to and the we, the communities that live there. Storytelling is one way to, um, to kind, I guess not educate, but, uh, kinda throw people a little bit to think a little bit more about their choices. Uh, cause it has, it can have an impact on them, uh, and it can definitely have an impact on the places that they're going through. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So that's where it all sense them. 

Christine: Yeah. And I, I do think we really connect as humans, we connect to stories. So, like you said, it, it is maybe not always meant as a tool for education, but as people read and connect, it will be influencing their worldviews and their way of understanding the world. And so I think there's such a responsibility in how we share those stories and the stories we choose to tell, and thinking about what that looks like after we put it out into the world. I think as creators and travel writers we're, we're so often thinking about, you know, doing, having the experience, writing about it, how we wanna tell the story, and then like getting it published, and then that feels like the big win. But then we have to think about like, what are the things that happen after that? And I think that just becomes this more holistic way of looking at, at writing and at creation and at storytelling. 

Christine: Um, and a lot of people that won't have the privilege to travel the way that we have this is, is this is gonna be the thing that, like you said, shapes their world views and their cultural understanding, because they won't have that experience firsthand. So I, I do think it's, it's so important and we, we just connect to that in a different way than like a news report. You know, I'm gonna really relate to this intimate account of a conversation with some woman in a village somewhere. Like, I'm gonna really become into that experience even if I wasn't there in a way that I won't if I hear the same statistics or facts or ideas, like on the headline of a paper. And so I think this is one thing that I, I really appreciate about the way that you have written and have told the stories of destinations and of people. 

Christine: Um, and I I was wondering if you could share a little bit about, um, I know, well, I also don't know time anymore. I was gonna say, I think it was last year, but I don't know when you went to Chile <laugh> and you were, um, were writing there, their, uh, when you went for the work for Humankind project. I would love to hear more about that. That was, I think, maybe one of the things that threw you in front of my radar. Um, but I, I was really interested in this project and the pieces that you've written as afterwards. So I'd love for you to share about that. 

Shivya: Yeah, I would love to talk about it because it's, uh, it's really been a likely to do for me in new ways, and I think it's right. But, uh, this is a project that I was started by Lenovo and, uh, their goal was kinda, uh, to connect this remote, um, you know, island community. So the island is called Cruso, and it's located about six, seven kilometers of the coast of Chile. So it's really far out in the tic. And, uh, it's actually one of the hardest places to get to. Um, I know that our travel, it's like travel, try to get there for several weeks and just haven't managed to, because you need people weather condition, um, and then everything logistically to work out. Um, and so, uh, this, to be invited to this, uh, opportunity. So we, we went through like several rounds of streaming and, uh, there was a psychometric analysis to, uh, to figure out, you know, as a server you can handle remote for a month. 

Shivya: But, um, there were about five were brought together to this island from different parts of the world. Um, and the goal was to, uh, two fold. So one was to prove that, uh, you know, with technology we can work from anywhere in the world today can bring an island as so, so we could continue our, uh, our jobs or whatever we did for living on the, uh, and at the same time, it was some time, uh, and skills, uh, volunteering on the island. So working with the island community on, uh, different aspects of their lives. And, uh, you know, what they said was important for them. So two of the projects that I initiated when I was there was, uh, one is a community because, um, back in the day, like about the 1980s or so, uh, most of the food that was consumed on the island was grown there. 

Shivya: Uh, but since television came into their lives, um, and, uh, they have, uh, they have fishing, which is really popular. So, um, since that came into their lives, uh, a lot of people kind stop farming, um, and many community members kind the loss of just, uh, you know, foreign. Um, and so we started working with the local community, um, to reship, uh, community from, uh, on the island. So we had a partner plan that we were able to, uh, get from the municipality and really get the children and some of the adults work in the project. Uh, and that's something that's on the island now. Um, and then the second thing was, uh, that the island, cause it's more specific island, uh, all the city comes to, so they can about 1300 liters day, which is, uh, a lot of, uh, and the footprint of that high. 

Shivya: So at the moment we're still saying, um, uh, I kind of help put together a proposal and, uh, we to have the funds we need to do a pilot project to energy to the island. Um, and we're still trying to raise the other half, uh, but hopefully by the end of this year we should be able to do a pilot project there. Um, and so the project is incredibly powerful. Cause, uh, on a personal level, uh, it was an opportunity for me to work with this, um, just remote community that is very much in play of nature. Um, and the island actually has more biodiversity than in, um, so we, and there are more species that involve in isolation on the island. So they have this, uh, beautiful, uh, LittleBird, it's a very color, and they're only found on the, and there less the entire world. They're only found there. Um, and so we talk about and things like that, but to really see it upwards is pretty transformational. Um, and so both and professionally, I felt like, you know, this is, this is where like, I mean, this is what travel to be where you have these and allow to transform you on a personal professional level. Um, and cause after that decided to travel, transform the way we work, and yeah, that's a project. 

Christine: Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. And I also just wanted to mention that, that one of your pieces of writing was nominated by the wonderful community for a Bessie award, for the most impactful piece of writing. Um, and on your article that you wrote a bit about this experience traveling in Chile, and, um, a again, that was one of the things that was really resonant for me when I read it. So I just wanted to acknowledge that, um, uh, for your work as well. I, I love the wonderful community and the way they also are trying to bring light to some of the impactful work that women are doing in tourism around the world. Yeah, I think that it, it's so great to be able to celebrate one another's work. And I think that that's not often something that we spend time doing. Again, it's like we get to the point where we release things into the world and it's very exciting to win the awards, but sometimes we're already like onto the next thing, and we don't take a moment to like, receive that recognition. And I think this is something that's valuable in general when you're thinking in your business and when you are, um, creative. Like, you just have to take a moment to be present instead of always being in moments of creation that are keeping you ahead and forward. So I think that's, uh, something our listeners might also relate to is just the ability to pause and, uh, like absorb something that has happened. I'm very bad at that, so I'm really trying to be more conscious. <laugh>, 

Shivya: I feel like especially actually ended up kinda underplaying that peoples, and, uh, that's really another great to function, uh, professionally and first team. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Uh, but yeah, I'm really bad at it as well, but I, I always try to take that home and just think, okay, this is worth something. Um, but yeah, doesn't happen. 

[Advertisement] Christine: Hey, it's Christine interrupting this podcast to share some big news. I'll be setting off on a year of travel with my three daughters, beginning in June of 2023, we'll be exploring the world together, visiting my incredible community of soul of travel guests and connecting with Lotus Sojourns Impact Partners, while looking for new experiences to offer in the future. We'll share our adventures on the Lotus Sojourns website and Instagram, but the best way to keep track of us will be through our newsletter. So if you aren't already on my list, now is the perfect time to join. You'll even have the opportunity to join us in a few locations for mother and daughter and family Sojourns. Details will be coming soon in the newsletter about sojourns in Guatemala, Mexico, and Ecuador. You'll also have opportunities to join us in a less formal capacity. We'll share when will be somewhere and give you the information on how to book and join us. 

Christine: We are so excited about this opportunity to bring soulful conversations and connections out into the world, and to have you join us along the way. Again, make sure you join our newsletter by visiting the Lotus Sojourns website, and you'll receive the information you need to join our year in the world. Sojourn. Now let's hop back to our soulful conversation. Yeah, yeah. Um, well, you were also talking a little bit about, um, well, for instance, for that trip, the, the planning and preparation, but I, I did wanna talk to you because you were, you have spent so much time limiting, um, as a digital nomad in traveling, although I do believe right now you just kind of dropped an anchor. You can correct me if I'm wrong, but, um, what, what does it take to kind of prepare for that and plan for that and going from destination to destination to, um, I guess I'm getting ready to travel with my daughters for three year or for three years, my three daughters for one year. 

Christine: And we are really wanting to be able to take some of the values of Soul of Travel and Lotus Sojourns and put that into practice. So we're, we are constantly looking for destinations where we can connect with women's social impact projects, where we can stay at more sustainable properties. We're thinking about how we can limit our carbon emissions as we travel, all of those things. How, how do you bring those values that you have into your preparation and how could you maybe share with other travelers who have ways that they want to bring their values into their travel experience? How do we navigate that? 

Shivya: That's a great question, and I'm kinda outta touch because, uh, I did kinda drop an anchor this year. Um, I think during the pandemic it was more outta circumstance to be based in one place, but the pandemic as you spent, like, I couldn't justify. I think I've flow more than my fair head and I would can't justify doing that anymore. Um, and that is one of the triggers to kinda find contentment in a life. And one you can focus on other aspects of, um, but, but the pandemic, uh, I was, I out my back for almost seven years, um, and I kind look back at that time and wonder, wow, how did I do that? But, um, I think what really helps was, um, having this research process before I decided where I was going next and what I was gonna do there. Uh, so my goal was never to, you know, go to a destination and, you know, pick off a whole bunch of spaces to see, uh, but to find, you know, maybe a community that I can live or place that very close to nature where spend, you know, a couple of months because I was always working on the goal and at the same time trying to experience a place. 

Shivya: Um, and so my research process was involved, uh, looking for, uh, kinda what mentioned, you know, women run enterprise or social enterprises, uh, somewhere where I could, you know, also contribute back in some way, whether that was through storytelling or, um, you know, having a skills or, uh, something of that sort, if life skills were relevant to the work that they were doing. Um, and then I also try to connect with, uh, with local people as such as possible. So in that sense, social media has been a great tool, uh, looking at Twitter, Instagram, and kind of finding, you know, people based on common interest. So, uh, you know, people are maybe also write or, uh, come practice a lifetime, people who are also vegan. Um, so looking at, looking at people like that kind of allows you to break the ice right away because, you know, when you have a common interest or a passion that connect you, then it's easier to kind of get past the initial <inaudible> or whatever, um, and really also be, uh, on the same bandwidth. So, uh, so when I met with people, they would always, you know, recommend or connect me to someone else who, uh, who could be, you know, someone that I could, uh, connect with or who maybe run an enterprise Zoom or something else. Um, and so it always, you know, looking connections. So I always, I can look for these in connections, um, and keep it into using Google work. Um, and I think that's what I've always found, uh, most of my inspiration and also most of my story. 

Christine: Yeah. And you also mentioned, uh, that you are, that you live a vegan lifestyle, and that's something I think, uh, is also something that maybe holds people back from traveling because they're unsure of how they can, you know, find what they need when they're traveling, especially in certain countries that maybe aren't known for having cuisine that's vegan. What has that, what was that like for you traveling, and how were you able to kind of prepare for that or, you know, create opportunities? I, I think that it's just something maybe that either some people haven't thought about at all, or some people have chosen not to travel because, because of that. And so I was just really curious about that part of your journey. 

Shivya: Uh, so I think it was around 2015 that I decided to turn, uh, cause I suddenly had this, um, I mean probably ways, you know, this method that I think was hiding me. But, uh, you know, just learning about what happens, um, in, in the animal farming industry, um, and not just the industry, but also when we say free range, uh, I know that there are certain communities that, uh, have no choice but to depend on animal farming. But for the rest of us who are a lot more privileged, uh, I feel like many us can make, uh, choices, which I, you know, more compaction. Um, and so in 2015 when I decided to turn vegan, I felt like maybe I have to keep between vegan and, uh, you know, remaining a difficult moment at some point because, uh, if I don't have access to a kitchen, it means I'm always relying on other people to feed. 

Shivya: Uh, and even when I do have access to a, if I'm in a place that's, you know, sitting far away from, uh, from a fancy supermarket or something like that, it's gonna be really hard to, you know, get adequate nutrition and, you know, feel satisfied with what I'm eating. Um, but I think my journey has been, uh, it's been, uh, really revolutionary, uh, in the sense that, uh, I've learned about, uh, I've learned so much more about ancient cultures around the world, uh, by virtue being vegan. So, for example, uh, when I was in Ethiopia, I was surprised to learn that, uh, for about 200 days of New York vegan and that Orthodox. Um, and so the cuisine, uh, you know, happens to be very vegan, the world. Um, in Japan, I learned that before we educated, um, I'm sorry, during the educated, or was it before? 

Shivya: I can't, I can't remember, but, uh, in Japan, I learned that there was a time when people mostly lived lifestyle, and it was only much later that, uh, you know, um, Ji uh, the emperor, he, oh yeah, Soji the emperor. He, um, he kinda felt like, you know, there were people around the world who were like, you know, and it was because they ate meat. Uh, and so he was the first to eat meat, and that's how consumption began in Japan. Uh, and I found that out because I was there on assignment and, uh, uh, the dinner that we were served on my second day there, uh, I was a bit dissatisfied with it, and I was like, you know, after a long way out, I need to eat something, you know, more satisfying and, you know, more nutrition. Um, and so there's an app called Happy Cow, which is, uh, it's kind vegetarian. 

Shivya: And luckily on the app it showed that two kilometers away there was a traditional Japanese, like a small, uh, bar with, uh, that had. And so I decided to make the really well. Um, and when, when I got there, I realized that the owner was this elderly Japanese woman, and she had transla, uh, everything that she could do vegan, um, in, in, like, she had card, uh, and she had everything that she could make. Um, so I had a great, and then I asked her, you know, why, why, um, and then she told me about like, the history of Japan and the food culture and how she kinda wants to see that for people who practice. Um, and that's something that I would've never known about Japanese, something that vegetarian. Um, and so in the key ways I've learned, uh, so much about ancient culture and traditional practices around the world, um, and the Habitat app has been very helpful, and we don't see me to say this at all, but, uh, it's really been a lifesaver in, in many parts of the world. 

Christine: Yeah, I love that, that it just created another avenue for connection and cultural understanding and learning about destinations. Um, yeah, it's like what asking questions is how we learn, but I, again, I think sometimes we, when it's something really personal to ourselves, we maybe don't realize we're opening another door for discovery through that process. Um, so I, I think that's great. And also, as soon as you mentioned the Happy Cow app, which also I'm not paid to talk about, but I have heard so many people, um, share it, and it is a really great resource though for people listening. I would definitely, um, look into that if that is something that you need to support you in your travels, because I've heard, so I've been sitting with people actually, and they pull that app up and they're like, oh, here's a place that we can go. 

Christine: Um, so I think that's a really valuable, uh, resource to help kind of break down that barrier that some people may have. Um, let's see. One of the the other things that I wanted to talk to you about as well is, um, is really like finding your voice and how you create content, um, that is value-driven content and not necessarily just following trends. So when, when you're working in content creation, obviously there are things that you have to, I guess you don't ever have to do anything, but there's things that you might find yourself drawn to writing about because it is a trend or it is something that, uh, editors want, et cetera. But then if we really want to be creating a positive impact with our writing and our content, how do you balance that line? And how did, how did you really find your voice and ability to be able to do that? 

Shivya: Uh, I think that's a great question, and I don't, I dunno if I have an answer for it, but, uh, I spent the last month or so working on the travel storytelling course that I'm been, and one of the things I wanted to talk about is finding your voice, but think it's something so intangible that it's, it's really hard to put it in words. Um, and so I, I have been thinking about my own voice and how it, how it developed, um, and I feel like it's something, um, it's definitely value driven, but it's also something that is very personal to you and the only way to do it and to, to kinda use it every day, um, and then just go back to see how it's been evolving. Uh, at least that's been my thought process. Um, but I think with respect trends, um, it can be pretty challenging because, uh, you know, I mean, just with something like Instagram and how quickly change from the, like this visual meeting, uh, sorry, photography meeting to, uh, really do all our videos. 

Shivya: Um, and I think I, for the longest time, because, uh, I really didn't wanna do video content, uh, but then I felt like, you know, I've spent so much time in building this audience and this community, um, and so either I play, you know, somewhat by the means of the platform or I just, you know, get outta there because otherwise I'm just like half, half in and half out, which doesn't help anyone. Um, and so I thought, I, I'm gonna give videos a try, but there's no way that I'm gonna sacrifice what I'm, I wanna talk about. Um, and so it was, it was a good process to think about, you know, how some of the stories that I would like to tell, uh, how can I do that in video form? And so a lot of the travel content that I saw on Instagram, which is about, you know, these three, uh, videos from different destinations, uh, with no context and, you know, no story to it. 

Shivya: Um, and of course it's an, uh, it's a original tree, but that's about it. You don't think about how travel impacts you or how impacts places or how have changed over the years. Um, and so I wanted to challenge that. Um, and so I started using this, uh, combination of video and text and, uh, kinda trying to tell really bite side stories, but doing it to, uh, the Instagram format free, uh, and then using the captions to, uh, talk about those stories for narrative form. And I think that process made me realize two things. Uh, the first was that, you know, if we have story, uh, we shouldn't let the medium stop up. So, you know, maybe 10 years from now there's gonna be an entirely different platform that we can imagine right now. But as long as we have the story within us and we have the, uh, I think we we'll find ways to adapt our voice to that, to those platforms. Um, and then the second is, uh, you know, there's such a wide, um, range of leaders out there, reader and followers and audiences out there, uh, that every new, uh, medium is an avenue to reach, uh, a different and a larger group of people. Uh, and I think it's can create greater outreach for our stories that inspiration enough to experiment those. So I try to stay positive about how, you know, things are gonna evolve over time, uh, and really just tap into ourselves, uh, as story and see how we can adapt our voices. 

Christine: Yeah, I think that's so valuable. I, for me personally, I have had so much resistance to that transition. Like, it was hard enough for me to get myself on Instagram in the first place and then, because I think love the full depth of a story, I had a hard time just thinking about, you know, people reading two lines of something or, or listening to 30 seconds of something. Like I, I just, for me, it's very hard. Like, what, what can I share of value in that capacity? Like, that has been a hard thing. And then when I finally got on Instagram, I was like, great, I'll, I'll do the picture, but I'm gonna have, my caption's gonna be long. I'm just gonna be one of those people. And that's okay cuz I, that feels aligned to me. But then, um, I have found over the last year or so that I have fallen more off of it because I haven't found my voice in video content. 

Christine: And like, if I do it, then what ends up happening is me, like just saying the thing I would've written, which is kind of, is not what it was created for, you know, it's again, it's, you know, trying to figure out how to use it. And like you said, if you're gonna be there, you do need to figure out how to use it or else your voice is lost. And if you're trying to create impact with your storytelling, you need to find a way to, to put your voice in front of the people that need to hear from you and learn from you. So I think it's such a, just like this endless spiral, trying to figure it out and how to be authentic and how to do it in a way that actually gets you heard. And, and there's, like you said, there's just so many, it, it's constantly changing in a way that I think we also haven't navigated as storytellers before because for so long, you know, we had print media and like, things changed slightly, but it wasn't such a dramatic change. 

Christine: And then, you know, social media happened and early in social media, like what you were talking about in Singapore, like you could see, oh, this is a way to reach so many people, but it was still a little bit simpler, I guess. And now it just seems like it, it evolves every day <laugh> and you have to figure out the new thing. So not only are you trying to figure out your voice and your authentic way of storytelling and how you wanna connect and the impact you wanna create, but you have to figure out the tool to do it upon. Um, and I just think it will be really interesting to see how this evolves as a medium and four storytellers and the ways that we can use this going into the future. <laugh>. 

Shivya: Yeah, I think it's just, cause maybe we were so embedded into, you know, like the blog and the, um, like the early social media that with PhD hard, but I'm sure someone who's worked in print all their lives or like, or train years also said that transition to be really hard to work social media. Um, and for a lot of people they just, it, it just wasn't possible to make that transition. Uh, but yeah, I, I know what you're saying and every time there's a new, uh, you know, social media platform, oh, I hope it doesn't take off. Cause I really don't see myself going somewhere else now. So Yeah. The thing is mutual. 

Christine: Yeah. Um, well thank you so much for all that you have shared. I wanted to just give you the space, if there is anything else that you wanted to bring in the conversation to make sure we didn't miss any of the projects that you're working on or anything that you wanted to share with the solo travel community. 

Shivya: Uh, I think we've pretty much covered everything, but I just wanted to wanna wish you the, the very best for your upcoming trip. Uh, I think it's gonna be really exciting and, um, I'm, I'm getting to about the destination you and the kind of experiences you choose to have this, and maybe there's also a book in there. Um, I I hope that is be really amazing to read that and also get your stories out in a more, um, I wouldn't say traditional way, but in a more, uh, you know, long form and a way that feels more ful. So I really look forward to that. 

Christine: Thank you. Yeah, I have been speaking a pre-planning, even pre-planning for that, that I, I'm gonna create kind of like a, a worksheet I guess for my daughters that they can fill out for each of the places as it just a way for them to think about where they've been and like write their favorite experience or the thing that they learned or maybe the thing that they were most uncomfortable about a certain destination or a person that they met that really, you know, whose story they loved, just to kind of get them thinking about how they're engaging in a little bit of storytelling as well, um, just because it's so important to me. But I, I was thinking, trying to think of ways to get them involved in that process as well as I think, um, you know, most of us are not so lucky to have this type of experience and I think it'll be really valuable and to help them process it a little bit as well, which I'm sure, you know, you've seen from your journeys that that writing is often a way that we can process all these things that we've experienced. 

Christine: So I think that is really valuable. Um, well, before we end, um, Shivya, I just have a few rapid fire questions. This is for our audience to be able to get to know a little bit more about you as a traveler and maybe inspire, um, some of their journeys. Uh, the first question is, what are you reading right now? 

Shivya: Um, I'm reading multiple books actually. Uh, so one is the, um, and the other book is called, um, I Last Egypt. And this is a book that's written by an Egyptian woman, uh, of who kinda let her into their lives and really, really good story. Um, so it's, it's a fabulous book and if you, anyone who's listen this, if you can find a copy, I highly, highly recommend 

Christine: It. Excellent. Oh, that sounds really amazing. I had an opportunity many, many years ago to perhaps travel to stay with a, a bean community in Egypt and I wasn't able to make it work and I'm very sad about it cuz I think it would've been, um, a really powerful experience, but perhaps it will come my way again, <laugh>. 

Shivya: Uh, I hope it does. 

Christine: Yeah, thank you. What is always in your suitcase or backpack when you travel? 

Shivya: I guess I'll just have a diary, uh, just to write down random thoughts and things that don't make it anywhere else, 

Christine: Uh, to sojourn is to travel somewhere as if you live there. I know you're an expert in that <laugh>. Uh, what is one place that you haven't been that you would love to sojourn? 

Shivya: Uh, I don't know if it's possible to be an expert in that <laugh>, but, um, I would, I would love to spend more time in South America. Um, and I've already been to Chile, but I would love to go back and spend more time. 

Christine: Uh, what do you eat that immediately connects you to a place that you've been? 

Shivya: That really depends on where I am. Um, but I would, I love to have a smoothie in the morning, so anything that's, uh, fresh in doing that is, uh, gonna be my for sure. 

Christine: Uh, who was a person that inspired or encouraged you to set out and explore the world? 

Shivya: I think there'd been many, sorry. I know, but I'm, I'm like going into <inaudible>. But, um, I think there been so many people who, uh, inside this journey, uh, both people that I've met online and maybe never met life, uh, but also people around the world, especially women, so whether they're fellow solar travelers or, um, they're women from the area and who are fighting, you know, cultural, uh, traditions and stereotypes in their own and really showing up every day in, uh, in whatever they have to do, uh, I think that really drives me and makes me aware. <inaudible>. 

Christine: Yeah. Thank you. And no apologies, I usually call this my rapid fire ish because as you also know, it's just gonna become conversation, so it's okay. <laugh>. Um, if you could take an adventure with one person, fictional or real alive or past, who would it be? 

Shivya: That's a tough one. Um, okay. I will get back to you with the name.

Shivya: But, uh, um, oh yeah, I think her name is Ursula, uh, something and Ursula something was Portuguese traveler who, um, who spent a long time, uh, back I think in the, in the 16th or the 17th century, um, back when, you know, were allowed to travel out of their homes without a man. She kinda dress up in a man's clothes with short hair and, uh, everything. And she traveled the world for a while, uh, just because she wanted to, and it'll live right now that, uh, she was, she was finally identified as a woman and she, but, uh, luckily one of the soldiers fell in love with her and she rescue him by a man. But, uh, she did live the life that she wanted for a few years and hopefully later as well. 

Christine: Um, I think I love the early female explorers and adventurers and all the things that they had to go through to live that life and to travel and, uh, I have often thought it would be fun to take, uh, to have travel experiences mapped after some of their experiences to just try to imagine what that would've been like to travel so long ago as a woman. I mean, there's enough things that we run up against in this modern world to even imagine what it would have been like then. So thank you for sharing that. Uh, the last one, uh, Sola Travel is really for honoring, uh, women in the travel industry. Who is one woman you would, uh, admire and would love to recognize in this space? 

Shivya: Um, I think there have many women, but, uh, really I would love to, I would love for more re recognition to, uh, come towards women from, uh, from rural community who, uh, who fight some and types to be part of the industry. The, um, maybe the handful of female guides that have been lucky enough to hype it, uh, in the most parts of India in, uh, south America, other parts of the world, but really this, a handful that I can count on my, uh, finger virtually for, um, I think recognition for all the women who fighting really hard, uh, which to be part of this industry. 

Christine: Yeah. Thank you for bringing that into the conversation. That's always for me. Some people that I love to connect with as well, when you know that just for them to be in the position they're in has been quite a journey for them and, and I really wanna be able to honor and celebrate that as well. So thank you for bringing that into the space. Um, and again, thank you so much for being here. I can't wait to share this conversation and I hope that people, uh, will, will find, find you in all the places that you are and follow you and whatever resonates that they'll be able to connect with you in the right way in the future. 

Shivya: Thank you so much for having me, and I'm glad for this conversation. 

Christine: Thank you.