Inspiring people to take that big step to chase their dreams, she pulled the plug on her 9-5 job as a cybersecurity engineer in Bangalore and took a break for 1.5 years to explore the world and most importantly, herself. No wonder she won 3 awards in the Holidify Explorer Awards 2018! She won the Top Woman Travel Influencer, Top Upcoming Travel Influencer AND the Travel Influencer With The Best Original Photos category.
So we spoke to Miss. 'LifeOutsideCubicle' and got a fresh perspective on how it really is to be a new travel influencer in the industry.
What was the turning point where you decided to become a travel influencer?In India there are lot of misconceptions associated with a woman traveling solo, with backpackers (often confused with penniless travelers), with traveling itself (like its expensive, it needs too much of planning, and so on). More I knew about such things, more I was inspired to do something about it. And one day I decided I will share my views on social media. If I can even influence 1 person with my 1 post, then my efforts will be worth it.
Any weird experience you had while travelling solo? How did you handle the situation?
Well plenty. It was a cold January evening and I was wandering across the lanes of Pushkar. There were few local men and foreigners sitting on stools and had lit up a bonfire infront of a shop. A local man stopped me and asked "Madam do you want to try smoking?". I said "No". He said "It's FREE". I said firmly "No. I don't Smoke" & I walked . After a while, he came behind me and said in Hindi " Don't joke madam, you are traveling alone and you say you don't smoke, anyway if you want hard drugs, I can arrange that too". I sensed that he was high, there were not much people around and I could not have reasoned with him. I politely said, right now I am going to hostel, will check with my friends and contact him if we need something. Then asked him to give his number, which he did. Sometimes its better to be polite than to react.
What is your favourite place in the world and what makes it so special?
My favorite destination is - Faroe Islands. Its special because my passion for traveling was ignited when I saw the video of magical Faroe Islands shared by my friend on facebook. It is still on top of my bucket list and I am yet to save enough money to visit Europe and Faroe Islands.
Where in the world would you like to retire, and why pick that country?
I want to go all around the globe. Spend years in different countries. However when I retire, I want to be in India. I have my roots here, and do not want to give that up ever.
What is the toughest challenge about traveling a lot through the month? Do you miss the stability of staying in one place at any point?
Toughest challenge is to miss your near ones - family and friends. Yes at times it becomes challenging not to stay in one place, but it also gives an opportunity to create a temporary home in a place unknown and surrounded by people from different cultures and beliefs who at times become part of the extended family. Its tough, but its equally cherishable.
Are most of your travels paid advertisements or do you take trips independently? How do you sustain your traveling lifestyle?
So far all my travels have been independent. I worked for 8+ years as a Cyber Security Engineer, saved little every year for my travel fund, and then quit my job in Oct 2018 to travel around the world. It was a consicous choice to let go of monthly salary, sustain on my savings, and to prioritize my passions. So far I am managing my lifestyle on my savings fund. However in coming months I need to find a job which allows me to earn and travel.
Are you a full-time travel influencer? How do you manage to work on your travels? Do you generally have a schedule for your business related needs?
I am a travel influencer, but its not my full-time job yet. However I have a rough schedule set aside for writing blogs, interacting with followers, posting on social media, and other activities sourrounding it.
We know you love solo travel but if you could invite one person to visit your favourite place with you who would it be and why?
Well well, without a second thought I would invite my husband. He is caring, encouraging, and above all he loves traveling. However he is unable to travel much, as he is working and has responsibilities he cannot get away from at this point. The idea of visiting my favorite place in the world with my favorite person in the world is simply perfect.
How competitive is the space for travel influencers and what do you think is important to sustain it as a career?
It is extremely competitive. With paid followers, rich travelers with trendy fashion, and people able to afford cool gadgets while on road; it is not really easy for travelers like me who travel on budget with a backpack. However I believe that If I am true to myself, understand the needs of my followers, and share my experiences honestly I will be able to thrive, just not sustain.
And a last question, what is the best thing that has come out of lifeoutsidecubicle?
The best thing that has come from @lifeoutsidecubicle is "The Life Outside Cubicle" itself. I was a Computer Science graduate with a 9x5 job. My work experiences were extraordinary, but in the process I was becoming ordinary. My passions were dying a slow death - I had given up on chess, art and volunteering have taken back-seat, and was unable to give much time to travel. I was confined to the walls of my office or home and was not growing as an individual, as a human. So I decided to take a career break for 1.5 years, give time to passions, and started my blogging. With @lifeoutsidecubicle, I am able to create life experiences outside these walls - meeting new people, learning new things, teaching children at remote villages, finding homes in distant places, understanding different cultures. Along with family and work, I have realized the importance of giving time to myself and also to my passions.
Now on a lighter note, here are a few little tidbits about Shruthi.