Photo by Molly Smith

I can’t think of anyone who fits the description “she does it all” more than Hitha Palepu. Hitha and I both started blogging in New York around the same time — about a decade ago before Instagram or the word ‘Influencer’ were a thing. Like me, Hitha had a full-time job and started to pursue blogging as a hobby. I clearly am not the only one who fell in love with her kind spirit and humble yet informative take on life because her blog “Hitha on the Go” became a fast fan favorite. Known for her expert packing and travel tips, Hitha recently took a step back from blogging to focus on her two precious boys and her role as CEO (more on that below), but of course she launched a new project – her 5 Smart Reads weekly newsletter – to stay connected and keep us all in the know. If CEO for a pharmaceutical company, angel investor, author, and Instagrammer weren’t enough, she is also starting not one but two new podcasts in the near future, and somehow manages to make all of this – plus raising two sweet boys – look effortless! I, of course, had to get the scoop on how she does it all plus asked for all of her recs on books, podcasts, children’s gear, travel, and more. She is full of helpful advice and we know you will love learning from her. Read on below and be prepared to take notes!

Photos courtesy of Hitha Palepu
Photo by Molly Smith


You describe yourself as a “multi-hyphenate” on your Instagram bio — which is an understatement! You’re the CEO of a pharmaceutical company, the founder of lifestyle and travel website Hitha on the Go, an author, an angel investor, and the list continues. How would you describe your current job? What does your daily work schedule look like (when you’re not on maternity leave)? 

HP: Every day is different! I have a weekly schedule that I look forward to returning to when I’m back from maternity leave. Mondays are for heavy duty strategic work — updating decks and financial models, researching and reading scientific articles, brainstorming and planning #5SmartReads and future offshoots of it. Tuesdays and Thursdays are my meeting/teleconference days which I usually take from The Wing. I try to catch up with one of my portfolio companies, either live or over the phone. I like to schedule a dinner with a girlfriend on one of these nights. Wednesdays are a catch up day — I spend the morning on work that didn’t get completed on Monday, and I put a placeholder on the afternoons for calls that couldn’t be scheduled on Tuesday or Thursday. Fridays are administrative days where I spend time getting fully caught up on e-mail, bookkeeping, grocery shopping, and planning for the following week. I plan to take Rhaki to a storytime or music class on Friday mornings when I’m back at work full-time.

You started Hitha on the Go in 2009 when the blogging world was just taking off. Coming from a pharmaceutical and technology background, what inspired you to venture out on this creative project? 

HP: Since I was a kid, I’ve always had one foot in a creative endeavor and one foot in a technical one, and my blog is no exception. I started it originally as a hobby that I could do while traveling constantly for work. My first travel-focused post was the one that really made it take off! The blog continued to grow as my career did, and I still don’t know how I managed to juggle both for as long as I did.

It was difficult to press pause on the blog earlier this year. It’s been a huge part of my career and my identity for the past 10 years. But the blogging world has changed, and I couldn’t continue producing blog content at the quality I wanted while running this company and caring for my family. I’m grateful for Instagram and my newsletter to maintain the digital relationships I’ve built in the past decade, and I hope to return to HOTG or take it in a new direction in the near future.

Hitha on the Go grew in popularity for your travel and packing tips, and you wrote a book about how to pack. Can you share your top words of wisdom for new moms traveling with a baby on how to pack efficiently?

HP: Just because you can pack it doesn’t mean you should bring it. If your hotel can provide a crib, there’s no need to bring the Pack n’ Play with you. Your car rental agency has car seats? Reserve them. Kids are often more adaptable than we give them credit for, and they’ll be fine using a rental item instead of their own. 

Buy as much as you can at your destination! It’s a common tip, and for good reason. Having diapers/wipes/sunscreen delivered to your destination frees up so much space in your luggage and allows you to downsize from huge suitcases to compact carry-ons so that you can travel lighter – literally and figuratively. 

What are your carry-on must-haves for traveling with kids?

HP: Extra outfits for me AND the kids. Emesis bags (medical-grade vomit bags) because Rho gets motion sickness and I’d rather be safe than sorry. A baggie filled with small animal toys and a white board with a few colors — we like to draw different habitats on the board and play with the animals on top of it. Melissa & Doug Water Wow coloring books are always a must. We never travel without kids’ headphones and an iPad with a few movies and apps downloaded on it. The Go Happy Kids Travel Tray is also one of my must-packs — it has a removable grippy mat and snaps onto the airplane tray table which is great for in-flight activities and snacks. 

For gear, I swear by our Doona car seat/stroller for the infant stage, and the BabyZen Yoyo and the Cosco Scerena convertible car seat for the toddler phase. We just got the WAYB car seat for Rho which is great for older kids who want to face forward. Rho’s main luggage is a Lo & Sons Catalina weekender bag that easily slips on our suitcase’s handle and can be stuffed in the space in front of his seat, which allowed us to travel in carry-ons to London and Disney World. 

Out of all of your work accomplishments, which one has brought you the most joy or sense of purpose?

HP: It’s hard to pick just one! Publishing my book is definitely one, and raising capital for our current company is the other. Both are also tied to big motherhood moments. I got my book deal right after Rho was born, and closed a round of funding right before Rhaki was born, which makes those accomplishments even more sweet.

You wrote a sweet article about how your father became your mentor and best friend. You followed in his footsteps through your pharmaceutical career path. Tell us a little about how he has impacted your career and how your relationship has evolved over the years.

HP: Looking back, it seemed inevitable that I would end up working with my father! When I was a child, I’d ask him about his job and he always took the time to explain what he was working on. 

HP: My father has always been a loving parent, but he also has been my mentor from high school onwards, and a friend since I graduated from college. In 2009, his new company was growing rapidly and a few years later I jumped at the chance to work with him. He’s as great of a boss and colleague as he is my father and friend, and he’s a spectacular grandfather. You never know how much time you’ll have with your parents, and I’m beyond blessed to get to spend so much time with him. 

You recently launched your 5 Smart Reads weekday mornings series that we love and that has become quite popular. What was the inspiration behind starting this series? Do you have any long-term goals for it? 

HP: I’ve always been a news reader, and noticed that the articles I read in full or shared were articles that seemed underreported or weren’t get significant attention. I began sharing them casually on my Instagram Stories, and always received so many responses. On a particularly rich news day, I shared 5 articles in succession and dubbed them my 5 Smart Reads, and that was it. I’ve been posting them every weekday for the past 7 months (save for a 2 week maternity leave), and sending out the weekly newsletter for the past 5 months. It’s been a wonderful way to still engage with the community I built from blogging, even after stepping away from regular blog posts. I’m working on a podcast that will be an extension of this content, and will see where it goes from there!

You’ve been on maternity leave after the birth of your second son Rhaki. What are the best and hardest parts about being on maternity leave? How are you able to delegate all of your CEO / founder responsibilities? 

HP: I’m very lucky to have an amazing team at work, which makes maternity leave much easier to take. I do check my work e-mail every day and take some calls and the occasional meeting, and have zero regrets about it. I’ll be working about 30% of the time in July, 50% in August, and will be ramped back up to 100% in September, but will likely limit my outside meeting days to Tuesday OR Thursday so that I can be home and sneak in moments with the boys during the day. 

Do you have any goals or new projects for when you return from maternity leave? (Is there even anything left for you to do?? 🙂 )

HP: I have two podcasts in the works – a solo one and one with my friend Abra. Both will hopefully launch this year!


Congratulations on your sweet new baby boy! Now that you have two boys, has your mindset on work, work/life balance, career goals, shifted? 

HP: Thank you! There’s a saying that ‘power doesn’t change you, it reveals who you are.’ I think the same can be said of motherhood. Becoming a mother unveiled a version of me that was stronger, more focused, and more openly vulnerable. Giving birth to Rhaki only intensified these qualities, as well as reaffirmed my commitment to work. 

I love my boys, and I love the many jobs that make up my career. My mindset and my energy is now directed towards serving both of these areas the best I can. I took a break from maternity leave for a day trip to pitch our company, and I felt great about it. I also felt great the following day letting Rhaki nap on me all morning and taking Rho out for ice cream that afternoon. 

Do you have any advice for new moms on how to find time for yourself and maintain a sense of self while also nurturing and raising children? 

HP: The first 6 weeks with a new baby are brutal. You will be sleep deprived, your body will go through a massive change again, and your other kids will need you even more. The house can be a mess, your hair can be in a permanent bun, and it’s fine to change from pajamas into pajamas (with a pair of leggings and a t-shirt when you have to run out). Give yourself grace to let the non-essential things fall by the wayside while you focus on your recovery and your family. Those 6 weeks will feel like they’re never going to end when you’re in the thick of it, but it’ll seem like a second when you look back on it. 

Try to have one ritual that’s just for you during this time – an upgraded skincare routine, meditation or prayer, reading – and do it every single day. It’ll help connect the woman you’ve always been to the changed woman that you are.

What life lesson or value do you most hope to teach your sons?

HP: Before I had kids, and until Rho was 2 years old, I used to be so focused on more academic milestones. Now I’m really focused on raising kind, resilient kids. They will learn to read and write in their own time, and we make an effort to model these things ourselves. But teaching them to be kind, to give back, and to keep trying even if they get frustrated is what I’m focused on teaching them. There’s a Gloria Steinem quote that’s on my mind these days: “I’m glad we’ve begun to raise our daughters more like our sons, but it will never work until we raise our sons more like our daughters.” I think it’s really important to let our kids feel their emotions – the good and the bad – and make them feel safe to express themselves. 

What is your favorite way to spend a day off with your family? 

HP: A pancake breakfast and drinking my coffee while it’s still hot, followed by taking Rho to tennis so he can burn off some of his energy and I can get in some reading time. Lunch at our favorite pizza spot, and home for a nap with Rhaki while my husband and Rho hang out. Head to a playground or hang out on our patio in the evening, grill something for dinner, and get both boys in bed early. End the night with an episode or two of our favorite shows while eating ice cream, and be in bed and fast asleep by 11 pm!

Do you have any book and/or podcast recommendations for working moms? 

HP: Drop The Ball by Tiffany Dufu is a must read. It did wonders for leveling the home workload between my husband and myself. Fair Play is coming out in October and it’s one every mother – whether she has a career outside of the home or is working inside the home – must read and then pass to her partner. All of Laura Vanderkam’s books on time management are excellent, but Off The Clock is probably my favorite.

Ali On The Run is one of my favorite podcasts, and I never miss a Motherhood Monday episode. The Motherly Podcast is excellent, and everyone needs some Oprah in their lives.

You’re an avid reader — what are your three top favorite books of all time? 

HP: The Awakening by Kate Chopin, A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza, and A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth.

Three things you never leave home without:

HP: In addition to the obligatory phone/keys/wallet, I never leave home without my AirPods, hand sanitizer, and a book or my Kindle.

Guilty Pleasures: 

HP: Cookie dough ice cream, my evening glass of red wine, going over my monthly book budget (which happens nearly every month), watching Real Housewives tucked inside my infrared sauna blanket with a face mask on, and the twice-yearly weekend getaways to Glenmere Mansion with my husband.