Free Press Journal

Travelling solo: The new unapologetic woman traveller


Travelling in a group is fun, but Poorva Tamhane explains why travelling solo doubles the sense of excitement and adventure as women experience life uninhibited

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu, Chinese Philosopher

Whether you’ve been day dreaming about that vacation to Bali, trekking up to Machu Picchu or visiting the ancient castles in Ireland, travelling solo could perhaps be the answer to your anxiety-ridden day or could even be the soul searching experience you’ve always wanted. Sightseeing without having the luxury of family and friends around would open you up to the possibility of conversations with strangers and perhaps even forming newer friendships.

“Women of today are empowered, adventurous and more comfortable in stepping out of the comfort zone. The trend of travelling solo is setting up among them, especially in urban India. Travelling solo is widely perceived as empowering, enjoyable and wonderful experience,” says Neelam Naik from Cox & Kings.

While some women often travel solo to meet their professional commitments there is an increasing segment of women that make a conscious decision to travel at leisure. There are a host of different options out there for the woman who wants to explore the world on her own terms. This Woman’s Day is a good time to begin.

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Various tour operators nowadays offer a variety of options for women who wish to travel solo. Kesari Tours for instance offers a specialty experience ‘My Fair Lady’ for women travellers. They also provide the added option to married women of bringing their kids along. SOTC has many customised tours for women traveller, so does Veena World. These tours help women plan out and prioritise the places they want to visit and the ones they’d rather skip. Kesari claims that almost 80% of the travellers today are women.

More and more women today right in their 20s to 60 and above are stepping out to experience newer cultures, lifestyles and to broaden their horizon. Shruti Datar, 25, Co-founder of Pivot Dance Community says, “I had heard a lot of scary stories about travelling alone and there was always a safety concern but it turned out to be a fun experience and helped me look outward to the world rather than sticking to a smaller group. I had experiences that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.” She travelled to Europe for the first time when she was 23, and learned the ropes of becoming a freelance dance instructor.

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“Solo women travellers prefer safe and tourist friendly destinations. Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Europe are the most favourite. They also adore exotic destinations such as Egypt, Bali, Cambodia, Greece and China,” informs Naik. Over the years the changing expectations of women travellers have resulted in initiatives such as the Wow Club which for the past 11 years has been operating exclusively for women.

Supriya Pote, 26, fashion consultant, says, “The thrill of doing things on my own was enough to motivate me to take the leap into travelling on my own.” She travelled to Switzerland at 21, and was confronted with the issue of language barrier. “When I landed in Zurich both my phones were dead and wouldn’t work. I didn’t even know the local language. I panicked but eventually landed up at a coffee shop and after trying in vain to charge my phone managed to buy new SIM cards and with the help of an employee there got my phone started. That built up my confidence and reassured me that I could solve my problems on my own and handle myself during my trip.”

My leisure destination
Neetu Brahma, 30, chartered accountant says, “Cost cutting and prioritising during a trip are the things I learned. My first solo trip was to London and the thought of my friend not turning up at the airport was petrifying but meeting an older lady at Immigration who handled herself well despite not even knowing English helped me calm my nerves. The trip helped me embrace being on my own.” Parents begin to trust you even more after a solo trip says Pote, adding, “Going on your first solo trip only sets you up to making a better wish list to go to other destinations in the future.”

Increasing number of married women also choose to travel solo these days. “My husband often travels abroad for work and my son has also just begun his career; to me that was the right time to plan a trip for myself, enjoy my own company and discover a new place,” says Subela Pattnaik, 50 and a homemaker who travelled solo to Singapore and Thailand recently.