Women uninterrupted

September 27, 2016 04:35 pm | Updated November 01, 2016 09:33 pm IST - Bengaluru

Regardless of increasing crimes against women, the community of women travellers continues to grow

Amrita Das

Amrita Das

With our media continuing to be replete with instances of crimes against women, India is growingly earning the image of being unsafe for women. In such times, women travelling themselves is viewed as suicidal discouragingmany enthusiastic women travelers.

But then a lot of them don’t care and there we have a surge in the number of women travelling alone. Thanks to exchange of ideas and experiences on social media, the concept has picked up further.

“Travelling alone allows me to be myself and lets me do my own thing. It permits me to decide how I want to plan (or not plan!) my schedule without being tied down with others,” explains Amrita Das, who undertook her first solo trip to Spiti, Himachal Pradesh in 2014. She quit her full-time job and now blogs as ‘Travelling Ides Of March.

The zeal to discover a place by herself is what drove Renuka Walter to embark on her first solo trip to Udaipur, Rajasthan in 2011. Originally from Uttarakhand, the idea of solo travel became an obsession and led her to start a blog, ‘Voyager for life’. Since then she has undertaken numerous journeys, the most memorable being an ‘indefinite trip’ to Sikkim and Darjeeling for which she booked no return ticket.

Another ardent traveller, Elita Almeida from Mumbai left her job at a non-profit organisation to follow her passion,

She documents her adventures in her blog Have feet will travel’. Her first solo travel experience was to an obscure beach, Trasi-along the Konkan coast in Karnataka. “I knew of Trasi from having driven past it on road trips as a kid. Just that bit of familiarity, helped reduce my anxiety. At the end of the trip, I discovered I had the appetite to be in my own company without driving myself up the wall! This made solo travel more than just a one-time affair.”

Elita is regularly faced with questions like ‘How did your parents allow you?’ or ‘What did you do to convince them?” “I did nothing except provide them with all the details. Frankly, you do a good job of being responsible and reachable. No one panics ever.”

But India’s rather unsavoury reputation, where the safety of women is concerned, serves as a hindrance for the majority of would-be solo travellers. According to Elita, this is just a mindset.

“If I were to believe every headline I read, I wouldn't have been able to say that in my five weeks as a solo female traveller in Bihar, I did not experience being cat-called even once! I have found good samaritans in the guise of bus drivers, train co-passengers and home-stay hosts. That is why I urge everyone around me to live their own experience.”

Amrita emphasises that basic precautions have to be practised everywhere, irrespective of the place. “Avoid lonely places after sundown, carry a pepper spray and don’t leave your food and drinks unattended. One needs to be confident, but not rash.”

Most of these travel-bloggers also freelance as travel writers and are able to thus finance their desire to travel. Amrita, who works with a number of publications, travel websites and blogger collaborations, explains how this allows her to ‘have their cake and eat it too’.

Supriya Sehgal , who travelled solo for the first time in 2012 to Hampi in Karnataka, went from working with companies like Nike and Gap to becoming a travel writer and consultant. “I balance my inflow with some consistent projects and the rest with erratic schedules”.

Their advice to all those consumed by wanderlust and who wish to travel solo?

“Don’t over think too much and start out small. To begin with, watch a movie by yourself or go for a short road trip. Unless you start, the idea appears bigger than it really is.” Supriya recommends.

Renuka urges one to “Research well beforehand, be it the culture, people, the city, transport etc. and make sure all your bookings are in place.”

According to Elita, her, a sense of freedom and independence comes from picking your backpack and heading out the door on your own.

You learn to be responsible and have fun,with the journey as your teacher.

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