To Thailand, in your car and bike

Medha Joseph and Sujal Patwardhan share the exhilarating feeling of a road trip

Medha Joseph and Sujal Patwardhan are on a mission to change the travel plans of women going on a holiday. “Most women prefer to travel by train or flight but we want them to experience a road trip,” they state, and enthuse that those who experience a road trip do not wish to travel in any other mode. This confidence comes from their dream trip from India to Morocco in 57 days; it changed their lives so much that they quit their cushy corporate careers to establish a travel company — Embarq Motorworld. “Everyone thought that I was mad to quit a high-paying job and my father asked me ‘ Toh tum log tour manager banoge ,” recalls Sujal. Presently the excitement levels are high as the countdown begins for their next trip, an All India Women’s Drive (car and motorcycle) from India to Thailand .


The first-of-its-kind women’s only road trip begins from Guwahati and goes on till Bangkok, covering a distance of 2800 km.

Friends since their MBA days, Medha and Sujal share passion for travel and experience new places. While road trips have a charm of its own, Medha admits women participate in domestic rallies but are hesitant to overland abroad. “There is a bit of hesitation and concern around safety. We thought of organising this road trip and see them cross boundaries, literally,” she adds. Drawing from her own experience, Sujal observes road trips change lives. “People love to explore the world in their own cars and bikes. Indians are hesitant to drive outside India as they do not know the language and are doubtful about navigation. It is no rocket science; when apprehensions are taken care of, the trip becomes a life-changing experience,” she promises.

Safety concerns

While there has been a definite rise among women shrugging traditional holidays and either taking a solo trip or travelling with friends, safety issues remain a concern. One has to deal with this anxiety and take confident steps, notes Sujal. “One can either sit at home and be worried or just go,” she states, citing an example of Peru where the two went on a recce before announcing the trip. “We were told it is unsafe; Medha and I were there for a month and drove its length and breadth. People were wonderful and we had a lovely experience. We didn’t feel unsafe at any point of time.”

Medha narrates an experience of driving through remote locations in Central Asia where language was a big problem. “It was difficult to even figure out what one is being served in a café. So we used to make animal sounds like ‘Mooo’ was beef and ‘Maaiinnn’ was sheep,” she recalls with a smile.

Sujal shares, “People living in Central Asia are crazy about Indians; They will stop the car and want to take pictures with you and exchange music. All the taxis in Uzbekistan have Bollywood music.” Medha calls these journeys ‘absolutely crazy!’ “The kind of places one drives through are not those one gets to witness on a regular trip. I have seen the women feel liberated and independent. We dance on the roads with the locals and enjoy street food. A road trip connects you with Nature and shows you a completely different view of life.”

Sujal observes that crossing a country in a car and bike is exhilarating. “The sense of freedom is really up there along with the confidence. This area has been predominantly male-dominated so we call this trip ‘women crossing boundaries more mentally than physically.”

Changing perception

While the concept of road trips is catching up in India, the duo promises to explore more routes. “The perception is changing; ,ore and more people want to find out or at least put this idea in their bucket list. Earlier they would shrug it off saying it is not my type. Now they say at least in the next couple of years, I want to do one road trip.”

For spirited women travellers

The All India Women’s Drivefrom India to Thailand (car and motorcycle) will be held in October. Embarq takes care of visas, car and individual permits, car custom paperwork, border crossing entrance fee, vehicle insurance, toll road fee, carnet for the vehicle, stay and food. Embarq team will have the lead and back-up vehicles.

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