The idea of traveling alone is often met with reluctance and hesitance. And if you add another word and make it 'Women traveling alone', it is almost a no-no. While the idea of men and women traveling alone is not new in the West, in India, it is taken almost with a sense of disbelief. We have always been conditioned to think that being 'alone' is synonymous with being an outcast and, most of us are reluctant to even go watch a movie alone, not to speak of travelling. Safety is another matter entirely, specially for a girl. But the situation is changing and more and more people are heading out for solo trips in what is being hailed as one of the hottest trends in travelling.
Travelling alone no longer carries a stigma. But the rise in solo travellers, specially female solo travellers, is a game changer. It is a trend that is empowering women both internally and externally by helping them broaden their mind and gain varied perspectives while simultaneously making them confident to move forward in a society that is constantly questioning and judging their abilities.
"Women have started exploring the world by themselves, which I would say is a great start, especially for Indian women. Breaking the stereotypical mindset of society, women are taking the road less travelled", says Parnashree Devi, a traveller from Gurgaon who has been doing it for the past eight years. She presses on the need for women to travel. "It’s like living your life on own terms. It gives you that much desired space to celebrate your life. It not only instils courage, but creates an example for those who are still dreaming of taking a step ahead and hold out their dream", she notes.
Jaipur resident Damini Gaur has been travelling alone for the past seven years in various states in India. For her, travelling is "The only thing that lets you grow holistically, makes you headstrong, and is the coolest way to be your own friend". She believes that, "Women must travel alone to realise that they have the power to empower themselves within them".
Travelling alone teaches you how to adapt and think on your feet, take decisions faster, and manage budgets. While many of us directly relate travelling alone with having freedom and not being bound to people, it is a slightly misleading notion. Damini explains. "Freedom is not physical, it is psychological. You need to be free from inhibitions. And that is what travelling alone lets you do. Emotionally we are not independent but practically we grow independent."
There are always risks out there in the world, and while we know that safety is an important issue when it comes to women, and even men for that matter, but letting it take over and prevent you from doing things is foolish. Parnashree says, "I haven’t faced any trouble in travelling as a woman till now. People have started accepting the fact that women can travel alone and it’s safe. But you need to be conscious enough, not just in India but anywhere in the world for that matter". Damini echoes the same thoughts, "I have never faced any major safety issue, but for the few occasions when men had tried to pass off their sick mentality. But you need to be confident enough to not let them intimidate you".
Many women dream of travelling alone, but the most difficult part is to get to the other side of the door and face what lies ahead. But if you plan ahead and are confident in yourself, rest assured that it is going to be the best experience of your life. eom