Why more solo Indian women travelers need to travel in India

After all the posts and stories I had read on Social media about more and more women travelling alone these days, I was not really prepared for the reactions that I got. One of the most surprising comments came from a guest house owner in a tiny town of Maharashtra. In his words, “It’s okay for foreigner females travelling alone in India. We have all seen that. But now when I am seeing an Indian doing it, it’s strange. You are brave.” He had a genuine smile on his face and even innocence in his thought but it was disturbing for me.

I had not gone on a trip alone until 2 months back and now I can’t imagine not doing it again. I am all for it and there are absolutely safe ways to do it – not full proof of course – even a group holiday in Europe doesn’t come with a guarantee card. I have taken 3 trips in last two months, to Uttarakhand, Kerala, Maharashtra and Goa, for a total of 35 days. Each conversation I had, from the Airbnb host to fellow travelers, started with one common question, “Are you travelling alone?” and their faces suddenly started to look like a big question mark, even though the answer was a simple Yes.

It’s like when someone talks to me about ‘Arranged Marriage’ or ‘Fashion trends’. The concepts will always remain alien to me.

They just couldn’t understand the ‘yes’ and were probably expecting me to say things like – ‘No, my husband is around’ or ‘No, I am waiting for a bunch of friends’ or may be ‘Yes, because you know what, I am a lunatic!’. This is when I am only talking about the strangers. The people I called friends, reacted bizarrely – more on that later.

Then, there were those who looked happy, even thrilled by the idea but they still had that weird expression asking “Why would you do that?” or “How does that even work?” Some people asked me these questions out loud and I was more than ready to answer. In fact by the end of a small talk, this guy in Varkala was actually pleased and told me he’s meeting a solo traveler for the 1st time as if it was an achievement in itself. A lot of people wished me luck but it was something new for everyone nonetheless.

I had thought that by now, at least a large set of people would be really comfortable with the idea of Indian women exploring their own country by themselves as much as they were comfortable about Indian women starving for their husbands’ long life, but clearly, I was wrong.

People need to know it’s completely okay to wander around, on our own. Just like we need to stop throwing garbage out of a car window, stop training children for a job instead of skills, stop producing kids at a speed of light and rather adopt the ones lying abandoned, we really need to start travelling alone – both men and women actually. I know things are better than they were 8 years ago and it may not be ideal in the next 15, but just like several other developments our country needs, this could be a big one, if only we want.

P.S. I don’t mean to encourage solo travel, just for the sake of it. But, if you’re already doing it elsewhere, why not in your own country. Give it a chance and it will give you many.

Have you ever traveled Solo? Why/Why not? Let me know in the comments.

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© 2015 – 2016, Swati. All rights reserved.

14 comments

  1. It IS perfectly normal and very much needed that more and more women travel solo!! The Indian woman. Cheers to you for already doing it!

    Here’s wishing you many more solo & wonderful experiences!

  2. Very inspiring Swati! Women like you are changing the way Indians perceive traveling; it’s not just about luxury resorts and fixed itineraries any longer. Love your clear and concise way of writing. Keep it up! x

  3. Another great post. Hopefully the coming months would be my time of travelling solo. Which pace in India would you suggest me to get started? I plan to start with Kasol – just waiting for this July…

  4. It was an interesting read. I really like your blog! I can relate with many things you have written, people do think its strange for Indian girls to travel solo. I recently went on my first solo trip to Udaipur. My parents were hesitant at first but they finally agreed. There were instances during the trip when i felt unsafe, only to realise later that it was just my perception. This trip taught me taught me so much. Looking forward to more such trips!
    Glad that I stumbled upon your blog. Will take inspiration from it! Keep exploring 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading. There are a lot of levels and ways in which we need to change mindsets in India. Solo travel is just one way to do it. I’m off to Udaipur soon. Any tips? This would be my 2nd visit. So, I have explored city palace and other common areas 🙂

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