'Akeli ladki khuli huyi tijori k tarah hoti hai' - a dialogue in the movie, Jab We Met, which is something I often relate to when I share my plans of traveling alone. As liberating as it is to travel solo, women traveling alone is still considered unsafe by family and friends, discouraging many to do so.
Today, on Women's Day, I'd like to write a little on why we, the tijoris, need to defend ourselves and pack our bags to go on the trip we have lived a hundred times in our head.
To start with, let's jot down 5 reasons to book our tickets today and take that damn trip now.
1. Experience the Freedom
However modern times are, freedom is a rare privilege for most of us. The Indian society is still not warmed up to the idea of women traveling alone, married women traveling without husbands and single women traveling without friends. But, when we travel alone, not only we break the stereotype but we also experience the right kind of freedom. I had met a woman who traveled almost half the year every year. She, having a family and a business, did that only to experience the freedom of living her life her own way. You literally have the freedom to order that last piece of chocolate cake and a cup of coffee in the cafe with a view to die for, without being judged by fellow travelers or disturbed by them. You have to handle your problems, alone. Be it the luggage that you learn to carry alone or the finances that you to manage or the lurking men you have to be strong enough to ask them to Back Off. It's both, the good and bad sides of being free that you experience when you travel alone.
2. Liberate the Emotions
All of us have gone through shit in life. We are all struggling to get that promotion, to keep our marriage or relationship work, to learn that new Chicken recipe and to remain fit and healthy. A friend, who recently went on a solo trek to the Himalayas, shared her experience of going on a Himalayan trek alone. Her trek was an impulsive decision she had taken after her relationship broke off. She wasn't sure at first but the tickets were booked and money was not to be wasted. It was all worth it. When she climbed atop, she sat watching the snow peaks around her and with every breath she let of everything she had held on to for so many years. She had struggled to walk that mountain alone, none from her family, friends or loved ones were with her. Yet, she struggled. And when she reached the peak, her struggle paid off. When she returned, she told me that there was a lot of emotional distress, hurt and pain that she had left behind. She had come back more positive and energetic to start new adventures, but this time she was the only one taking them.
3. For your 'Happiness'
Women have this tendency to mother everyone around them. Even when we travel, we want to make sure everyone is together, happy and having a good time. Have we ever thought of our own happiness? Very rarely. Traveling alone gives us a chance to do what makes us happy, not caring for the boyfriend who doesn't like eating a pizza or the sister who can't stay in hostels. It helps you to do what you often imagined or dreamt of. A mother I know once booked a trek for her son and sister. She had never traveled around but she wanted her son to explore the world she had been reading and watching since a kid herself. Even after booking that trip when her son and sister refused to wake up and go, she got angry at them and decided to go for the trek herself. She was wearing a 'Burkha' and climbing the hill, a 30 something amongst the youngsters. This is how she started and now she goes on international expeditions, often solo.
4. Get to know yourself
BETTER - Do you know that most times we think of us exactly what others perceive us as? We got to stop that. As women, we are often wired to be good in certain things, told that we are meant for some defined roles in the society, and expected to be groomed in a certain way. Have we ever given a thought of do we like cooking even if we are supposed to be good at it? Or, do we even want to be a mother? Or, do we even want longer hair or polished nails? In short, we never have the time to know ourselves better. Traveling solo is exactly the best way to find out. When we spend time with none but ourselves, we get to know of our weaknesses, strengths, likes, dislikes, tolerance limits, adventure streaks, and so on. Somebody I know was scared of water. She did not know how to swim and had never made any attempts of learning how to. For some reason, she decided to enroll herself for a scuba diving trip to Tarkarli with PTC. She thought she'd skip the scuba diving and do the rest of it. Her friends called her crazy to go alone and her family thought she was wasting money on a trip meant for water sports, as they all believed she was too scared to even try doing it alone. On the day of the water sports, something changed and she went for scuba diving. It was ZNMD's influence, she says. But I think it was her will of trying it out without any 'concerned yet negative' interference from her known ones.
5. Meet new people
Inspiration is everywhere and traveling alone gives you the chance to listen to some amazing stories. One of my closest friends went on a solo trip to Kerala last month. All she did was, live in beautiful hostels and interact with the people there. She ended up visiting touristy areas, secluded beaches and hidden gems with people she met and became friends with from all over the world. In fact, during this trip, she gatecrashed a 'Kerala wedding' with one of her hostel friends because they wanted to eat a proper Kerala Thali. Your friends and family are great, but, try meeting people when you are traveling alone. You are sure to make memories like none other.
These are just a few reasons that I can think of at the moment. But traveling solo can open up millions of possibilities, both good and bad. The good ones give us experiences to share with the world and the bad ones teach us how to manage situations all by ourselves. We women are strong, talented, and great with our presence of mind. We are too protected by our concerned family and friends, which is good to a certain extent but it tends to interfere with our growth.
Let's take that one difficult step of moving out of our homes and going on a trip alone, be it a short weekend getaway or a longer backpacking trip.
Let's do ourselves a favor today. It's women's day and we deserve it.