Travelling solo is not easy, especially when you are a woman. Why unnecessarily attract attention? Why put yourself out there with the unfamiliar?
Chandana Rao and Priya Nain are part of a growing breed of solo women travellers happy to step out of their comfort zone. Travel has rewarded them with rich experiences that no other school or college could have taught.
Photographer Ambarish followed them to capture some candid moments from their journey.
Chandana belongs to a village Narayanapura in Kolar. She came to Bengaluru six years ago to pursue her education in animation, and stuck around to working in the city.
"Travel is kind of oxygen for me. I just pick up my bag and go wherever I feel like going. Travel makes me complete."
Chandana has her own small graphic design venture called Heartists. "Since it is my own, I do not need permission to travel anytime I want," she says.
She says she can work from anywhere and always delivers her assignments to clients on time. All she has to do is open her laptop and finish her work before she finds a free wifi to send it.
Her budgets for travel are very low and she keeps her trips as simple as possible.
"I travel in general coach trains. I hitchhike. I do take shared auto-rickshaws. I eat free prasada from temples. I eat tasty street foods. I sleep in railway station waiting rooms and bus stops. I also carry my tent. I use public toilets to freshen up. I have also washed my face with water from ponds and rivers. This is my lifestyle and it is this way that I can cover a lot of places is a low budget."
Chandana says travel has changed her as a person. She says her motto is, "Walk the talk and take life each day as it comes."
Travel has taught her to make friends easily, and she says, she always chats up strangers by asking them where they come from. "This always puts them at ease when they see you are interested in their story."
Chandana loves train travel. She says they are "super cool and cheap as well."
Her tip to solo women travellers: "Stay safe. Always carry a safety kit like a pen knife or pepper spray. Be confident and positive."
Priya Nain is a software engineer on weekdays and a gypsy soul on weekends. She has a great appetite to explore new places for the kind of natural beauty they hold, cultural practices they have preserved, the markets that open and close every day.
"It all started when I took my first solo trip to Munnar, after which I did not return as the same person. I was someone who had never ventured out, let alone into the wild but not even outside Delhi/NCR, and never really challenged myself."
Priya says she had earlier always tried to fit into the crowd and as a result never experienced living on the edge. "Traveling made me experience life much more deeply. My perspectives changed for the better. I wanted my friends and their friends to experience this invigorating feeling."
To share her joy of travel with others, she started Nomadify.in. "We go for hikes, laze around on betel tree farms, stay in tents and sometimes in resorts with morning rays welcoming you to a new day."
Priya does not confine herself to one type to traveling. "I travel solo and with groups. I am open to staying in tents on one trip and experiencing a resort stay in another one. I travel with a plan if I feel like or just figure out things on the fly."
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