World Tourism Day: Meet these 5 women who choose to travel solo
Whether it’s going on family trips, making quick getaways with a few friends, we all love to take a break from our routines.
Travelling solo is an experience unlike any other. It opens one’s eyes to a very different way of life, boosts confidence, and teaches valuable life lessons.
On World Tourism Day, meet these five women who are passionate about travelling solo and exploring the world around them without inhibitions.
(L-R) Chandana Rao, Rutavi Mehta, Esha Gupta, Anahita Sriprasad, Priti Vishwakarma
Chandana Rao began travelling solo after quitting a corporate job in Bengaluru. Hailing from Narayanapura, a village in the Kolar district of Karnataka, Chandana first came to the city in 2009, to pursue a diploma in visual arts. She then did an internship, and eventually found her way through jobs. In 2016, she decided to pack her bags and embark on a solo journey through small towns across India. She also has a graphic design startup of her own, Heartists, which remotely employs people from villages and small cities.
In a previous interview with YourStory, Chandana said,
“Travel is kind of like oxygen for me. I just pick up my bag and go wherever I feel like going. Travel makes me complete.”
Chandana travels in general coach trains, hitchhikes, shares auto rickshaws, and enjoys local street food throughout her trips. She also sleeps in railway station waiting rooms and bus stops, carries her tent along, and uses public toilets or water from rivers to freshen up.
Travel has helped Chandana make new friends easily, and she strikes up conversations with strangers around her, investing herself in their stories.
To other women travelling solo, she says, “Stay safe. Always carry a safety kit like a pen knife or pepper spray. Be confident and positive.”
Mumbai-based Priti Vishwakarma went on her first solo trip in 2016. Working as an assistant art director, she had hectic timings and was desperately in need of a break. She asked a few friends to join her on a trip to the hills of Uttarakhand, but they declined out of concern for their safety. She then decided to embark on the journey by herself.
After her trip, Priti shared her experiences on social media, and received mixed responses. While there were many who questioned her choice of travelling alone, there were others who appreciated her courage.
She thought about where her life was headed, and did some introspection. She finally decided to quit her job, even though she was offered a permanent position at the company she worked for.
Priti, in a previous interview with YourStory said,
“In my heart, I knew I did not want to take this job, as I only wanted to travel. I just took my bag and left office, and never looked back.”
With just Rs 12,000 in her bank account, Priti set out to explore the Rann of Kutch. After completing this trip, Priti launched a women-only travel group, Womaniya. The company offers trips to scenic and breathtaking destinations, from mountains and lakes to homestays in small villages across India, and has no age barriers.
To Priti, travelling is like medicine. “It has given me an identity and recognition that no profession would ever give me,” she says.
From backpacking across the Western Ghats to skiing in Kashmir and surfing in Chennai, Anahita Sriprasad is a seasoned solo traveller. But in 2015, she made headlines for cycling all the way from Leh to Kanyakumari, covering over 4,500 km across nine states in two months, all by herself.
Although she had experience with living alone in hostels in her previous trips, she admits to being vulnerable while alone on the highways. While she did have a few unpleasant encounters, the good memories made up for them.
In a previous interview with YourStory, she says she was pleasantly surprised by kind passersby who offered to help her out, and even invited her to their homes for supper.
On why she persisted with her travels despite facing challenges, Anahita says,
“I think if you decide to explore something, you should just do it, in spite of the odds. For me, the larger picture of proving a point that women and their safety is a concern was the priority. So, all other obstacles didn’t matter at the end of the day.”
Rutavi Mehta began exploring India when she was just 16 years old. She travelled to Kolhapur in a regular ST bus, and wasn't even aware that she was on a 'solo trip' until she heard the term much later.
Over the years, Rutavi has worked as a hotelier, a sales and marketing executive, social media strategist, and internet marketer. Through all these, her passion for travelling stayed constant.
After around seven years of working in the hospitality industry, Rutavi quit her job and went backpacking around Europe. Today, she travels internationally and documents her experiences on her award-winning blog, Photokatha.
Rutavi loves meeting new people, and exploring new places. She also conducts travel meetups in the cities she travels to, and helps people network. She also writes for platforms such as Huffington Post, Lonely Planet, and Maps of India & World.
One of Rutavi's most prominent travel adventures is the 'Rickshaw Run' where she rode an auto rickshaw from Jaisalmer to Shillong, covering over 3,000 km in 12 days. Rutavi also believes in giving back to society, and travels to Ladakh for two months every year to teach children.
A hotel management graduate, Esha Gupta started her journey as a solo traveller in 2011 after quitting her corporate job to follow her passion.
In 2013, Esha decided to venture across the Golden Quadrilateral (a national highway network connecting the four major metro cities of India - Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai) on her bike. She travelled to 20 cities, spanning over 6,000 km, in forty days.
Esha embarked on another 30,000-km journey across 16 states, between January 26, 2016, and May 14, 2016. This trip earned her the tag of 'longest journey on a motorcycle in a single country by a female motorist.'
In a previous interview with YourStory, Esha said she decided to go on these trips with the primary motive of challenging stereotypes that women travellers internalise on how India is an unsafe country for them.
With so many years of solo travelling under her belt, Esha is determined to overcome prejudice and encourage other women to fight the bias. She says,
"If you have to prove anything wrong, first fight the fear of being proven wrong. Pick your strength and work towards the goal. Fear of failure will never take you anywhere."
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)