Born to a traditional Gujarati Family in the heart of South Mumbai, my sister and I always lived a very protected life however for some reason I felt like a trapped bird who kept fluttering her wings inside a golden cage.
Coming from an eminent business background, money was never an issue but the constant pressure of having to be on the best behaviour at all times and not being able to live life on my own terms was ripping me apart with every passing day. I wanted to run, I wanted to fall, get up again and run and live life…. Love life. I would read a lot, about travellers, places, geography, climate, travel stories, travel faux-pas. My favourite TV channel would be the Nat Geo and my favourite shows would be…. No prizes for guessing, Travel Shows
From a very young, I aspired to be a Travel Show Host and travel the world. It’s like I was born with wheels under my feet, staying put in one place was never my thing and imagine not being allowed to step out of the house without anyone… Pure Torture!!
My experience as a solo backpacker
I never planned to put my foot down and step out of the house. It just happened. It was, as if, something was beckoning me to give up on my mundane existence and to experience something more fascinating in the outer world which I realised was welcoming me with wide open arms. After 25 years of staying in my family home, I decided to take a step towards my freedom, towards the life of my dreams
I was on the threshold of matrimony so I decided to take my fiancé into confidence and openly discuss this matter with both the families. I was independent and drawing a good package and was confident that I was capable enough to look after my own home and expenses without any issues. Once I received a “Go” from my would be mother-in-law, I got the courage and found myself a beautiful apartment and almost instantly started planning my first solo trip. I believed in my dreams and took a leap of faith. I decided to travel solo and discover myself and India.
My first independent travel was to Magical Goa in 2011.
Solo travelling comes with some advantages
As they say ‘That a man who goes alone can start today, but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” I was tired of accommodating other people’s change in itinerary, or last minute cancellations in travel plans. Also I felt the need to jump into solo traveling because I wanted to spread out my wings.
After I started living independently and even post marriage I have taken several solo trips. I believe one of the main reasons why we opt to travel solo is to challenge ourselves, to see how far we can expand, to try something different which is out of our comfort zone.
Having dreamt of being a traveller all my life, this thirst of seeing places has taken me practically all over India barring a few places that I am yet to explore. I have been fortunate enough to have got a chance to visit places as remote as the Zanskar Valley in Ladakh. I have also been this daredevil chick and roamed the streets of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar solo.
Today, I feel utmost pride that I am managing to explore every street of the country on my own, and creating a wealth of wonderful memories along the way. I have broken that myth that woman can’t travel solo. When it comes to travelling in India, I have begun to believe that it’s a land of many hidden jewels with many beautiful hearts.
Almost 95% of my travels so far have been self-funded otherwise my husband Rohan, was more than happy to oblige. Currently I am working as a freelance photo journalist and love my job to bits. I am actually living my dream!
Solo travelling has given me an opportunity to explore within, just like others would explore the world, away from all the stress and hustle of daily life. It has given me a new perspective towards life and a chance to break-free from all the monotony to introspect on my thoughts, dreams, strengths and limitations.
I was plain and simple lucky that I got a chance to experience the life of Kung-Fu Nuns (Nuns who are trained in Kung-Fu) not once but twice. I met them during my solo backpacking trip to Ladakh and Nepal. Living with them, I realised that behind their smiling faces and calm demeanour lives a roaring sea of immense energy and strength.
Whichever part of the country I trekked at, I realised how humbled mankind is and despite living in extreme conditions they are always happy to serve you with a smile and that too without having any expectations. The local children are always found to be brimming with high energy and their eyes are full of dreams. Trips like these are sometimes met with a few unpleasant experiences too. I have along the way also met with minor accidents which made me value life even more. I travelled on the world’s most treacherous roads, gone rural, practiced Yoga with Yogis and interacted with army personnel who live in extreme conditions to keep us safe.
What I take back with me…
Travel has made me realise that life is not about living in luxury. Life is only about being happy. The life I chose to live when I broke free, has given me several moments to cherish for my lifetime. The experiences that I have had along the way have made me stronger yet more compassionate towards my fellow beings.
I now realize the importance of the life I was born with and the choices I was allowed to nourish. I am deeply grateful to my wonderful family ( blood and marital)for their constant love and support and also for the littlest of things that I have in my life today as these are things that make me.
Travel has helped me to open up my mind and accepts things the way they are and not get upset if something doesn’t go the way I want them to. When you see people living in extreme conditions and still courageous enough to survive, you tend to stop making excuses for your own life.
The turning point
As far as I remember, I have always loved travelling but I never thought that it would become my passion one day. It was my trip to the Everest Base Camp which changed things for me. I don’t know what but something struck a chord with me there that made me realise that the world is a better place and it needs to be explored in the best way. There is beauty, magnificence, splendour and all I want today is- to be a part of it and someday make my children a part of it too
When you set out to travel, make sure you are well versed with the place before you venture out on your solo trip. Do the required research, read articles and blogs, find out people who have been to the place before, talk to them. Getting to know the place beforehand is an absolute must. Get the right gear and accessories and never compromise on the quality. I can vouch for the Go-Travel accessories that are durable, safe and extremely useful. They are my best travel buddies whenever I am on my soul searching trips alone
By choice I began my journey as a solo woman traveller and I swear it has not been an easy ride. I faced many challenges to keep my passion alive. Hailing from a traditional family background, where travelling solo is unheard of, I got through many hurdles to keep my dream alive. But I was extremely lucky unlike many out there to have been born to an incredible set of parents and to be married into the most accommodating family ever. I did go through a series of ups and downs however that did not dampen my spirits even for the slightest miniscule of a second and I remained focused
I think when we decide to go solo, the biggest challenge or the things which come in our mind is loneliness, security and of course managing the budget. But then, this is why you travel solo, to fight the demons in your head, to open yourself to the world, to test your wings and learn to live a new dimension of life with limited means. It changes your priority and attitude towards life. I am sure, If I can handle all this, you can too!