This wasn’t intentional.
Continuing with the franchise-post in its third year was intentional but writing about 11 women who travel AND did not quit their job to do so, was not.
In 2016, when the idea of celebrating the stories of travellers who had quit the excuses but not their jobs to explore the world around them first occurred to me, it was to make visible the narrative that travel wasn’t a privilege reserved only for those considered brave enough to let go for their desk-jobs!
In 2017, when Volume II was written, the intention remained the same. Of course, by then the reputation of quit-my-job-to-travel had also gotten downgraded a bit.
In 2018, Volume III looks at celebrating the narrative that not only do women travel but they do so of their own accord i.e. they plan, implement as well as fund their own travels. In doing so, they are reclaiming spaces mainstream media would like us to believe weren’t ours, to begin with.
This isn’t about women’s empowerment in the way the International Women’s Day articles (which is still three weeks away) would like for us to believe in. I have steered clear of asking the question: What’s it like travelling as a woman?
To me, that question reeks of the very thing it claims to overthrow: a bias against women.
If you’re up for some witty, sharp and matter-of-fact perspectives from the women who travel — women-folk who (like their male counterparts) also have families to support, bosses, teams, and clients to manage, enterprises to run AND wanderlust to satiate — you’re at the right place!
Meet the women who travel
Ila Reddy, 28 | New Delhi
I like to travel responsibly with as minimal a carbon footprint as possible.
I manage the Deployments team at SocialCops (a data intelligence start-up) responsible for implementing various programmes of the Government. Since last year, I’ve been trying to travel at least once every month (for non-work purposes). I’ve realised that travel does not need time and money as much as it needs spirit! If experiences matter more than objects or socialising/eating out/drinking, etc., you will find a way however hectic it might be or whatever constraints you might have.
My parents are fairly liberal and understand my love for travel. I plan my trips in advance, take safety precautions (like booking safe accommodation, not traveling at odd hours, not staying out too late) and keep them in the loop of my whereabouts.
My travel hack involves carrying a reusable bottle for drinking water; to save both, plastic and money. If I’m catching a flight where water is not allowed through security check, I keep an empty bottle with me that I can fill later. On the other hand, I hate when there are delays or if my accommodation doesn’t turn out the way it was described (cleanliness matters to me).
I just got back from Cambodia and I’m contemplating a farm-stay in Rajasthan soon
Sudha Ganapathi, 46 | Mumbai
I travel with a focus on art, culture, heritage, and music. Most of my travel choices and destinations reflect that.
I’m an editor and head the Publications division at a university. At times, I take sessions on Academic Writing Skills. I travel once or twice a year, usually in the 4-month period between November and February. The rest of the year is packed with work. When there is a slack period, I take short breaks. The idea that one has to balance demands of my work versus the lure of travel is a little absurd for I love my work and I love my travels. Both have their place in my life and I can’t do without either. There have been times when work and/or family commitments take priority over travel, or in a toss-up between urgent house repairs and international travel, I have chosen the former.
Unruly crowds; lack of washroom facilities, particularly for women, and defaced monuments are just some of my pet peeves while travelling. And to those who want to be nosey about why I travel, I merely shoot them with a “mind-your-own-business” dirty glare.
I don’t have a specific destination planned yet for my next sojourn. But wherever that ends up being, it will only be after June.
Nupur Pradhan, 30 | Pune
I am a slow traveller. Wherever I go, I prefer to take my time and relax instead of rushing.
I sit at my desk, stuck to a computer for around eight hours a day, making sure we break the news first! In other words, I work in the online department of a media house. Quite evidently and rather, unfortunately, I don’t have weekends off. My weekly off is a Monday so I have to really plan in advance to take a holiday. On the upside, I get invited to press trips, like flying tonight to Delhi for the Auto Expo.
Truth is no one ever has enough money to travel. Change your destination if you have to. Last year, I was planning to go to Europe but couldn’t, so I changed the destination to Southeast Asia and travelled anyway. Keep checking on flight prices to the destinations you want to go even if you have not planned those yet. You never know when the prices drop!
Frankly, solo travel is not my thing. I am a scaredy-cat. I am scared of being alone, darkness, empty streets, you get the drift. I can’t even make sane decisions alone. I’m also not a fan of your typical ‘ghar ka khana’ or Indian food while traveling.
Ankita, 28 | Goa
My bucket list of Indian destinations is way too long and keeps increasing all the time. The bug to travel abroad hasn’t bitten me yet.
I am an architect by qualification and work as a Project Coordinator for construction projects. My travel plans differ every year. I aim at 3-4 long weekends if the year permits and two 8-10 day trips in a year. My parents are actually quite proud of how I manage fearlessly on my own.
You must really want to travel bad enough to plan better and make it happen. You definitely have time and money (or you wouldn’t possess that iPhone). So scour the long weekends! Make good use of the destination weddings. And finish all your leaves.
Take impromptu detours from your original plan, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I have the Himalayas on my mind for May and I need to start planning soon.
Ankita in the digital world: Instagram
Noella D’souza, 28 | Mumbai
My travels have mostly been someone else’s plan. I learn about a place on the way, letting it amaze me! In retrospect, I travel with two perspectives – theirs and mine
I am a communications professional with bad communications skills in real-time (What follows ‘Hello’, is a question that has always left me dumbfounded). I never run out of itineraries as I am always travelling with someone. But I definitely fall short of leaves. I’m still trying to find my balance, but the tug of war is a good thing.
Sweeter travel experiences sit in the wait! Travel should not be overthought. Just do it! You’ll either be speechless or have an awesome story to tell. But we need to stop seeing these places through the viewfinder. Stop trying to take too make photographs and actually live the moments.
“Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.” said Lisa Saint Aubin de Teran and I’ve been dreaming about the Northern Lights since forever! But I see myself travelling to Rishikesh next with my sister. I think more than my parents, my watchman wonders, “Kitna ghoomti hai yeh ladkiyaan?!”
Noella in the digital world: Facebook
Sneha Patil, 28 | Mumbai
I’d hate to put myself in a box. I’ve done and loved it all – solo travel, backpacking, shoestring trips, luxury trips, treks!
I am a content strategist and writer by profession. However, working in a start-up means that the scope of my JD is unlimited and ever-changing! In spite of it all, I try to do a big two-week trip or two one-week trips in a year. Rest are short trips over long weekends. It takes a little bit planning and HR/boss usually does not have a problem so long as you are able to meet your targets. To those who wonder why and how I travel as much as I do, well, I don’t need anyone’s permission to travel, I’m an independent adult.
For years, I have chosen to not spend money on alcohol in pubs or eating out in fancy restaurants ever so often. It saves so much money! As for time, you know how much you value your time better than anyone else. And if you truly value and love travel enough, then ‘not having time’ is just an excuse.
I think traveling with the right company is very important; it can kill a place for you. I can’t travel with people whose travel style doesn’t match mine (i.e fussy about food, using public transport/walking, can’t wake up early, you get the drift), even if it is my best friend.
Aditi Abhay, 28 | Pune
A local #MountainGoat slow living her ways. I like staying in interiors of villages and valleys with locals, enjoying aimless hikes and tree gazing.
I am a full-time digital marketing professional and a part-time active procrastinator. I travel 2-3 times in a year. I once told my colleague back in 2012 in Delhi, “I want to fund my travels. That’s what motivates me to get up and kick some serious ass”. There are days when I don’t want to interact with people, quietly tiptoe around the house and run to mountains but then my alter-self realizes that I’ve serious deadlines to manage.
Folks littering the place with their idea of chilling is what unnerves me a lot. I’ve worked with an NGO in Corbett that educates people in waste management and we (my friends and I) have picked up trash during our day long treks and carried them to bins all the way downhill.
Six years ago I had stepped out for my first solo travel to Satoli (a village in Uttarakhand) for an assignment with an NGO. It took a few patient phone conversations with my mother in Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh). I had to cover up the anxiety of my first solo travel and simultaneously manage my mother visualizing scenarios in her head. Since then, every time I step out (solo or in a group), I give a couple of weeks (sometimes months) for my mother to process my plans. Sometimes it gets down to three questions my mom throws at me: ‘WHERE?’ ‘WITH WHOM?’ ‘WHEN?’ ‘OK!’ So blessed to find no ‘WHY’ in it (not yet).
In May 2018, maybe. I’ll head to Arunachal Pradesh – it’s been on my mind since the start of this year!
Edwina D’souza, 30 | Mumbai
Folks call me a pseudo-Catholic because I visit more temples. I love road trips and recently did a seven-day rickshaw road trip in Sri Lanka.
I work on internal communications for a consultancy firm. It’s largely a desk job, which works because it makes the yearning for outdoors twice as much fun! I like the dual life I lead as a corporate slave and a travel junkie… each is an escape from the other. My father worked in the aviation field, so we got annual trips to places abroad. That’s how we, yes, all in my family caught the travel bug.
Yet every time before going on leave, I feel guilty about leaving my work behind for others to do. Although, once I hit the road, I never really think about work. The more I have travelled, the more I have realised that you don’t need a lot of money to travel – just the time and will. The ones who don’t have time have other priorities and travel isn’t one of them. It’s that simple!
I’m hardly fussy but yes, I can’t do groups. Four would be a crowd for me! I always ALWAYS ask people their names during my interactions on the road, and I make it a point to address them by their name. They like it and it helps to build a connection.
Next? Well, at the end of this month, I’m off to Rishikesh to bungee-jump. Bucket list item number 4 – Check!
Akila, 28 | Bengaluru
I travel to understand, learn and imbibe the art and culture of the place. I have learnt to stay away from camera while traveling!
I am freelance architect and photographer. I have been wise enough to choose work that demands travel. As a freelancer, that is a huge perk!
No one had to ‘allow’ me to travel and most of my travel kick-started because of work. Besides, all my loved ones are used to travelling themselves so it really wasn’t anything to fuss about. I have met people who are happy staying within the four walls of their homes and those who are not satisfied with any amount of travel they do. To each, his own! A person must travel only when he/she really wants to. Otherwise, it’s no fun for him/her or for the company he/she travel with!
When I travelled for the first time, I was carried away in flaunting my clothes. But I realised that I was a very impulsive traveller. I usually never stuck to the plan I’d made. I decided to travel light so that I can explore the place in whichever way I want without having to worry about carrying luggage!
I just returned from a beautiful 10-day vacation to Thailand and Cambodia so I would like to really work hard until I deserve another one!
Akila in the digital world: Instagram
Shikha Gautam, 31 | Delhi
I love talking to locals about their daily life and prefer home-stays. Hostels and backpacking do not work for me though.
I am the Editor Lead for TOI Travel. I, thankfully, have a profile that is not a contrast to travel. P.S.: No, I do not go on trips for work. I take one trip every three months. I function in the start-up mode; working super-hard so that my absence does not hurt my team’s or my own goals when I’m not around. I believe there is always a way around having time and money for travel; it’s about priorities. Just like I don’t believe in asking but simply informing my folks that I’m taking off! I slip in my next trip’s detail in daily talk like its matter of fact.
Not a hack in the true sense, but I always carry wire-loops and clothespins while travelling. The girl who was seen drying clothes under the Himalayan sun by that lake was me! I can never carry dirty laundry around; yes, it’s my fetish. I’m off to Uttarakhand in May!
And fussy-bossy-demanding people and folks who speak loudly on flights and trains are my pet-peeve while travelling.
Mansi Potdar, 32 | Pune
I am a solo traveler at a heart. I prefer flash-packing without an itinerary. I am always chasing the sunshine, the ocean, and my next great adventure.
I’ve founded my wedding planning company – JoySmiths; I am a certified wedding planner from NYC. I make the most important day of my client’s life perfect. Sometimes I travel twice a month and some other times I am gone for 4 months at a stretch. My work is seasonal so it gives me a lot of time to travel in my off-season. I can also work remotely due to the nature of my work. As for my folks, I just pack my bags, inform them and then I go.
There is a kind of travel that I don’t understand — dragging a suitcase, going to only the most popular tourist-y spots, not trying local cuisine, “touch-and-go” tourism.
For an immersive experience, I’d recommend attending Couchsurf and other meet-ups during your travels to interact with locals and fellow travellers. I have Central America coming up in July 2018.
Mansi in the digital world: Instagram
That’s them there
The women who travel
11 of them from different professional and personal backgrounds
With different travel styles
These 11 are only a tiny slice of the women out there who travel and work.
If you are one like them or know one like them – the ones who like Ayn Rand live by the motto: “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” , I’d love for you to share your journey too.
Now that you’ve heard what they’ve had to say; them and the 23 other folks – women and men – I’ve featured in my previous posts, what is stopping you from exploring your neighbourhood, your city, your state, your country …and other countries?
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I run workshops using narratives as a medium when working with individuals, groups, and organizations to help explore and improve both, intra and interpersonal relationships. Let’s explore!
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