Long Term Travel: Woes of an Indian Solo Woman Traveller

Earlier this month, I decided to give myself a break from the corporate grind, at least for a short while. However, having worked for over a decade, I need to have something to keep me busy. So, I have decided to travel. I have read blogs and articles on ‘How I gave up all my material possessions to travel the world’ to seek some ideas and inspiration. None of them seemed to help, for each of us things are different… and reasons are different too. I have my reasons as well… and some of them still continue to nag me a little, even though I have decided to trade my formal wear for a pair of rugged jeans.

Here are six things that held me back till now…

1. I have an Indian passport. Except for a few places that allow visa on arrival, typically travelling to Europe and America means spending 2 – 4 weeks for the visa process. Obviously, the visa and processing cost is upwards of USD 150 and adds to the over all cost of travel.

All set to travel...

All set to travel…

I really can’t get up one fine morning and say ‘I want to hop on a flight to Paris’ and simply leave…things need to be in place for that – return tickets, visa, hotel bookings, currency in hand…the list is a really long one!

Time to travel!

Time to travel!

2. In India, we do not have any social security. So, fending for your own livelihood is your own karma. Our taxes don’t take care of our retirement and I will not receive a pension or unemployment allowance from the Government if I do not have a job. So, I need to have a kitty that lets me last the next 30 years at least, adjusted for inflation!

Fun times at work...but I still need to work to make some money!

Fun times at work…but I still need to work to make some money!

3. Till date, a lot of women in India are brought up under a protected environment, especially in smaller towns and villages.Let’s face it… India isn’t in the list of ‘Safest countries for women’. I may hate to admit this and may vehemently defend my country in front of others, but sadly, the truth won’t change. It takes a lot of pluck to spread your wings and fly to a land far far away, especially for a solo women traveller from smaller Indian towns. I have been a ‘big city’ girl and have been fortunate to have a lot of independance ever since I was little. I have lived alone in Mumbai and in Dubai. Yet, there are times I think twice before travelling solo.

My Indian avatar...

My Indian avatar…

4. There really isn’t a concept of ‘Gap Year’ between studies and/or work in India. Honestly, not many students would have heard about it. ‘Taking one year off to see the world’ isn’t the norm here. I never thought taking a break to travel while I was studying. I worked for a while, but that was primarily to be independent and have a better shot at getting into a good business school.

Trip to Bhutan....the only weeklong trip I did when I was at B school

Trip to Bhutan….the only weeklong trip I did when I was at B school

5. My appetite to take risks and handle uncertainty has gone down over the years. At the end of every month, I have received a fixed salary since the last ten years. My expenses are pretty much planned. I know how much will go in house rent, food, travel etc. I know how much I will save. A nomadic lifestyle brings with it a lot of uncertainty… and I have some mental conditioning charted out for me to face ambiguity head on!

6. Not many Indian companies have the provision for a sabbatical. A lot of women find it difficult to get back to regular corporate life after having taken a 12 month break due to personal reasons, including marriage and motherhood. I am not sure if I want to take this sabbatical…

Will the blog take me somewhere?

Will the blog take me somewhere?

What will I do after I am done travelling for a few months? What will keep me occupied? Would a corporate want to hire me again? Maybe I need to think of a business plan to establish a stream of cash… I am still thinking…

Do you have long term travel on your mind? What’s holding you back?

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2 Responses

  1. Nailed it! Same reasons which holds me back from travelling. I’m worried even to take 15 days break from work for travel as this will affect everything.. My Performance Appraisal, my salary and so..

    Wonder when India will have that mentality of it’s ok to take a break and travel!

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