The magnificent Florentine sculptures stared directly at me. It looked at me with acceptance- it looked at a woman who was drinking wine in the middle of the night under the starry sky in the middle of the noisy and crowded piazza. It saw that I was all alone, and with its gaze, came a sense of empowerment that engulfed me. I realised how directly the idea of solo travelling is related to the ideology of feminism.
This was my first solo trip, it was a big deal for my Indian parents. Like most of the other parents, my parents too couldn’t fantom how could I travel all alone. A woman travelling alone in this big scary world was nothing less than a terrible idea. Yet, in the current scenario, there has been an increase in the number of solo trips that women are undertaking. The change is welcome and it has also made many travel agents like Memorable India to look up and offer women-friendly packages.
As I was packing my bags to travel I thought how differently travelling is perceived for men and women. A man wanting to travel alone doesn’t even have to think about the number of safety issues that we, as women have to. No one in the society even bats an eye when a man wants to go solo tripping. He is seen as a wanderer- a lust for travel-wanderlust. And here, we are- women- we have to fight and convince for the mere fundamental right travelling.
That is why solo tripping for women is something that is empowering and freeing. It is seen as a way to shift the gender bias and reach to a field of equality.
In recent times, it has been noticed that women have started travelling solo more often than men. When it comes to solo travelling undertaken by women, there are actually a host of reasons because of which we undertake such a journey. Most of it is related to breaking the shackles of the patriarchal world.
There is also a popular society called the Solo Travel Society that facilitate travelling for solo females. According to the- 46% of women travel to gain freedom and to advocate the point of being in control of themselves and not being others’ puppets. 22% travel solo because they didn’t want to wait for anyone and enjoy their time on their own and finally 15% said that they travel alone to challenge their limits and acquire confidence. These statistics reveal that women travel for more empowering and socially relevant reasons rather than just exploring the new place. Under the facade of exploring, women like to enjoy the new found freedom.
All these reasons are also extremely different from men who mostly undertake a solo journey either for business purpose or simply vacationing.
Travelling is something that is very pious and is a way of expressing independence. It is the way to show that one can survive properly in a foreign land. Such an ideology is very important when it comes to women. Women have long been seen as properties that must be protected from the outside world. Solo travel aims to break this archaic notion and push forward the image of a new age woman- who is in control of not just her own body but her own life. She isn’t afraid to venture out or to talk to strangers and mingle around.
This new phenomenon has given rise to a new model of Barbie, where she is shown as a traveller. This is a huge boost to push the idea of equality in young children’s mind.
The reality of this world, unfortunately, is, that while women are expressing their new found freedom, the world hasn’t changed much. There are still some places or areas where women feel unsafe as they travel. A woman still has to carry essential safety equipment and be extra cautious when travelling alone. While there is been a little decline in the safety issues, thanks to the #metoo movement, but still the structure of the society is still the same.
A woman has to think twice before visiting a darkly lit alley or has to keep checking the time and make sure she reaches the hotel in time. All these things haven’t changed. A lot of times women have to sacrifice going out late at night in a foreign country and stays cooped up in the hotel room.
While there are tours and travel agencies that provide women safety tours, and all that, but still the fear doesn’t disappear. The tours have to some limit provided an emotional and security blanket, but still, it is not enough. Most women tend to choose a travel agency that provides a guarantee of security and safety.
Plan your first day well: When you reach your holiday destination make sure that you walk around in daylight and explore everything that the place has to offer. Find out the nearest police stations and cafes and everything that can come in handy.
Don’t divulge travel details: Many times locals or guides tend to ask which hotel you are staying at. It is best not to name your hotel. If you feel it’s too rude to simply decline then give a fake name.
Meet other women travellers: Try and meet more solo female travellers. This will ensure both safeties and you will have a fun time.
Decline Rides: Many times locals try to offer a ride when they see you alone. Avoid this as much as possible. Politely decline and say no thank you and move forward.
Solo Travelling for women is an exciting and extremely beautiful experience. It gives freedom to women and helps them relax for some time. It is a great opportunity to meet new people, go wherever your heart pleases and do what you like. It also shows the world that a woman is her own master now. She is not polite and obedient anymore, and no one controls her. She is her own boss. The world too is changing for her- with most people coming in terms with this new found trend, and a lot of brands are cashing in on his wonderful and strong movement. And now as I slowly sip my wine and stare into the sky, my heart hopes that this trend never fades away and more and more women experience what I experienced that day in Florence.