There’s a trend in the travel industry at the moment, a movement if you will. Those who are selling their possessions, and packing everything up to travel the world. Women who travel solo and work full time
Though travel doesn’t always have to be about quitting your job and leaving everything behind. Sometimes you might actually like your job, and the stable lifestyle of a 9-5. Sometimes you might actually enjoy the security of having a home base to return to. Work full time and still travel
Just as there are many travelers right now realizing their dreams of full time travel, it’s also important to recognize that there are just as many travelers successfully juggling a full time corporate job too. Because it is absolutely possible for women to take up travel without sacrificing other elements of their lives. Deepika Gumaste is one of them. Women who travel
A communications consultant from India, Deepika has been working in the corporate world for over 5 years now. Belonging to a family of travel lovers, she has been blessed with itchy feet genetically, though doesn’t let a corporate job hold her back from traveling the world. She can juggle them both.
While the life of a vagabond isn’t completely off the table, for now she keeps herself satisfied by her yearly hikes in the Himalayas and multiple sojourns in Asia. Today’s interview is with Deepika Gumaste on her solo travels.
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What do you love the most about travelling?
Every time I travel, there’s something new. New people, new locations, new landscapes. Girls who travel by themselves
There is something new about the air I breathe, the land I walk on, the food I eat. It is this quest for ‘new’ that I am in love with! Solo female travel
What inspired you to start travelling?
I belong to a family of travellers, so I have always had the itchy feet. But If I have to put my finger on something and say this inspired me, I would say it’s my sickness. Women who travel solo and work full time
Last year, I fell chronically ill. I took a 2 months wellness sabbatical from work and took multiple trips. The more I traveled, the better I started to feel. Since then there’s been no looking back! Travel with a full time job
Tell us about your travels to date!
I plan my trips in such a way that I have the opportunity to experience world from different angles. I’ve been a beach bum, slept under the stars, attended luxurious press trips, danced around campfires, lived on a secluded tortoise shaped island, and bathed under waterfalls. I have spent time in museums, hiked across a glacier, and been sea-walking and parasailing in both Bali & Thailand. Facts about solo female travel
At times I have gone temple-hopping and indulged in leisurely spas. I have spent time reading a Ruskin Bond book in the jungles of India, and chatted with Chinese soldiers at the Indo-Sino border. I have danced at a New Year’s party on a beach in Seminyak, and have drank the world’s costliest and quite literally shitty coffee; Kopi Luwak. Things to know about traveling alone as a female
You can read about some of my most special travel memories here: Travel Moments that left me speechless! Oh, by the way, did I mention? I met my partner because of my travels and he proposed me on our first travel together?
Recently, I also undertook my first big trek and went hiking in the isolate parts of Himalayas for a week. Things to know about solo female travel
What is so empowering about solo travel?
I have a personal belief that every man/woman has a little hidden ego that is misinformed. When that happens, we make assumptions about ourselves and about others. We either think “people are bad” or we think “there is nothing we can’t do alone.” Facts about women who travel by themselves
That’s the beauty of solo travel. It grounds you and smacks you with a reality check. It teaches you that sometimes people are actually good, and that at times, you can’t do things alone. You sometimes do need other people to help you out! Facts about solo female travelers
What are the perks of being able to travel alone?
The best part of going solo is that you get time with yourself to reflect, understand and have a talk with yourself. You can plan for yourself, take decisions on a fly, without thinking about preferences of other co-travellers- spouse, family, kids, etc. Qualities of women who travel alone
Interestingly, when we travel alone we are also more free-spirited, ready to experiment, outgoing and are willing to meet and explore new places, new people and go beyond the familiar.
How has solo travel changed you as a person?
I learnt to tie my own shoes, cook my own food, bake my own pizza, and learnt to deal with my own stuff! Now that, I think is amazing.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about travelling as a female alone?
That there are no other solo female travellers out there! Now what could be more misleading?! Characteristics of women who travel alone
In your country of India particularly, why should solo females travel here?
India is stunning, magical, awesomely confusing, with absolutely jaw dropping landscapes, monuments, history, food and people. And it is absolutely safe. Good enough a reason? Why do women travel solo?
Though there are fantastic cultural experiences too. One of my favorite memories from travel throughout my country was from learning pottery in the middle of India’s central jungles. It was a refreshing experience. A village named Khawasa around the Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh is a village full of potterers and artisans. The entire village is inhabited by potterers who earn a meagre Rs.20/ for each of their creation.
Hindu festivals like Diwali, Gokulashtmi and Navratri keep their tides going as people tend to buy multiple clay designs of diyas, vases and idols.
Do you find that people label or pity you when you tell them you’re travelling alone?
I have found people to be overly kind to solo travelers. In my experience, people have been more empathetic and nicer to me. I have had people going out of their way to make me feel comfortable and at home.
Have you found that in some cultures being a woman means you have to follow certain rules?
Why be embarrassed to do/wear something which keeps you safe or doesn’t hurt anybody’s cultural sensibilities?
If you are advised to not stick your chopsticks outright in a bowl of rice in Japan, you wouldn’t right? Now it’s the same situation, albeit, it’s the dress in question. So why fuss? Go travel and keep others happy too.
Do you receive any unwanted attention as a female travelling alone?
I can’t say unwanted attention. But, yes, I have observed people becoming extra conscious of my presence. Some have even gone out of their way to put me at ease. Why do some women choose to travel alone?
Now, not that I am complaining, but solo traveling men don’t get such attention. Do they? Maybe, that sometimes makes me uncomfortable.
Have you ever felt unsafe? What are your biggest safety tips for other females travelling alone?
Once on my way back home from one of my trips in India, I was waiting for my bus. It was late by 3 hours and I was all alone standing there on a highway in the middle of night! Scary! Best thing about solo female travel
But generally I believe common sense and being aware of your surroundings are the biggest things to staying safe when traveling alone.
What is the one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you started traveling?
That I don’t have to quit my job to travel. Really! I have been so fortunate to have found a job, which nurtures my passion of travel. My job allows me the flexibility to take leave, and this is how I fund my travel.
To keep a healthy travel fund I sometimes take up invitations to attend press trips and hotel reviews. I also keep freelancing for travel websites, keeping my small fund going. Can women have a full time job and travel?
One thing which you don’t like about travelling?
Long flights and poor flight food.
Biggest cultural shock you have experienced abroad?
I went on a family trip to Thailand when I was quite young which turned out to be the most memorable trip ever taken with my family. As a child, I was quite embarrassed to see naked women, and as we made our way through the streets, strip clubs were openly selling themselves out there on road, with my parents in tow. How to travel the world with a full time job
I was quite embarrassed, back then. I have a lot of respect for that country now though. I remember being awed at the sparkling performances by ‘lady boys’ at the Alcazar show. I think we all should learn from Thailand on how to respect our LGBT friends! Can I still travel if I work full time?
Three things you can’t travel without?
Smartphone for music. Smartphone to indulge in mobile photography. And power bank to charge my smartphone!
Which destinations are at the top of your bucket list?
Hah! That’s a tricky question. So many. Which ones should I list? I want to see the whole world. But if I have to put my heart out for top 3, I would say: The complete range of Himalayas (Bhutan, India, Nepal, China, Tibet & Pakistan), Austria & French countryside for its rich cultural heritage, and then of course, Antarctica. Things to know about traveling alone as a female
But that’s not forget heading on the frozen river trek; Chadar in Ladakh, India. That’s definitely on my wish list. Is it ok to travel alone?
Most practical piece of advice for those planning solo travel?
From my own experiences, I would say to start with offbeat & independent solo travel groups. They offer flexibility in terms of itineraries and their planning. So while you gain the experience of what it means to travel solo, you won’t feel overwhelmed.
Once you gain the confidence, then go completely solo.
Why should people travel?
There are so many reasons why we should travel. Because there are so many places to be discovered, people to be found, cuisines to be eaten. We should travel because it helps us learn, empowers to take on new challenges, humbles us, helps us rediscover ourselves and understand other people.
Most of all why we should travel you ask? Because there’s only one life we have and it’s to be lived to the fullest!
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