Gender equality, women's right, freedom to women's speech, plunging through the glass ceiling, so on and so forth, honestly, I think we all are good at preaching or even without thinking twice, we profess on each and every of these contexts on social media. But lemme tell you that once I started seeing the world on my own (Chiang Rai/Chiang Mai), I realize many of us are living our lives like the katak dibawah tempurung/frog under a coconut shell. Really, believe me you. Until I am so tired of explaining to each and every one I bump into while travelling why I am solo trip-travelling. Unbelievable the questions people throw at me, some of course will go to the extent of plotting their own theories like I must be a lonely woman, I am divorced or I don't have friends or whatever, ever and ever. Goodness gracious. God save these people please (Dubai, Libra Cruise & Phuket).
Mind you, these are professionals and even Westerners whom we think are open and broad minded. My question is, why can't a married woman like me travel alone? Is it a sin? It is something usual? Look around you and you will the western women on their own which somehow is acceptable but when its an Indian woman like me, hell of a lot of questions must pop up Really annoying believe me until sometimes I can't help but open my mouth and tell them that my other half-half is working hard so that I get to travel. Obviously, such a reply does not go down well, people usually interpret it as though I am queen controlling my other half-half, sincerely, I can't be bothered. Maybe its the cultural thing that its not common for Indian women to be seen on their own, maybe, nevertheless, because of these people, I actually thought I should pitch my story why as a married woman, I still find it nothing wrong to solo travelling.
Of course my other half-half and myself, we do take our moment to love travelling (Bergen & Copenhagen), no doubt, though not as frequent as I expect, but we do explore the world together (Verona/Milan & Rome). Other than that, I am on my own and I love every moment of it. Not to say the best will be with me, yet, bottom line, I am fine. I really have no qualms travelling solo (Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh).
To all the women friends I have travelled before, thank you for the hard and soft lessons. Otherwise, I wouldn't have known the difference between friendship and travelling. Friendship of course is fantastic for gossiping, for catching up over a meal or for a shoulder to shed some crocodile tears. Travelling on the other hand, even with your closest friends can be like "one thing leading to other disastrous things". In fact, if you have assumed that you know your friends at the back of your hands or legs, sorry to say, until and unless you travel together, the facts as listed below you probably will be blur about (Malacca Part 2 & Malacca Part 1).
Fussy Pots – though some claim it is possible to travel with men in the name of clean fun, I have never, neither I will, so I’ll leave the men alone. As for women, I can’t comprehend why they fuss for no apparent reason or are women naturally like that? Never mind if they fuss on the obvious things but the shocking discovery can be like walking a little further from one place to the other, what and where to eat, expecting the best for paying so little and/or worrying about practically everything under the sun. More alarming is their 100% obsessive need for cleanliness which you and I know is not guaranteed while travelling.
But you see, for all that fussing, the first night in the room will reveal otherwise. It can begin with throwing things all over the place including in the toilet, damn with their dirty toilet habits, the king size bed is small, conveniently taking up the whole bed and leaving none for you, and women can snore louder than men, don’t they? Also, as the days goes by, fussing obviously is the silent killer and don't be surprise if the sweet demure lady becomes loud and nasty if you don't dance to her tune.
Money – the most sensitive amongst all, friends can conveniently forget to carry money, or pretend by not paying for their share or start calculating why they have to pay five cents more. I suppose it's l okay because friendship is about caring and sharing. I also don't mind the hours of bargaining while shopping and not buying or forcing you to buy instead of conveniently forgetting to pack none of the essentials for a holiday. In such instances and when sharing happens quite often, I'm not sure if sharing is still caring.
Social Media – in this era of virtual world, I understand that nothing is more important than social media. But I guess the over-obsession for it does ruin a friendship in the cause of travelling. Ask me what I have not experienced and I’ll tell you all on selfing and selfing and forcing you as well. Thereafter, pictures must be uploaded immediately to garner likes and you better be prepared for your ears to be blown apart. Well, you must listen to their supposedly busy at work secret admirers or besties comments. That is not all. The social obsession is at the courtesy of your roaming service.
Basically for me, I learned to travel solo mainly because of the so called friends and travelling with family members comes with similar sets of dramas as well. Travelling solo I am not saying is perfect sailing but it is incredible for two valid reasons.
By travelling solo, you learn to stand on your own feet, you learn to make your own decisions and you learn to handle crises. Simply said, it is an experience that adds value to your learning curve. Upon your first solo travel, possibilities are there that you will narrow down on your circle of friends by either staying away or permanently blocking them from your life. My travelling learning curve started when I flew alone to Bangkok at 45 years old. I call still recall how nervous and panicky I was despite boarding the right flight. Upon arrival at Bangkok, it didn't help that I stood for 2 1//2 hours in the longest queue for clearance, I couldn't find my luggage because by then it was pushed to one corner and I didn't even know how to get out of the airport. Eventually, after asking around, I saw the exit and if not for the cab driver who patiently waited, most probably I would have cried.
When I returned again to Bangkok after three days thereafter, instead of prior booking a room, I walked into a boutique hotel. With no rooms available, automatically I pressed my panic button. Somehow I later managed and as the receptionist was kind enough to direct me to another hotel, I then arrived at Pathumwan Princess Hotel. By the next one hour, I have calmed down and for the next three days, I embarked on different tours with unknown people. Additionally, I met other solo Western women travelers who indirectly inspired me to furthermore travel on my own back bone.
All said and done, if your spouse is not supportive of you travelling alone, I guess you have to find out why. I won’t say I had it easy with my other half-half. It took him almost five years before he saw the light that said he should allow me to travel alone. Well, he felt that if he kicks the bucket, I won’t be a lost soul, I won’t depend on other people and travelling by itself will broaden my horizon for many other interesting things. Once I started travelling, we realised that being apart from each other actually does further strengthen our love bond. To keep in touch and to care on each other, no matter what, despite the hundreds or millions of miles apart, we call each other possibly every other day. My other half has also learned to function without me, he tries his level best to keep the house clean and I am ensured my plants will be alive when I return home.
So, all your great people, being married is not an obstacle to travelling solo but if you still insist on travelling with friends, go ahead with those great travel companions. For me, the once too many not nice experiences pretty much sums up why I prefer to travel solo. And the next time you bum into a married solo traveller, stop with the questions because not many women including the single ones dare to travel alone despite claiming to be independent.
Happy Travelling Ladies!!