Solo Or Not: Guilt Won’t Stop Us From Traveling

What is the big deal about women carrying their own luggage? Its not as if bags and suitcases need to be hauled around like those antediluvian and monstrous holdalls from the yesteryears.

Having recently returned from an all-sisters trip to Italy; I’ve wasted the last few days dreaming of the crisp air, even crispier bread and heavenly bottles of wine.

While the food and locales did take center stage, the fact that we were together, doing it all on our own, making memories and discoveries without having to think of anything else was something was utterly delicious and energising.

But this sort of all-women-travel doesn’t come without the usual set of conjecture and questions.

‘Haw! Europe? How will you cart around your own luggage across cities?

We heard this one often. What is the big deal about women carrying their own luggage? Its not as if bags and suitcases need to be hauled around like those antediluvian and monstrous holdalls from the yesteryears.

I can’t say it was entirely pleasant carrying suitcases up and down flights of steep steps but it’s all part of the experience and at no point did we need any help.

Juggling gym, children, careers, judgement and a lifetime of accumulated mental baggage and guilt can do wonders for strength and sinew.

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‘Isn’t it a waste of money?’

Well, if investing in experiences, memories, mental health is all hogwash then these endeavors most definitely are. Call it anecdotal evidence but I don’t know a single woman who can spend on herself or her needs without feeling guilty. It’s almost as if we are even ashamed of taking the small amount of space we do on the planet.

We learned to manage money from our grandmothers!

Generations of frugal women before us showed us how to ‘manage’ the home by stashing away little bundles of cash into aata dabbas or biscuit tins, under the mattress or then in between folds of starched sarees.

And never once was a dime stashed away for themselves. It was all for the home and the family. It’s about time we learn to breath and indulge without compunction or misgiving.

Look at it this way, no matter how judicious you are with your money, a lot of people will assume that as a woman you have zero sense of finances and that you spend all your money filling online carts. So tune out the world and the judgements and bring out the moolah.

Another favourite was:

 ‘Its not safe for women to travel alone.’

And you can immediately see why this one deserved a complimentary tapli on the head.

Four women traveling together is not solo trip

Four women traveling together is the antithesis of being alone. Even if women travel alone, technology has come to the rescue with reliable booking, tracking, and accessibility options available every step of the way.

Of course it is always prudent to heed common sense and avoid traipsing along strange lonely streets in the middle of the night but if the head is screwed on right and the eyes are open, these solo trips can be perfectly safe.

There are even travel companies that have created special packages for women who want to travel solo. 

Then comes the heartwrencher:

 ‘How can you leave your children/family behind?’

That’s simple. Because I don’t think of myself as someone who is neglecting her home and work just because I choose to take time off. This is a very feudal and dangerous mindset.

The ill placed burden of guilt should not be the price of a ticket to a well-deserved break. Isn’t it tiresome to forever be assessed as an individual on the barometer of our performance in some or the other relationship? Mother, sister, daughter, daughter in law, wife.

That scarcely leaves any room for personal identity and sense of self. My husband and daughter completely understand when I need to travel to spend time with family or work or sometimes to clear my head and write (who am I kidding, this last one remains a dream by one that I shall fulfil in due course).

Respecting space creates happier life

It makes for a happier family when the necessary space isn’t crowded with the suffocation of unfair expectations.

We still inhabit a world where girlfriends are being chopped up into tiny pieces over an altercation, where some are pushed off buildings for raising a voice of dissent and countless women like my very own mother have stifled their ambitions and a terribly bright future for the ‘greater good’.

Some things will improve, some won’t, but what remains a truth is that travel is a portal. It can be a soothing salve, an escape, a refresher or a window to the world.

Of course I love traveling with my family, but when I travel alone or with my girls, there is a sense of freedom, a sense of independence and unshackling that helps me stand on my feet as myself for once, without the countless strings attached.

Every bird needs her flight, and a piece of the sky.

Fly away.

Image source: Still from Jahaan Chaar Yaar, edited on CanvaPro 

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About the Author

Richa S Mukherjee

Richa is a Ted X speaker, an award-winning writer, columnist, ex-journalist and advertising professional. She has authored four books of which three are being adapted for screen. She is a blogger and travel read more...

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