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Do you remember the famous line from Julia Roberts starrer movie 'Monalisa Smile'? - "Not all those who wander are aimless". Also, did it ever occur to you that people, women, in particular, might have several reasons to travel across the world? Simply for a sense of independence, fulfilment or escape.
They choose to go alone in the pursuit of adventure, independence, feeling of personal fulfilment, individuality and escape.
Therefore it is not strange if a woman wants to travel alone. Right?
In an exclusive interview with Boldsky, Sofia Naz (28), a writer and travel blogger from West Bengal's Chandannagar shares her thoughts about being a solo traveller herself and the challenges, she has to face for being one.
While speaking to us, she says, "There are various myths about women who go on solo trips. But it never stops me from travelling alone and explore places on my own. I love going on solo-trips and this makes me feel rejuvenated."
People always warn me about travelling alone, says Sofia with a laugh. "I have heard people saying, 'Why are you travelling alone? What if somebody takes advantage of you?"
No one can predict what will happen to them the very next moment, so why should we always live in fear and constant worry when nothing is in our hands? "I want to make my life enriching with experiences and travel is the best way to do that", adds Naz.
There are infinite prejudices against women solo travellers, we have listed 6 of them to give you a fair idea about the challenges and issues women face merely for travelling.
1. She Must Be Quite Rich
When people see women solo travellers paying their bills, going out on their own, getting things that they love to do for themselves; they are quick to assume it is because either she or her family members are quite rich.
Though this might be true, some women also work hard and save their hard-earned money to travel around the world.
Sofia says, "People sometimes ask me from where do you get so much money? How do you manage expenses? Some also think I am quite rich. But the thing is, I save money and strictly follow my financial plans so that I can travel more".
2. She Is A 'Morally Loose" Woman
This is a century-old problem. If a woman doesn't listen to certain people then they tend to have a notion that she is a 'morally loose' women. Also, women need to be under constant surveillance when they go out and has to be accompanied by a male companion, preferably father or brother. Reason being people around you are worried about your safety.
Looks like women wanting to travel alone doesn't count at all in the first place. People are quick to detect a woman's character and without a second thought, they start judging them because of their gender.
A woman who is not accompanied their husband while travelling means she is involved in multiple illicit affairs. We are not saying, but most people say so and this becomes really challenging for women solo travellers.
"Things can be tough for women solo travellers at times. Sometimes, people might not help you as they will doubt you. At times, the patriarchal mindset can be a reason why some people behave so", mentioned Sofia.
3. She Must Have Liberal Parents
Whether or not women solo travellers have cool and liberal parents, people often consider that they do. Most of the people also feel that these solo travellers do not have to convince their parents.
"We women know that safety comes first. Before I go on a solo trip, I need to do proper and extensive research about hotels, routes, food, climate, and many other things. But even after having everything sorted, stepping out is not that easy," said Sofia.
These women also undergo the struggle of convincing parents to let them go on solo travel. "Though my parents are quite understanding and supportive, I need to ensure them that I will be safe and they do not have to worry. As they are my parents, they are always concerned about me, especially when I go on solo trips."
"Convincing family is not a big issue. The issue is after getting married, most of the women sacrifice their dreams or might give up. But I am quite lucky to have convinced my in-laws and husband to allow me to live for my dream to travel," added Sofia.
4. She Doesn't Have Any Responsibilities
Some people judge the carefree and playful nature of women solo travellers and think that they fear responsibilities. People might think these women are free from all kinds of responsibilities and have no family to look after.
Sofia says, "Travelling has nothing to do with fulfilling responsibilities. Moreover, there are people who themselves don't understand their responsibilities towards their families. These people will waste their money on excessive shopping, parties and drinking. They do not quit these habits easily and therefore, their family members suffer. At least solo travellers return back to their home to resume their work and other family responsibilities."
Obviously, women solo-travellers have a family to look after them and like other people, they too have bundles of responsibilities as well. It is just that these women spare some time to spend with themselves and explore new places.
5. She Is Extrovert And Outspoken
Since the women solo-travellers take charge of themselves throughout the journey, it is believed that they are quite extroverts and have an outspoken behaviour. But it is not like that.
"As women are travelling alone, they need to be careful about themselves. They need to take appropriate action if something goes wrong," adds Sofia.
6. She Might Have Eloped
This is one of the most bizarre myths about women who travel solo. People think these women to have eloped from their family or from their marriage.
"Yeah, I have seen people thinking in this manner, thanks to the patriarchal mindset. But my question is- why do you need to run from your family? Just tell them you want to go on a trip and explain to them how you will be managing things on your own. My parents know I am brave and independent and therefore, they allow me to go. Hence, I never elope," laughed Sofia.
"I would love to see more and more women breaking the glass ceiling and travel on their own. Women need to understand their responsibilities and become brave. Go on solo trips, explore yourself and find yourself", said Sofia with a smile.
Travelling alone is indeed a way of exploring ourselves and there is definitely no wrong in this. It is just in our head. So what are you waiting for? Choose a destination, pack your bags and let yourself witness the thrill.