What is it about “women only” travel that makes us so uncomfortable?

My Mom and I took our first trip together, just the 2 of us to Malaysia and Singapore, back in 2011. It was her first international trip and my 2nd (after my maiden official trip to Hong Kong). I had landed a plum job with a leading Investment bank and decided to splurge my first bonus pay check by travelling overseas. I could not think of a better companion than my mom.

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I wanted to manage this in a cost effective manner and hence decided to go for a Group Tour. There were a host of other travellers with us on this tour- honeymooners, families, cousins etc. People were amused to see just the 2 of us – “where is your father? Hasn’t he accompanied you?” This was the standard question we had to answer from almost everyone. As I was single at that point, there was no enquiry about my spouse.

The next trip we took together was to Kerala. I had to attend a colleague’s  wedding in Cochin and as it was a long weekend with Good Friday and the day after Easter Sunday, I thought its best to utilise this opportunity to explore Munnar and Thekdi and then attend the wedding. We were more at ease and enjoyed ourselves as it was just the 2 of us and not a “Group Tour”. We did have those curious glances though from people but not many questions on the “missing men”.

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Fast forward to 2016- my maiden trip to Europe, finally I was stepping out of Asia! A business trip to Switzerland for a month- what more could I have asked for? As my stay, tickets and expenses were being borne by my company, I took my 1.5 year old daughter and Mom along. It was quite a novel experience, not just in terms of exploring the Swiss Alps and some of the most beautiful places but also the non intrusive attitude of people. No one looked at us with amusement or asked what are 2 women with a child doing here, sans any men?

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2018 May- I went on a trip with my Mom and daughter to Kashmir. Why not the men? My dad as supposed to join us but due to some work commitments he had to change his mind. May is a very busy period for my husband at work and there was no possibility of a vacation. But May was an ideal time for us- my mom who runs a daycare had kept it closed for a week as the kids were out on summer holidays, my daughter who had just started schooling had her summer holidays and I was only too happy to take sometime off from work.

We had not even begun our sojourn and the questions popped up – just the 2 of you. Where is your husband? And where is your dad? There were also those who wished us a safe and pleasant trip and stopped at that- why cant there be more of this kind?

The most shocking incident occurred in Kashmir when our cab was stopped by some army people and we were asked to show our ID’s. The army man was peering curiously as if searching for something “Are there no men? Is it just 2 of you women?

Yes I said This is my daughter and that is my mom.

But why no men?

I just looked at him and shrugged, Was I suppose to justify why was I travelling without a man? That too to an army officer. It was the most absurd thing that I had encountered.

Not just the army guy but our shikara man (boat used to travel across the lake), caretaker on the houseboat and the various sellers who came to sell us trinkets enquired about this. The next time, get your husbands as well and you will have lot of fun they said. I wondered where was it any less fun without our men.

I would have appreciated if any of these questions were due to concerns for our safety but none of them seemed to be directed at that.

My parents share very different interests in life- my Dad is spiritual and loves to travel to Kerala or Mangalore his hometown. My mom is free spirited and loves travelling to new destinations to explore them. Travelling with Dad on his spiritual sojourns would bore her to death. Isn’t it all about doing things we love?

My grandma recently travelled to Bhutan on a “Group Tour” with some senior citizens. None of us accompanied her. This was the first time she travelled without my grandfather (he passed away 4 years ago). She thoroughly enjoyed this trip.

My sis in law drove down to Goa with 2 of her girlfriends as a part of the “Times Drive” an initiative to create awareness about breast cancer.

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One of my most treasured travel experiences till date remains my solo trip to Switzerland last year where I travelled for 2.5 months on work and used the opportunity to explore the country solo.

This post is not meant to state that we do not love to travel with our men. We love it, but we also love to travel with our girlfriends, solo and people who share similar interests like us. Why should that be thought of as being incomplete or any less fun?

I would also urge women to get out of their comfort zone. Take that solo trip or the one with your Mom or MIL, cousins or girlfriends and promise you it will teach you so many new things and it will be a fun ride. As my grandma said “The trip to Bhutan empowered me. Right from learning to use the vending machine to make my own coffee and buy things at the market, I had never done them alone. I feel a sense of accomplishment”

I cant find a better way to end that use this quote which aptly summarises the post.

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This post is published for #OpenNTalk Blogger’s League hosted by @GleefulBlogger and @WigglingPen in association with Summerbarn, Vedantika Herbals, Nyassa, Explore Kids World. 

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I would like to introduce Sayeri who is a passionate blogger and marketing professional. She blogs about fashion, beauty, parenting and makeup.

I would also like to thanks Varsh for introducing me. Varsh is passionate blogger, freelance content writer and an editor. Mother to two adorable kids, she considers herself capable of donning various hats with ease,

41 thoughts on “What is it about “women only” travel that makes us so uncomfortable?

  1. Loved your post, Akshata! Women empowerment can truly be understood by experiences like this where you’re independent, responsible and free to choose your path and make your own decisions.
    I’ve travelled a lot with family and friends, but never alone. I want to tick that off from my list. I’m sure your post is going to boost me to do it soon!

    Like

  2. I dont know why people cant take this! Independent ladies can make theor own trip without men. You have visited so many places and that is also with your Mom! You are so lucky!
    I am also very happy for taking part here in #OpeNTalk. We #BloggerBabes are the best 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful post, Akshata! It must be so special to travel with your mother. My mil is very fond of traveling, while my fil is a homing bird. So, she created her 0own friends’ group and started traveling. Now, this group of 60+ travel both in India and internationally, and have so much fun. Your post has inspired me to take a trip with my mother too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s so well written. I just kept on reading your real experiences and thought… How you felt when asked the same question again n again… And I do agree with you.. Why can’t we have fun alone… Rather any company with same thoughts are enjoyable. Great written overall. #OpenNTalk #BloggerBabes rocks always!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! Had no idea such a prejudice existed. As insane as it is I guess I am not too surprised. I actually haven’t traveled alone in India. Must do it sometime just to see what it’s like. Perhaps the girls and I will do it soon, as we have more time in May than papa does.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am very happy that you took a chance to travel solo/travel with your mom and daughter even if it seems challenging for others. You are setting a great example for those who loves to travel but always have to depend on some male companion. I am glad that this is the first topic from #BloggerBabes for #OpenNTalk

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think I was born just a bit out of time. I have no problem, other than safety, for a woman to travel alone. Same is true of a man traveling alone. Groups are better, a couple will work. I see no reason why 2 women cannot enjoy a trip.
    Scott
    also nice to see you post.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you.
        There is always the cartoon where Charlie Brown is standing with Lucy and he says, “I think I am ahead of my time.” Lucy responds with sarcasm, chewing him out for thinking how good and better he is. He continues with, “I was supposed to meet Linus here at 3:00. I think I am ahead of my time.”

        Like

  8. Loved your post Akshata! It’s a pity people still think you need a man to complete a woman and/or a family. Often when a woman is seen travelling alone with a child it is assumed that she has marital problems or is a single mother-why else would she be alone?! Yes I have heard a conversation exactly like this once when at an airport waiting to board a flight. More power to you..keep inspiring us all with your pieces

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You have brought up an important point. Maybe women alone are still seen as not BIG enough to handle things? Or is it about men the caretakers and protectors of women? I think you yourself saw the contrast in Asia and in Europe. It’s also about the culture of countries and people imbibe that. Isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. With so many differences we face as women, this is one of them. I am sure as more and more women step out and explore by themselves this will change. When I had road trip with my GFs it was the best ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hey you got to travel with one of the most esteemed friends of life-your mom. what better company would one get to. Reliving the moments with mom in the adult age would be an altogether different experience. Maybe seeing a kid along, people may have expected a male company.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You must have had splendid time and i’m sure it was fun to travel alone isn’t it ?that too spending time with your mom. I am so glad you could complete a trip without having to depend on men for anything. It is true that people look at it differently even now in this century but I am sure with passage of time things will change as you have done. #NISSATalks

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Akshata, I have always loved reading your travel stories. Be it the solo business trip to Switzerland when you had to leave your daughter at your mom’s place or the next one with your daughter with more confidence. I loved reading them all. You are an inspiration of an Independent woman.
    I agree that in India, a lady is still known by her husband’s identity though many are coming out of this shadow including me. It will take some more time to bring this change. #OpenNTalk #InvincibleGang

    Liked by 1 person

  14. We talk about women empowerment these days and yet have such thoughts in our minds. The most shocking incident was the army officials asking about men. I totally adore and respect your bond with aunty and your travel trips is hit 🙂 and gives me some boost to go with my mommy 🙂
    #InvincibleGang

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Before I go on to deliberate on some other point, I wish to share this…your Mom seems to be a “forever young lady”! She looks like your elder sis!!! Appreciate the way she has maintained herself.
    Way back in late 90’s and early 2000’s, I had to travel across India and outside for official work. I have faced skeptical faces and remarks and was bugged up with explanation that I had to furnish. I think it will take centuries for the mindset to change. Hope it changes earlier than this…for our daughters!
    But I can see the green shoot when my son pushes me to go for a solo travel.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. WOW! You are an amazing daughter to choose your mum as a co-traveller – kudos to you and her upbringing!! I completely understand how people behave towards women travelling and having fun alone. I have faced it when I went to Nepal for an assignment with another female colleague and then extended my trip for another few days. Most of them actually looked at us with weird looks – but we had fun…just like you did. Thank you for sharing such a lovely post with us. Keep writing!

    #RoarWillRock

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Wow!! You are amazing!! I love the fact that you are instilling the same spirit in your daughter by setting an example and showing that it’s totally alright to travel alone or with girlies. Your post made me crave for a solo trip. This made for a good read, Akshata. Keep travelling and keep writing.
    #roarwillrock

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I enjoy solo travels. Women should be encouraged to take trips solo or with woman gang. With Mom, outing is awesome. Mom gets a fair chance to relive her youth with her daughter and a dream is fulfilled.
    #BlogAMile #OpenNTalk

    Liked by 1 person

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