Do Women Solo Travellers Prefer All-Women Groups Over Mixed Ones?

I asked a few women who have travelled alone about their experiences. I analysed how women are not letting restrictions bind them. Rather, they are reclaiming their freedom and encouraging other women too to experience solo travelling.

Rudrani Gupta
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Travelling alone as a woman is still a privilege. Whenever I talk about going to movie theatres alone, people raise their eyebrows and ask, "Weren't you afraid?" However, I surprised them even more by travelling alone to Mysore and Coimbatore. My travel to Mysore was restricted to one day but the peace and joy it gave me will last forever. In all my solo travels, I never felt unsafe. I went with a group but I was so lost in myself that I rarely cared about my surroundings. I was out and alone for the first time and all I could think about was my freedom. But not all women have the same experience. Some are lucky enough to enjoy their solo trips while others fall prey to patriarchal demons. 


Do Women Solo Travellers Fear Travelling Alone?

Recently, a Spanish woman who was out on a bike tour with her husband was gangraped while her stay in Jharkhand's Dumka. Then a South Korean vlogger was harassed in Pune while she was filming a video and interacting with the locals. Rajasthan man flashed at Korean tourist. A British woman was groped by a local man and the woman ended up saying, "If you come to India, expect to be manhandled and groped.”

However, the Spanish woman said that she doesn't regret coming to India. She said, "I think everyone in the world expects me to say 'Don't go to India', but life is far more complicated than that. What happened to me in India could have happened anywhere else." However, she did say that if women step out and travel alone, they need to take some precautionary measures. 

In 2020, a global index named the Women's Danger Index declared India as the ninth most dangerous country for women solo travellers.

Are Situations In India Stopping Women From Travelling Alone?

But are these reports and findings stopping women from travelling alone? Is the lack of safety making women insecure and quit the dream of solo travelling? Apparently, no. I asked a few women who have travelled alone about their experiences. And I could conclude that women are not letting any restrictions bind them. Rather, they are reclaiming their freedom and encouraging other women too to experience solo travelling.


Let's dig into the conversation

Charvi Kathuria, a 29-year-old Linkedin Growth Specialist, loves travelling. Solo travelling was always on her bucket list and now she is accomplishing it like a pro. "I feel absolutely safe while travelling alone," Charvi said adding that she always travels with women-only groups. She hasn't travelled with a mixed group yet. But why? Charvi said, "I would prefer women-only groups over mixed groups for safety issues." She further added, "I feel I will be more comfortable in travelling and opening up with women than with men. There is a feeling of sisterhood you get when you travel with women from all walks of life and learn so much from them." 

Charvi feels that she will always keep her guard up, end up pointing out sexist slurs and hence won't enjoy the trip if she goes with a mixed group.

Similarly, Simran Nangia, a 28-year-old teacher, prefers all-women groups for solo travelling and has never been anywhere with a mixed group. Even though she always remains cautious of her surroundings, the all-women groups she has gone on trips with always made her feel safe and secure. "I would always prefer all-women groups because I genuinely believe in female friendships. You can share your emotions freely with them and they are empathetic towards you as compared to men."

Soma Dhar, a 40-year-old banker, too feels safe in solo travelling as far as it is with an all-women group. She said, "I felt very relaxed and enjoyed a lot as all the arrangements were made by the trip coordinator. All the girls in the group became friends. Although, I was a bit protective while trekking as you are on your own." 

Women Who Travelled With Mixed Groups


Now let us turn to women who have been on solo trips with mixed groups. Kanika Cairae, a 35-year-old founder of a women's travel community, has travelled with mixed groups. She said, "I enjoyed my trip and the men also behaved well. However, I was alert enough to limit my words, talk carefully and yes I was alert throughout the trip." Kanika confessed that she wasn't as comfortable with the mixed groups as she was with the all-women group. She said, "In all-women groups, we meet like-minded female travellers, can open up easily, we don't have to think twice before speaking and can share our heart out." 

Kanika also focuses on sisterhood and says, "The best part of women-only trips is that we create sisterhood, we meet strangers, we share together, we explore, laugh, cry and come back rejuvenated." It was her experience with women-only groups that led her to create the women's travel community. 

Hinna K Mendiratta, a Communication Coach, considers solo staycation as the "perfect gateway for health, joy, peace of mind, free from social obligations and no social pressure." It is the "perfect self-care gift to oneself", Hinna said. Hinna has been on vacations with mixed groups too several times and had wonderful experiences. However, she said that the experience was good because she "knew all of them since they were friends and family with spouses and children." "I have never had mixed group experience with strangers" 

Puja Kumari, a Software Engineer, has also gone on solo trips with mixed groups and with men. But her experience was not good. She said, "Whenever I used to go out with office people, I was always alert. They used to drink a lot which made me even more careful about my safety." She also recalled another incident in which the cab driver who was actually the owner started flirting with her. "He asked me to sit in the front seat alongside him. He even texted me constantly after the trip was over." 

On the other hand, Titiksha Kashyap, a 26-year-old PR Professional, has a different point of view. She has gone to many places alone in mixed groups. Recalling her experiences, she said, "I felt relaxed and comfortable. I enjoyed my time. There are some basic precautions that you have to take like an anti-theft bag, locking your gadgets and money, always sharing your location and trip details with someone, not eating or roaming with strangers you haven't interacted with etc. But these precautions one must follow irrespective of the type of group." 

Titiksha further shared that men in her group were "absolutely gentlemen". She said, "They took care of me, never made me feel uneasy, had fun with me, shared stories and whatnot. We had some difference of opinions but not every human thinks alike or is perfect." After having a lot of experience in solo travelling, Titiksha said that she would not prefer all-women group for travelling. "I have my reservations and experience. I do not get along with women much. I have a lot of male friends and only a few girlfriends." She goes on to say," I cannot put up with tantrums of women, pampered girls and their soft nature. I do not like such sensitive and touchy people and I have come across such women only." 


Different women had different experiences. Some found solace in sisterhood, some felt comfortable in male friendships while others like me didn't care about anything beyond my peace and introspection. But one thing is common among every type of traveller- precautions for safety. No matter who is accompanying a woman on a trip, the woman should always be alert. In a world that is not an all-women group, we have to adjust to the heterogeneity and this adjustment needs to be made by all genders. Sure, women can choose to go on solo trips with all-women groups, but the fear of safety when it comes to mixed-group doesn't reflect complete autonomy. The blame lies in the patriarchy that considers every woman as a sex object or second sex. But can we wait until patriarchy dies out to accomplish our dreams? No right?

If women are reclaiming their freedom by doing the most daunting thing, they shouldn't be pushed back by anything. They have to be prepared for any situation because like-mindedness and comfort are fleeting subjects. 

Women who travel alone are the inspiration for many women around the globe. However, if women travellers do not overcome the gender barriers- the biggest fear of other women- will they pave paths for others? I am not saying that preferring all-women groups for travelling is wrong. However, breaking gender barriers, confronting men or creating a space of comfort with other genders are also vital lessons of life if a woman wants to survive on her own.

Views expressed are the author's own

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