Not All Solo Travelling Is Fun For Women, There Are Challenges Too!

National Tourism Day 2023
In India, it is not easy to be a woman with travel aspirations, especially on the road. There are myriads of challenges for us to deal with. From safety to comfort, everything seems to be an issue of concern. Top of that, society is still not open to women travelling alone. So, the stigma attached to it makes the journey even more uncomfortable. People believe that a woman travelling alone is a loner, who is easy to prey on or judge her character.

Solo travel has its own advantages: it gives an opportunity to learn and evolve, it can aid in healing, it can be a journey of self-discovery, it can be a confidence booster, and it can be a liberating and enlightening experience. So, despite the challenges and stigma, women are picking up their backpacks and going on that much anticipated solo road trip.

Let’s take a reality check on this national tourism day. Here are stories from six women who love travelling, narrating the challenges they face during road trips.

National Tourism Day: Challenges Women Face On Solo Road Trips

“Even when travelling feels safe to me, my mind is constantly judging the men around me, from auto drivers to hotel staff. Being a solo traveller, I always have to be on my toes and keep my pepper spray handy, as it is a matter of my safety. I can even manage bathrooms, but safety is something I can never compromise on,” said Snehal Mutha, a journalist.

“I take a lot of road trips to unwind. Finding hygienic restrooms is a rarity. Most public toilets are poorly maintained, don’t have proper doors, and are sometimes used as smoking or drinking zones. So, I try to limit my liquid intake and, as a result, get dehydrated during long trips. It is so difficult to find a decent bathroom when travelling during my menstrual cycle,” said Kiruthiga Elumalai, an IT professional.

Haripriya Vinayagamoorthy, a banker, said, “Traveling as a woman comes with a lot of extra responsibilities. I have to be very alert at all times. Stopping somewhere to just experience the view or simply halting for a few minutes and relaxing with my eyes closed and legs stretched out is something that I can never do without. Having to constantly keep family and friends in the loop about my location and double check the condition of the vehicle so that I don’t end up stranded in the middle of nowhere kind of ruins the fun of solo travel itself. Also, since predators are very difficult to identify, asking for help or directions would be so difficult.”

Jemima Emanuel, an IT professional, said, “Being a female road traveller can be dangerous at times. It’s difficult, especially when taking a less-crowded route or a short cut. Sometimes random men trail behind once they realise that I’m travelling alone, and that can be quite intimidating. I would panic about a lot of “what ifs,” and that would kill the joy of travel itself.”

“Looking at the increasing rate of crimes against women, my parents are completely against the idea of my travelling by road. If they do let me go, I must adhere to curfew hours. For instance, I need to find safe lodging ahead of time and stop after late evenings. And safe places are way above my budget. But then, since it is a matter of safety, I have no choice but to pay a hefty amount just for an overnight stay,” said Lavanya Periyasamy, an IT professional.

“Going on road trips is one of my favourite things to do. Despite the numerous motels available, as a woman, safety is my primary concern. We never know which motel will provide safe accommodation and which could be a potential brothel spot. Many motels don’t have enough surveillance cameras in working condition, and that makes me feel unsafe,” said Parameshwari, an assistant professor.

According to a recent report published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, “40 percent of all single-member overnight trips in India were by women.” Gone are the days when women were confined behind closed doors. Today, women travel for work, leisure, vacation, a hobby, or just to unwind. From the opinions above, it is clear that women are concerned about two major issues: hygiene and safety. It would be fantastic if the travel and tourism departments made travelling safe and comfortable for female travellers.

Suggested reading: Five Reasons Why Women Should Go On A Solo Trip