It is 2020 and we live in the times of social media! Travel is the new cool and if we observe the trends, there are more Indian women travelling now, than in the last 20-30 years. Not just with their spouses or their families, but also with their girl friends and even solo.
We got in touch with some people from the travel industry about the same and spoke to young entrepreneur Neeraj Narayanan. Captain Nero, as he is known to his legions of followers, quit his job in 2013 to travel the world. A MICA alumnus, Neeraj was working in a travel startup in 2011-13, before he quit and set forth to pursue his dreams. A year later, he started the travel company On His Own Trip. The brand conducts group trips for young adults (from ages 16 – 45) all across India, Asia and Europe with plans to expand their trips to South America and Africa in the near future.
On asking Neeraj what he thinks about the growing number of women travellers in India, he nods his head enthusiastically. “Look all around you. Malavath Poorna, the youngest girl and youngest Indian to climb Mount Everest, is a young girl from Andhra. Arunima Sinha is the first female amputee to scale Everest. The Malik sisters, Tashi and Nungshi, became the youngest twins in the world to summit the highest peaks of all seven continents. It is incredible what Indian girls are achieving in the world of travel and adventure” . He goes on to tell how a lot of India’s top travel bloggers are women and rattles off names like Shivya Nath, Neelima Vallangi, Laxmi Sharath.
We ask Neeraj about the percentage of women travelling with his brand, and he tells us “About 65 percent of my trippers are women. And a high percentage of them come solo”. We ask him how come there are so many women travelling on his trips, and he gives an interesting perspective. “Firstly, its social. In India, women have been largely confined or restricted in different ways. A girl’s need for liberty, for freedom, for her own space is perhaps a little more than a man’s. So when she sees the chance to travel, she wants to just set off by herself and see the world on her own terms. Some girls aren’t sure of immediately travelling all alone, so they take the next best possible option, to travel with strangers in a safe group. And once they gain confidence from that, they then plan to go on their own solo trips”.
Doesn’t it affect your business if they go off solo and won’t do more trips with you, we ask him slyly and he laughs. “Well that’s alright, as long as we can be a tiny part of the process in helping someone gain a little more confidence and go pursue their dreams, it can’t be too bad a thing”, he says.
Neeraj tells us that the girls on his trips aren’t just coming from the metro cities. He speaks affectionately of two young girls just out of their teens, travelling all the way from Chhattisgarh to do a two day weekend group trip with him in Kerala. “It’s heartening to see all these young girls coming from Raipur and Sangli and Meerut and Amravati! It’s heartening to see that girls as young as 16-17 are coming on our trips and treks and going back with so many memories and a desire to push themselves even more in the future. It is amazing to see that when I put up an Annapurna Base Camp 12 day trekking trip, the first five bookings were all girls”.
Interestingly, Neeraj Narayanan’s brand On His Own Trip has more girl trip leaders than boys. “Niyati, Sakshi, Shazia, Pooja all used to be my trippers. Pooja first came with me to Bhutan when she was just 17, and today she is just 21 and has already lead trips for us!”
Niyati Saxena was a practising lawyer who quit her job to join On His Own Trip full time. Similarly Sakshi Pant too was a software engineer, who gave it up to become a trip leader with On His Own Trip. They are confident, happy girls leading trips full of men and women through mountains, jungles, islands and more!
It is 2020 and we live in the times of social media! But we are also progressively living in the times of more and more women confidently choosing to live life on their own terms!