Travel is freedom. It is no surprise that women – no matter what part of the planet they are heading to – are often advised to think twice before they travel. Plenty of warnings about safety concerns women travelers face will flood your consciousness (and inbox) once you share your travel plans with people. My advice: take the useful tips with you. Dump the paranoid ones. Best to travel light!
Once your heart is set on making a journey, never let the deep-seated prejudices against women who are blessed with wanderlust stop you from exploring the world.
Growing up, I remember reading any number of stories in which the hero sets sail – or hops on a flight or train – to faraway lands where he goes on to have exciting adventures. Whether I was reading a classic or a more modern piece of literature, travel and its delights – connecting with new cultures, making unexpected discoveries about the world at large, immersing yourself in unfamiliar sights and sounds – almost always seemed to be the hero’s preserve. The stories I read teemed with men who were valorized for their travels. Women’s journeys were hardly written about. Poets did not compose odes to them. Singers did not serenade them. Historians did not hail their journeys as milestones in the march of civilization.
Whether they were written about or not, many women travelers have been exploring the world and charting their own course across it since the beginning of time. They may have been marginalized once, but things are definitely looking up today as women travelers write about their travels themselves, sharing their experiences with the world through blogs, essays, and books. Their accounts are inspirational, informative, exciting. Read them and you will want to spread your wings and fly.
Whenever I travel, I am lucky enough to run into other women who are bitten by the travel bug. Some of them are seasoned travelers. Others have just begun exploring the immense possibilities of journeys. All of them have stories to tell: amusing anecdotes, moments of delight and doubt they have lived through, travel epiphanies that broadened their horizons and literally changed their lives. I treasure the stories they have shared with me. They are a gift I cannot put a price on.
Next on my travel agenda is a boat trip down the Mekong River. The Mekong, Asia’s third longest river, stretches from Vietnam to the Gulf of Thailand. It waters Vietnam’s “rice bowl” and is a vital transport route for the entire region. The waters are filled with floating markets, sampans, ferries and rowing boats, and teeming with color and life. If time and my budget permits, I’ll be floating down the Mekong soon – a journey full of promise.
What’s on your list next?
Vineetha Mokkil is a writer and traveler currently based in New Delhi, India. She is the author of the short story collection “A Happy Place” (HarperCollins, April 2014). Her first novel is in the pipeline