I deliberately started travelling and saving money for it only three years back, when I was bored in my job and wanted to know myself better. Post the resignation, I planned my first Himalayan trek and a subsequent solo trip to Kerala. But I like to believe that these two journeys and all the others since then happened because travel became a way of life. It does not feel like something extra or out of my way. As a family, we had moved four cities by the time I was 17, and after that, I have lived in 7 more places by myself, with roommates, friends and siblings. There are just too many corners that feel like home, and sometimes none. Travelling, for me, is more about moving, being in transit or in thought, than reaching anywhere.
How travel empowered me –
Three years back, I could not have thought of sharing a hotel room with someone who I met a week ago, on a trip to Arunachal Pradesh. As we came back to Guwahati, before proceeding further to our respective destinations, both of us had an extra day that we wanted to spend relaxing. It made sense to pay half the tariff and use two single beds instead of one double. As I write this, my co-traveller whose last name is difficult to remember, and whose profession I don’t quite understand, is sleeping blissfully. I don’t know if we will talk again and how often but this ability to trust strangers and to deal with occasional mistrust is something I’ve learnt largely by venturing out alone.
The confidence increases each time I roam around my own neighbourhood, eat out on a table for one or walk aimlessly in a foreign land. Travelling solo doesn’t necessarily have to mean wandering by self, away from all other people. Although my idea of a perfect solo trip is that of a leisure, one where I plan and execute everything. I also like trips, where I am volunteering and the community becomes your family or trek with a group of strangers who turn out to be great friends by the end of the journey.
If you ask why I travel, it’s because I get to learn something new each time, about the world, society and myself. It may not always be pleasant but it pushes me to test my limits. Why else would I not take bath for 6 days, if not for low temperatures and open wash-rooms? The willingness to be in transit motivates me to act upon the plans. With each one, I become more self-aware, humble and strong. If that’s not empowerment, I don’t know what is.
Swati Saxena used to work in finance and then switched professions to travel, read, write, blog. Currently, she is working in rural India. Swati loves paper crafts and can walk miles for great coffee. You can reach out to Swati via –
Grassroutes is a social enterprise working to create livelihood opportunities for rural communities. We provide off-grid, rustic and authentic holidays with rural communities and tribes - so that people from across the world can experience Indian villages in their most authentic forms. We believe in conservation through celebration, and through our holidays, we are trying to empower rural communities to showcase their culture, lifestyles, traditions and environment to the world and find pride in it.
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