A collection of anecdotes by individuals, just like us, doing what they love
You've had varied experiences in terms of your career in the last couple of years. Could you tell our readers about it?
I was keen on being in the media industry so I started working with Rajasthan Patrika as soon as I got the opportunity after graduation. But, very soon I came to realise I wanted to travel. Within 8 months I quit my job and began travelling. While travelling, I started writing poems, clicking pictures and shooting videos of my journey. After I came back, I wanted to get back to work and started working at a school as ‘mother teacher’ for Grade 2 students.
I found the job of a teacher very challenging. Kids are very easily distracted with easy access to gadgets and the internet - teachers always have to be on their toes when it comes to information. I began to realise that children in India do not get any real time to think about themselves and to explore the physical world around them - this thought troubled me. So, soon I began planning my next trip for the summer of 2015. While I was planning my trip, a few of my girlfriends asked me if they could join me. They wanted to get out of their comfort zones and felt more comfortable doing it with me - since I had experience travelling alone.
What led to the formation of Travel My Ladies?
When my friends first asked to join me on my trip in 2015, it was clear to me that for most Indian women it’s difficult to think about travelling on your own. I, on the other hand, had started travelling at a very young age as my father was in the army. Growing up, I saw so many girls from other countries travelling alone and was inspired to do this as well. I started doing some research on travel platforms for women in India and I didn't find any organisations that specialised in women group travel in India.
That was the moment I began working on a travel platform for women and girls - a platform that would exclusively cater to their travel needs. I understood women are restricted by household responsibilities and hence aren't getting time for themselves. And, even when they traveled with family, they wouldn't get time off for themselves. Most of the time they would be busy making sure the needs of other family members were being met. I wanted to do something for women travel in my own way and hence I launched Travel My Ladies.
How are you overcoming these apprehensions to convince people to use this service?
Travel is a life changing experience. It goes beyond just sightseeing. Breaking stereotypes associated with women travelling alone with respect to the Indian social & cultural context hasn’t been easy. I spend a lot of time talking to women one-on-one and I frequently give talks in women's institutes, schools and colleges. I try to explain the importance of having independence and rejuvenating yourselves.
I often notice – that when I share my solo travelling stories with my family and friend circles, most of the men take it casually - they nod and say "That's good". But on other hand women have a lot of curiosity. Women want to know about the details of the journey and challenges of overcoming interesting situations. They always conclude by saying that they envy me - and wished they could do the same. Most women really want to get out of their comfort zones and take time to see the world. They just need someone to help them take the first step and, of course, some encouragement from their families goes a long way!
How are you running your business?
I work on Travel My Ladies full-time. I am very lucky to have supportive parents; I would not have been able to take on this venture without them. My girlfriends are constantly helping me out. They take time out after their work and help me plan the whole itinerary in advance for our trips. We worked together to get a platform online for people to register and travel with us. We are currently doing one trip per month and targeting 10 people per trip. All trips are guided by me. We plan to eventually begin weekend and festival trips too. In the next 5 years, we hope to be operating from other cities in India. I'd like to make travel one click away for women.
What have been your biggest learnings as Founder of Travel My Ladies?
My biggest learning till now has been that nothing is impossible if you’re deeply committed and passionate about your work.
What keeps you motivated?
Travel My Ladies is my passion. I want every woman to experience the amazing feeling I get when I travel. Every time I give a talk, I can see women getting motivated and excited to travel for themselves. They appreciate the idea of Travel My Ladies and show keen interest in travelling and in discussing it with their respective families. Many of them are now joining us on our next trip in May and June.
Moreover, the feedback we receive from women who’ve travelled with us is what keeps us going. They tell us they feel liberated and have developed new perspectives. In fact one of the women said that travelling gave her the strength to voice her personal opinions and thoughts. The trip helped her develop courage to take decisions on her own.
Laxmi's story is one of following a passion and discovering new opportunities along the way! Alterbeat wishes her all the best in her endeavours.
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