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A girly trip - Times of India

Imagine this – giggling away like little girls well past midnight, shopping as though there was no tomorrow, togging up in outfits that have stayed locked in the bed box for ages, finding soulmates in a group of strangers and having just ‘me-time’ on the to-do list.

Now, if all this sounds like a dream, then, wake up and pack your bags, for it’s time to turn it into a reality! Yep, ask women who’ve been on a holiday with just the girlie brigade and they’ll give you enough reasons to tempt you to venture out for some ‘girl fun’ this summer! With travel clubs and groups organising ‘women only’ trips and the ladies grabbing the chance to indulge in some adventure, there’s no reason why you should be staying back. Right? Here’s a peek into all the fun that awaits you!

 

For and by women

Piya Bose, founder, Girls On The Go, an adventure club, and a lawyer, who has been travelling solo since she was 16, quit her job in 2007 to form this club. “I had noticed that it was mostly women from the West who travelled alone or with their women friends,” Piya explains the reason for forming the club. Chips in Shireen Mehra, director, Women On Clouds, another travel club, “I had a great time when I first explored the idea of going to Camp Red Stone, Dehradun, on a holiday with my girl friends last year.” As for Veena Patil, CMD, Kesari – My Fair Lady, another such travel group, she began by chalking out a list of what women would like to do or what they couldn’t because of customs and other taboos. And in 2006, she decided to start the group to help women live their travel dreams. “Many women thought I was lucky for I got a chance to travel because of my travel writing. I realised they had the inclination and the time, but factors like security, companionship etc. held them back. So, I got working to give them a chance to get lucky too!” says Sumitra Senapaty, founder, Women On Wanderlust (WOW), another travel club, which was formed almost three years ago.

 

We want to break free!

These trips are popular because more and more women are getting economically independent. “It can be reasons as simple as a wish to wear a swimming costume, a pair of denims, a skirt or to just dance with abandon. Many women miss out on such moments because they find it embarrassing to do what they please back home,” Veena is candid. “It’s all about girl bonding,” Smriti, a CA, who went on a trip to Singapore last year, gives another reason. “The essence of such trips is that they let you be yourself,” smiles Piya. “On my first all-girl trip, we had a blast. We would just talk, let loose and go crazy. It truly brought out the real person in us,” smiles Shireen. “With such groups, one doesn’t have to wait for a husband or a friend or the vacations of the kids to begin, to go on a holiday,” states Sushmita Sharma, a homemaker. “For a change, you don’t go as a wife, a sister, a daughter or a mother. There are just no strings attached,” enthuses Sumitra. She chirps, “The trend has been a hit and has seen a lot of growth.” Adds Asmeeta Jacob from Travel Smart, another adventure group, “The trend began to catch on in the last five-six years, with approximately a 20 per cent rise every year as far as my group is concerned.”

 

What's age got to do with fun?

“I’ve seen women over 55 putting teenagers to shame with their zest for adventure,” says Shireen. “It’s as much fun for a 16-year-old as for a 65-year-old,” says Piya, while adding, “The itinerary is so designed that it suits the interests and fitness levels of all the members.” Smiles Sahiba Khosla, 21, “When I went to Kerala last year, I became friends with a 53-year-old lady.” Agrees Sumitra, “It’s amazing how everybody bonds on such trips and many become friends for life.”

 

What’s in store?

“The perspective of a woman on holiday is different from that of a man,” points out Piya. “Exploring the culture, just unwinding, be it at a spa or going for soft adventure is what they love.” Says Isha, 27, an MBA working in a bank, “I like a mix of the usual and unusual. Parasailing in the morning and shopping in the evening is perfect.” Adds Veena, “We try to reserve the evenings for cruise dinners, fashion shows or even dandiya nights.” Sumitra makes sure that the women get to enjoy some activities unique to the place they are visiting – it could be digging into the local cuisine, enjoying indigenous music or dance.

 

For one and all

“Many people have this misconception that only single or divorced women join these tours,” says Piya. “But the truth is women from all walks of life like to travel, may it be housewives, professionals, doctors, engineers, teachers, students or even farmers,” informs Veena. And while some come with a friend in tow, many just want to make new friends.

“A lot of them want to holiday with strangers,” let in Shireen. “We’ve had sisters and saas-bahus travelling too,” reveals Veena. “Some manage to pull in a friend or a relative. But, most of them come by themselves. That is what these trips are all about,” enthuses Sumitra.

 

The men behind the adventure

“Seven per cent of the calls we get are made by the husbands and another five per cent by male friends of single women, for getting their travel plans in place,” lets in Piya. “A husband called up on Women’s Day to gift his wife a holiday,” recalls Shireen. “Many a times these trips are a gift to the women from their hubbies or family members,” chips in Veena. “Of late, husbands have been buying surprise holiday packages for their wives. Yet, most common is daughters doing it for their mothers,” says Sumitra. “At the same time it’s nice to see women taking the initiative themselves to break away from the routine,” adds Asmeeta.

 

Safety comes first

“For first-timers, safety is the biggest concern. We never let the girls go alone, they are always escorted by some members from the group,” says Shireen. “Also, we make sure that the hotels that the women stay in and even the cabs they take are safe,” she adds. “I accompany the women on all the tours. And we plan a trip to have loads of fun,” says Veena. “There aren’t many security issues, because there is security in numbers ,” reasons Sumitra. “I have never felt unsafe on such tours and my parents too have been okay with the idea,” says Sahiba.

Bon voyage!

It’s a woman’s world

What’s the pull? Freedom, stress-busting exercise, an ego boost, self-development, education-cum- fun, ‘me-time,’ making new friends, rediscovering yourself, just shopping. Fave destinations: Kerala, Ladakh, Rajasthan, Sikkim ,Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Australia, Switzerland, Italy, Thailand, Mauritius, Malayasia, Dubai, Singapore and Europe.

Duration: Short breaks of two/three nights, domestic holidays for five to eight days, international holidays for about seven to ten days.

Nature of trips: Cultural tours, soft adventure, biking trips, safaris, cruises, beach holidays etc.