This Monsoon, travel with the Wander Girls. Discover India while travelling solo or with other women just like you
We are great believers in the therapeutic powers of travelling solo, and recommend it to friends and family whenever we get a chance. While all travel expands horizons, travelling alone truly inspires you to reach deep within yourself and find the part that gets lost in the crowd. You are forced to look instead of talk, reflect instead of discuss and explore instead of just following a combination of mixed priorities. That is why when we heard of The Wander Girls (TWG), an organization dedicated to help Indian women travel (both solo and in groups), we needed to know more. Here’s what they told us:
On the beginning of The Wander Girls
In Hetal’s own words:
I come from a patriarchal family where every opportunity to spread my wings was initially met with resistance. Each time I struggled and found my way. In a way my travels, liberated me from the shackles placed upon me owing to my gender. As a single woman, I quickly realized that there are very limited avenues that women have for traveling by themselves and in the company of other women. I felt there was something I could do to fill in this gap by offering the relevant expertise. I founded TWG to offer a platform for women to experience the joy, learning, and, liberation, that travel offers both individually and in the company of other women. And the social and professional networking events we hold are an extension of building a community of women that can share and help each other grow.
The Wander Girl’s earliest tours were to Dapoli, Kaas & Goa, basically destinations with close proximity to Mumbai, the city they are headquartered in. On these initial tours, Hetal led the tours herself before TWG slowly started growing and added more tour managers. Today, they have tour managers from other metros including Delhi and Bangalore.
Who wanders with the Wander Girls
Most of the trip participants are professional, urban Indian women. Sometimes family members join in to tour together – mothers, daughters, sisters, or friends. But more than 90% of TWG’s travellers are solo women.
The best cities in India for solo travellers
Dharamshala and Leh, without a doubt.
Dharamshala with its breathtaking views of snowcapped mountains, beautiful monasteries, and quaint eateries is the perfect getaway for solo women travellers. Parts of Dharamshala retain a British flavour and colonial lifestyle. Dharamshala has a large presence of the Tibetan community and it’s also the adopted home of H.H. Dalai Lama. A lesser known fact about Dharamshala is the vast array of wellness spas, and yoga institutes. It’s the perfect place to practice and correct one’s yoga technique, go for long treks, eat the delicious local food, and learn how to meditate.
Leh is set against the spectacular backdrop of the majestic Himalayas, with its arid landscapes, busy markets, picturesque gompas, whitewashed stupas, fluttering prayer flags, smiling lamas, and multitude of monasteries is another beautiful desert city that would suit solo women travellers. Acclimatization is a must, and if you’ve got any medical condition, do consult your physician before you pack your bag for this one!
The best places for rain travel
TWG loves Goa in the monsoon. In the monsoon, most of the tourists have deserted Goa and the locals or travellers revel in her beauty. For most people, Goa is all about the beaches. But there’s also the majestic Dudhsagar waterfall that roars to life in this season. Then there is the beautiful Swapnagandha Valley with mist covered peaks, and the Portuguese homestays are available at throwaway prices. And then there is Kerala! Kerala is lush, green and beautiful in the monsoon too- a good time to try out the ayurvedic treatments and massages. Relaxing in a houseboat as you navigate the backwaters and catch glimpses of the lives of the local people almost makes you lose all sense of time.
What, in your vast experience, are things that girl must always pack in her overnight bag?
We are big believers of travelling light in any journey one undertakes, including the journey of life itself. Essentials for an overnight bag would be medication with prescription, toiletries and makeup in small travel jars , a small comb or hair brush, an extra pair of lenses or glasses if you wear any, an extra pair of lightweight clothes depending on the nature of the trip, and definitely an extra pair of clean undergarments since you definitely don’t want to recycle those.
TWG’s Recommended Holidays for a:
- Foodie – New York! Everything about New York is grand, including the food scene. Your taste buds will be suitably satiated no matter what cuisine you are craving. And there are options in every budget range! Chefs from all around the world are always vying to create a name and space for themselves in this metropolis, and hence a ‘foodgasm’ is always imminent in the big apple.
- Mother and Daughter bonding trip – Hong Kong it is! Skyscrapers, world class hotels, gourmet dining experiences, shopping sprees, museums, swanky shopping malls, theme parks, and proximity to stunning beaches that you can sail to for a picnic – allow for plenty of bonding opportunities for all your diverse interests.
- Adventure Junkie – The TWG pick is South Africa! In addition to the usual river rafting, paragliding, mountain climbing, bungee jumping and sky diving, there’s shark cage diving at Gansbaai in South Africa that makes for an adventure of a lifetime!
- Amateur Photographer – If you’re into birding and wildlife, Kenya is a mecca. If star trails, landscapes, and portraits are your area of interest, the team would whole-heartedly recommend Ladakh.
TWG’s Most Popular Tours
Internationally, Bhutan, Turkey, Greece, and South Africa have been extremely popular. Within India, Ladakh, Kerala and Goa are extremely popular with the Rann of Kutch garnering a significant interest of late!