Asserting her right to entertainment-enriched solo traveling, Reeti Trivedi Pandharipande, a lecturer of English and Mass Communication, a journalist and an eminent contributor to New Delhi-based Outlook Traveler Guide shares her experiences and passion for travel. Reeti has been an avid traveler, mountains being her true calling. She believes “Travel is as much about the people you meet as it is about the sights you see”.
1. What fascinates you the most when u travel?
Discovering something new about the world and myself and of course meeting people. Although I have travelled extensively in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh, I have always sought a new experience every time. From staying with the shepherds on a secluded mountain top to being hosted by a member of Kashmiri royalty in his family owned heritage hotel, from living out of tents or experiencing the humble charm of a home stay, I have accumulated a wealth of memories and friends. So, travel helped me make friends, discover a hidden side of the world and a hidden side of myself as well. I could step out of my comfort zone and push myself.
2. Being a woman, are there any precautionary steps that you take before planning your trip?
I love to take solo trips. I have travelled to London for a month, stayed, worked and travelled in Himachal for 40 days, done a project in rural Orissa, and explored forests around my city. Here are a few ways in which you can minimize the risk:
– Keep your wits about yourself and trust your instincts.
– Before travelling to a new place ask around among your friends and acquaintances if they have visited it and/or have any local contacts or references.
– A continued enquiry about the weather, places to stay, see, eat, etc, is essential before you go.
– Try connect to locals there, sometimes a local recommendation can reveal a hidden gem.
– Try and understand the culture and local customs of the place you plan to travel. While travelling, be in your most comfortable outfit.
– While the jewellery-laden look is a strict no-no, something discreet such as a delicate gold ring or small earrings can serve as your last insurance in case of an emergency.
– If travelling by bus, always prefer picking a state owned/public bus. It’s actually safer. More and more buses now have a wi-fi in place, try to look for those.
3. How has travel empowered women?
Any education empowers. And I believe travel is the best kind of education. I am only glad that women can finally be out there and learn. By travelling you not only learn about the world around you but also yourself. Your limitations suddenly dawn upon you and you also learn how to push those limits. These limits come in many forms like food, toilets, your own bed and getting along with all kinds of people. Overcoming all these things means empowerment to me. Although travel empowers you from within it also humbles you in many ways. Life in the cities, in our comfort zones has made all of us very self absorbed. But when you are out there struggling with your limitations, you realise you are just a grain of sand.
4. How do you manage Physical health difficulties while travelling.
I was travelling in Spiti when I got infection under my molar cap. We were in Tabo where there was only a primary health centre, and thankfully, a doctor too. But, you never know what might happen to you at the oddest place. Carry a first-aid kit as a precautionary major. Another thing that travelling women cannot escape is periods. My suggestion: A menstrual cup, which is a relatively new female hygiene product can come in quite handy during long travels.
5. Which mode of transport do you prefer travelling by and why?
Nothing preferred as such, whatever mode of transportation takes me where I want to go. Anything and everything, from walking to flying! You just have to be aware and informed.
6. How do you plan your trip?
I do not always like to have a very fixed itinerary and I also like to experience places that are off the regular tourist map. However, in the planning stage, I do consult some travel websites such as lonely planet and TripAdvisor as they have lots of advice and recommendations and often have peer reviews that are very helpful.
Then there are two Manali-based firms and a Leh-based firm that are my choice. They are Indian Himalayan Excursion in Manali, Himalayan Caravan, Manali and Adventure Infinite Treks and Tours, Leh. The Leh firm is also the logistics partner of La Ultra – The High, the famous high altitude marathon in Ladakh. All the above mentioned firms collaborate with each other. All of them are experienced trekkers, climbers and skiers and have a lot of experience, excellent equipment and dedicated support staff. Most importantly, their companies are environmentally-conscious. They have utmost respect for the terrain they trek in and make every effort to maintain its pristine nature.