Pragya’s trip to Sawantwadi and Goa.
Break(ing) away——- & not just for a holiday***
Raised eyebrows, a quizzical look, and suspicion in the eyes… I am getting used to these reactions that are generated by an innocuous “Yes, I am travelling solo” statement generates.
Being in a job that demands its fare share of travel across the country, travelling had become more of a chore for me, something of a necessary evil to earn my bread. Until I had a dream. A dream of being on a Goa beach feasting on sea food. Over the last year, this dream became an obsession which had to be realized. The operative word being “solo travelling”. Thus began the search for someone who could plan and arrange my travel within my means. Every tour package that I came across was tailored for two as if there are no people wanting to travel on their own! One or two travel agencies that I contacted quoted such exorbitant amount that I would have had to sacrifice a year’s salary. “Aap single hai na, isliye zayada cost aayega madam”. My hunt finally took me to Break-away. As the talks between us progressed, there was only one question in my mind “Why did I not think of them before”. They had after all arranged my first break-away.
My sole aim was going to Goa when the discussion ensued. But by the end of the final discussion I was a convert for going to a “hidden gem in Maharashtra (about 75 kms away from Goa) called Sawantwadi as well and all in the same cost! Best part being the Breakaway team has NEVER even gently suggested me to travel with someone else to being down the cost.
Since for me doing things solo is no big deal and my being born a female an accidental combination of the chromosomes (A happy combination I must say) I have never given much thought tailor made planning for solo women travellers. Whatever a man can do I can do it much better. Alas, in my enthusiasm to travel, I was blinded to the social context that I was rooted in. Safety & security for a single traveller in general & single woman traveller does become a prime concern, especially in a place, she’s not familiar with. This I realized only after I landed for my holiday in Sawantwadi & Goa. But again, I might have forgotten but Breakaway team did not.
Right from arranging for the taxi pick up to the properties I stayed in….. customised planning for a solo woman traveller was the essence. The in charge of the taxi company not only provided the taxi but also constantly follow up with me through SMS from the time I boarded the flight to the time I came back to Delhi. If this wasn’t enough (and very refreshing too. After all how many taxi company owners constantly inquire after your well being and needs?), there were other things that seemingly are minor but go a long way in making a trip a safe and memorable one. For one Breakaway made me stay in a property run by a woman my age who was far too caring about my food needs. I was also my Sawantwadi trip Coordinator, who not only made me see the “hidden gems” and wonderful sights that the rural hinterland of Maharashtra has but very patiently waited for my taxi at the Sawantwadi bus Stand for hours at end ( My flight got unduly delayed from Delhi) without even complaining once. Waiting for me in order to guide the taxi to the properly where I was suppose to stay was beyond his call of duty but he still did it and that too with a smile on his face. Believe me I would not have been able to find the property ever if it was not for him.
Breakaway’s mission “Holiday Security for Pragya” did not stop at Sawantwadi which was a rural area but extended to Goa as well. Meticulous planning was done to ensure hotel nearest to the beach & amidst hustle & bustle of city life so that I don’t have to go far for either the beach or food (You see I was a budget traveller who could not afford to take taxis or ride the most popular vehicle on hire, the scooter and the motor-bikes).
Breakaway has a team of fantastic people who understand the needs of their customers, solo women travellers in particular. Shilpa & Asawari give the who travel a gender perspective and Rahul beings in his experience of handling IVO volunteers all over the world: VSO Volunteers are people with severe budget constraints away from family in a different country
Sawantwadi & Goa trip was not only a break-away from the rut of home- office- home but a break-away in a true sense of the impression that solo travel for women is risky and fraught with dangers……. Next time someone cautions you against solo travelling, don’t listen to them. Just call Breakaway.
***The above post has been submitted to us by Pragya Mishra, our very first traveller, over email.