Written For ParentCircle Website new design update
Have you always wanted to traverse the oceans and journey to distant lands? All you need do is take that first step, says this amazing mom who loves to travel solo
Juggling a full-time banking job and home, running around managing household chores, a working husband, and my 15-year-old daughter – this is me, Kavita Kumble, a 43-year-old mother trying to get the best of all worlds.
Growing up in Mumbai, I knew from a young age that the world was far bigger than what I saw around me. Having traveled to more than 30 countries, I aspire to explore more in the coming years.
It was 15 years ago that the travel bug bit me. I was working with a multinational private bank and handled a whole lot of interesting high net worth individual (HNI) clients from South Bombay (now, Mumbai). I would get excited listening to their interesting travel tales. I remember an instance when a client urged me: Kavita, go see the world, now that you have time. You will evolve to be a much better person. And I must admit, I decided to take his words as my gospel.
But at that time, my daughter was too young to be left alone, and I did not want to be ridden with guilt. So, I began traveling with my family, only to find out that my daughter had acute travel sickness and medicines did not help much. Hence, I ended up leaving her under my mom's loving care whenever my husband and I traveled.
Soon enough I realized I needed to get more out of life. I was getting stuck in the mundane corporate world of banking. So, around 2014, I chose to quit my job and take a short sabbatical to reconnect with all that I felt was fading in my life. That was also when I decided I need to get back to travel and use this time to the fullest. I joined a non-governmental organization (NGO), Concern India Foundation, as a fundraiser. Since I was not into a demanding job, I realized I should use this time to travel.
I did not yearn for the company and so decided to venture by myself, solo. Being raised in the conservative and protective environment of India, I knew traveling solo would not be easy. Solo trips for women are still frowned upon. Even a woman going solo on the road was unheard of. So, first, I did my fundamental research. I decided to start by going with a group of women. My daughter was 10 then and I had my mom's complete support back home. That is how I booked my first solo trip to Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Thus, I become a solo female traveler.
It was an expensive deal but I felt confident I would replenish my depleted savings once I got back to work. However, convincing people back home remained a challenge. When I mustered enough courage to share my travel plan with my husband, he immediately dissuaded me from it.
Nevertheless, I did not easily give in and worked hard to persuade him to come around. This led to several rounds of discussions, clearing his doubts, assuaging his fears. My daughter, I knew, was grown up enough to manage on her own. What's more, she was used to me being away at work.
When my husband finally realized that I was not going to relent, he finally gave in and said it was fine for me to go. However, he also kind of made it clear that this will be a one-time thing. Of course, that did not happen since then, I have gone on many more solo journeys!
My colleagues at the NGO were as, if not more, thrilled to hear about my decision to travel solo. They were equally excited and eager for my safe return with my wonderful travel tales. As the big day arrived, I was plagued with doubts and fears; I had to repeatedly calm my nerves. I had even prepared a mantra to constantly tell myself: You will do perfectly fine and so will your daughter! That trip opened my world to solo traveling. and I am now hooked on it for life.
I returned home much rejuvenated and more confident than before. I was filled with jubilation. I had done it! I traveled and managed on my own, without losing my money, passport, or luggage.
Yes, the trip turned out to be an amazing, life-changing experience. I also became part of a wonderful network of fellow women travelers. In fact, some of them have turned out to become my lifelong friends and many still remain in touch. As for my daughter, she was perfectly fine when I got back and now, she is used to my solo sojourns. She has grown up into an independent, confident and responsible youngster and manages most things on her own.
By now, you must have got a gist of how much I love traveling. Well let me tell you something, I also love planning my travels. Yes, I enjoy reading and writing blogs, flipping through guidebooks and marking out what to see and what not to miss, before I set off on my escapades. I also delight in just thinking about where I plan to stay, how I will travel and how I hope to pass the time, at any given destination. When I am done with my current job, I hope to utilize all the information that I have collected all these years. I want to start my own travel tours for all the women out there who will love to join and travel solo.
It's never too late to set off on your very own journey. And trust me when I say this, you will come out of it a happier, more fulfilled person, in a position to take charge of life on your own terms. We women wear many hats in life and it is important to take time out to connect with our own selves to keep going and stay motivated. Travel will help you leave behind a lot of your preconceived notions. It will help you juggle life better as a wife, mother, working woman and most importantly, as a human being.