Well, let me share my story!
I have always been an avid traveller. Initially, I travelled to places near my city. Mostly for work purposes. I have visited various educational institutions. This was a decision that I had taken once I quit my full-time job in 2014. To travel to different places as much as possible. I used to set annual days of travel and ensured that I travel at least 75 days in a year. For many years, especially during the early periods of my maternity, I had limited opportunities and flexibility for travel. But, once the kids were a little grown up, I ensured that I travel as much as possible. In most cases, these travels were work-related trips, which helped me learn more about people, their behaviours and their mindsets across different places. This also helped me evolve to become aware of newer opportunities and launch new initiatives. For eg: My social venture, The Prayaana Labs was ideated during one such travel to one of the remote colleges in Kerala to conduct a soft skills workshop for girls way back in 2017. Similarly, the latest venture gogalz.com was conceptualized during one of my travels to a nature park during my second month in California.
Traveling also meant that I wanted a change of regularity. Even my work preference was something which helped me to connect to new people and visit new places. I somehow dreaded that I must go to the same office or workplace for years or have the same work timing and routine. People might call this “lack of stability”. I call it “moving out of my comfort zone”. In the long run, over the past eight years of my full-time entrepreneurship, I have evolved a lot as a person, and I attribute a lot to my travels. The travels that were initially within the city slowly moved to other districts and then to other states in India. My international trip to Geneva in 2018, after the last one in 2013, helped me to travel solo with much
confidence and to expand my horizons of activities to look at issues that I want to tackle with a global perspective. In 2019, I travel solo to Delhi to attend an event at the US Embassy. This trip was phenomenal not because of the event and meeting other social entrepreneurs but also because I came to know about the Fulbright scholarship. I was inspired by one of the officers at the US Embassy who motivated me to apply for the PostDoc. Until then, I never knew much about this scholarship, nor did I consider myself eligible for it since I was not employed full-time by any university at that time! But, yes, that one word, one push from that lady official helped me to look at that as the next step in my career. And today, as I write this piece amidst my work at Stanford University, I also understand how much my personality has evolved and opened my thoughts, perspectives, and mindset to look at much bigger global problems and also meet diverse people from across the globe.
So, if travelling helped one person like me
from an ordinary middle-class family in
the southernmost part of India to evolve as
a global citizen today, imagine the
wonders it can do, when more and more
Women’s travelling has various challenges– from safety to fear of travel to lack facilities including toilets or child care facilities, that needs to be addressed as a society. And again, we need more women entrepreneurs to solve these problems. Hopefully, in the coming decade, we will solve these challenges and help more and more women travel across the globe! I think every travel is a learning expedition by itself. Every trip helps you evolve as a person.
Travel as much as you can
Travel as widely as you can
Travel with companionship or solo
Travel when you are healthy and even if you
Travel to places which you know and do not
Travel through paths which are easy or difficult
Travel to nature and the cities
Travel to learn and unlearn
For travelling makes you wholesome
Brings laughter to life
Helps you heal your soul
And realize your true purpose!
Just a caution, some paths could be tough
and you might feel like quitting
But as you know, the toughest paths lead to
And the pain is worth the experience and
Guest Column by Dr Chandra Vadhana R
Founder, Prayaana Collective.
She is a columnist and feminist author
She can be reached at [email protected]