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Vivacity

Be a lone wanderer

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Be a lone wanderer
It's time to go single and explore hidden destinations around the world on your own. Many travel companies are now curating and customising value-driven travel packages for solo travellers. By Rupinder Kaur
 
The tweets and statuses range from “need a break”, “wish I could just go away” to posting pictures from your previous vacations with #throwbackthursday on Instagram. Some links to “Ten places to visit before you die” or maybe “Seven pick trips for a long weekend”, open on your desktops while you text some folks asking whether they are up for a quick getaway. Suggestions pour in, but the dates might not match or there is no consensus on the destination picked. In the end, it is just the screensaver of the sun-kissed golden beaches or snow-capped mountains that you need to make do with. 
 
Or maybe one needs an escape from those family trips with the antakshari-singing, colour-coordinated clothes (so no one goes missing), while the teens sit sulking somewhere at the back of the mini vans.Travelling on your own, on the other hand, might have crossed your mind but you brushed it aside. But online travel companies 
 
like MakeMyTrip, Yatra.com, Wetravelsolo, et al. are encouraging those consumed by wanderlust to go solo and also design or curate their trips. Sharat Dhall, President of Yatra.com feels that solo travel is a rising trend in India. “People here have become extremely independent, adventurous and outgoing. It is extremely encouraging to see this category growing exponentially. Keeping the trend in mind, Yatra does offer packages for people who wish to travel alone to various destinations and we also customise packages as per individual requirements,” he shares.
 
The choice of destination is dependent on the frame of mind as well as the reason for the trip, he adds. “We also see a lot of demand for people travelling for spiritual purposes to places like Rishikesh, Varanasi, Bengaluru and Coimbatore. While other domestic destinations that are popular are Coorg, Andamans, Ooty and Manali. On the international front, South East Asian countries along with Vietnam, Cambodia are the prime destinations of choice,” Dhall tells us. The number of solo travellers from India is increasing every year and the youth, generally under the bracket of 20s-30s, are found to be the main travellers under this category.   
 
“People have become more outgoing and we have noticed a growth of around 27 per cent on a year-on-year basis. We definitely anticipate the figure to increase over time,” he says while adding that they suggest preventive measures like suggesting well known hotels in good neighbourhoods, sharing detailed do's and don'ts of a region, et al.
 
Yogi Shah, Co-founder of Backpackers Co, tells us that solo travel for the youth is a bucket-list experience that gives them a thrilling taste of independence. “Not only is backpacking (or flashpacking) more economical, it also leaves room for plenty of detours, local experiences, flexibility and the unique hostel experience where you get to interact with travellers from around the world”.
 
According to Shah, Western and Eastern Europe is a backpacker’s favourite destination given the budgets, iconic destinations and its diverse culture but quite a few other destinations are picking up too. “Japan, Croatia, South-East Asian countries and the Scandi-Baltic regions have attracted countless wanderers in the past year,” he tells us. 
 
Many are also offering special travel packages for solo women travellers. Ranjeet Oak, Chief Business Officer-Holidays, MakeMyTrip, says that in the past few years, they have seen queries and bookings from women-travellers increase significantly and is the fastest growing segments in India at this point.
“Not only are women decision-makers when it comes to a holiday-destination preference but a lot of them have taken the purchase decision in their hands. Women travellers have grown confident and savvy in planning and taking trips on their own and in groups. They are now making independent trips with friends, colleague and groups with shared-interests. There are a variety of factors for this - increasing incomes, greater number of women-only travel groups, travel blogs acting as inspiration and a growing number of women travelling for work and getting hit by the travel bug, leading to travel for leisure as well,” Oak explains.
 
MakeMyTrip is also one of the first (if not the only) organised travel player to curate and customise value-driven packages for the fast-growing segment of women-travellers. Oak elaborates, “We introduced Women-Special departures (women-only group packages) for Ladakh and Bhutan in 2013. These included special activities curated for women travellers such as local interaction, art and cookery classes, spa, meditation sessions, local shopping, and tea-tasting in addition to the usual sightseeing. This kind of a safe and hassle-free vacation with thoughtfully planned sightseeing, lady your managers and comfortable transportation received a tremendous response from our women customers and we saw a nearly 400 per cent year-over-year customer growth, albeit on a small base”.
 
Even Backpackers Co introduced Girlfriend Getaways for women. “The idea was to ensure women stay safe without compromising on good times. Some of the hostels we stay in have ‘women only’ floors/dorms,” Shah says.Wetravelsolo, which was launched in 2014, has also created a mobile app of the same name for like-minded travellers to come together on one open platform and build a community.
 
“We want to empower every individual traveller by the aspects like he/she can travel solo. Secondly, for every solo traveller, there is a community which connects with them and understands their passion and providing hand-crafted budget, experiential or backpacking trips by other influential travellers, shares founder Shefali Walia.
 
From solo-travel, to women-only travel, 3-4 long weekend breaks in a year and a couple of short-holidays during the festive season, people here are surely discovering new ways to holiday.
 
 
 
 
 

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