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Sharon Lobo

IWB Blogger

Garima Pande Turns Women Into ‘Wandering Janes’ To Travel To New Horizons Of Self

  • IWB Post
  •  December 12, 2017

Being an army kid, Garima Pande has been to many places throughout her childhood that’s how she developed her love for traveling. She believes, having been supported by her parents, gave her an opportunity to experience wild winds of solo travels.

Wandering Jane, the name itself is so pleasing to the ears. It makes my imagination wander around green lands with the light blue sky shining over my head. Garima Pande and Akshat Sharma are the ones who are to be blamed for this wanderlust.

Wandering Jane aims to create an eco-system where women travelers do not need to think twice before booking their next adventure. Garima wants more and more women to take up travel. She shares her plan with us to venture into courses and skill building for women in the future. According to her, courses like mountaineering, scuba diving, surfing, etc. can be life-transforming.

From a 9-5 Marketing job to entrepreneurship, that’s quite a journey!

If I say, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur I would be wrong. I loved what I was doing. I think a lot of my past experiences have contributed to who I am today and this organization. This wasn’t a well-thought of and planned career move. Akshat and I just happened to meet at the right time at the right place. I was feeling bad that women can’t travel. A lot of my marketing experience rubs off on Wandering Jane.

Who is Wandering Jane?

Jane is somebody who represents a woman- traveler, a fighter and someone who goes a little out of the ordinary with her life. The connect with women is established through the name. It does have a lot of references including literature. There’s also a woman named Jane who traveled the world by herself. And, ultimately, it all boils down to a fierce woman, and that’s how we decided to choose the name.

What is Wandering Jane wondering about?

Maybe, that travel has become a fad, now. It’s a thing that is to be talked about. But apart from that, I feel travel can really empower people. You are more learned, and studies show a well-traveled person has much more knowledge. It makes you more confident. Personally, I do feel it is important for women to travel.

Parents are always paranoid about sending their girls alone on trips. Time to school parents?

Actually, it’s the way the society is built. Women get questioned and don’t have the freedom to make decisions all by themselves. This also becomes a challenge for us while building the company because there are so many women from smaller towns getting in touch with us. Most of them sign up and then unpack bags since parents refuse. Sometimes, parents want to speak to us and know how we are organizing it. By and large, it’s the society that has made taking decisions so difficult even if it’s for their own good.

Okay, it’s a chance to tell parents how you are making tours safe.

I can’t go ahead and stamp that all our trips are safe. Certain things are out of our control. It’s not a school trip where people are monitored. The trips we organize are personally verified, and as a company, we have gone there. We are very particular about the premises we book. We do follow a precise checklist right from booking accommodation to tourist attractions till the end of the trip. Regarding local experts, we onboard people whom we personally meet. Everything has been hand-picked very accurately. We also have a plan B, and thankfully, nothing wrong has happened so far.

Is safety an issue only in India?

Not really. To be honest, I have traveled to a lot of countries, and I think the security concern in India is highlighted because we live here. You know the things that happen on a daily basis in daily newspapers. If you travel even in Europe, if you are walking in some locations at night, it’s far eerier than walking in certain overrated unsafe cities in India. It’s all about the perception.

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How do you keep Wandering Janes entertained during such trips?

Some women travel all by themselves, but that gets a little boring after few days, so we thought of bringing like-minded people together and do activities as well. For example, if you sign for a yoga retreat, you meet yoga enthusiasts, so it’s easy to connect.

We read one of the testimonials on your website that says it was a perfect mixture of fitness and leisure. Do you add fitness quotient on every trip?

It really depends on which trip you’re going. The levels would be decided. If we do a trek, you need a certain expertise. For example, if we are working on a Bali trip, we will be offering scuba diving, surfing but that commitment is for 2 or 3 hours a day. The other time you are relaxing or going out for a party or enjoying a cocktail evening. So, that just balances out. We don’t want to make a fitness retreat completely about fitness then it takes the fun aspect out of it.

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Walk us through your planning process.

We have customized plans for solo-women travelers. Every time I plan a trip on our website, it’s a journey that I will pay and sign up for. Unless I am convinced about that, I don’t go ahead with it. We live the tour in the shoes of our customers.

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Where did you go on your first solo trip?

My first significant solo trip was to Europe. A lot of learnings from that trip now goes into developing of the company. The first few days were lovely as I wanted to soak in everything. I wanted to go and talk to people, understand what they do and a lot of that. But after a certain point in time, I longed for the like-minded company. Someone to discuss my day with over a glass of wine. When I came back, I felt much more confident and that I could take ownership of myself.

What do you love the most about traveling?

The focus is only on yourself and the place. There is no connect back to who you are or what you were. There is no baggage you carry around. I think the learning is far more because it’s only about you and how you connect with the place.

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What kind of traveler are you?

I am much of a people’s person. I am not dying to explore different cuisines and taste local food. Not at all a foodie. I would rather see how people live, what the locals do for leisure. All have different checklists. There are some who like to see historical places while some like cuisines. Everyone travels for different reasons.

More than my parents, I need to convince Lady Boss to let me wander off for days to an unknown destination. As long as there is wifi, I don’t think there should be a problem, but I better ask her.

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