To Help Solo Female Travelers, Rashmi Chadha Plans Safe And Exciting Tours To Unexplored Places
- IWB Post
- April 19, 2019
Struck by wanderlust since a very young age, Rashmi Chadha has been a travel buff even before it was cool on social media. And now, she’s encouraging women and everyone else to travel solo to discover their true self.
She started Wovoyage to provide a risk-free and safe tourist experience for female foreign travelers. It is a women-friendly travel company that also includes concept tours like Photography, Rejuvenation, Yoga, Trekking, Cycling, etc. In this interview, Rashmi tells us about the apprehensions of foreign travelers, trends in the tourism industry and exploring unexplored places. Excerpts:
What inspired you to start a women-friendly travel company?
It’s for everyone not just for women, but we curate our travel packages for solo women travelers. We started with inbound tourism and promoting Incredible India. There was a notion that India is unsafe for women, so we began with planning tours to ensure complete safety. On the other hand, we observed that there’re women who know foreign languages but didn’t have any lucrative jobs. So we started hiring them as tourist guides. All in all, we promote our business offerings and recruiting for women, but it’s not solely for women.
What parameters of safety do you take into consideration while planning solo trips for women?
We give them SIM cards if they are international tourists, align them a manager with whom they can get in contact at any time, we verify the drivers and have female tour leaders accompanying them. Also, we book hotels in central locations at all the places or within 100 meters of famous tourist destinations.
How does your startup encourage first-time women travelers?
All the first timers are full of skepticism and uncertainty. We assist them in planning the entire trip, so they are sure of everything. For example, we assisted a woman to take a solo trip to Sri Lanka. We verify and cross-check everything, from hotels, drivers, to guides. The aim is to make them feel comfortable so they can enjoy their trip.
What kind of response did you get when you started your company?
We started with inbound tourism, and we collaborated with the Indian embassy for the same. We got our major clients through word of mouth, and overall we did get a good response. In fact, in the past few months, our growth has accelerated very well.
You studied social entrepreneurship, so how did you decide to start a travel company? What caused the shift?
I have been a travel buff since I was like 11-12 years old. My mother inspired me to travel as she was equally passionate about it. The passion, therefore, led to this startup idea. Tourism is one of the leading contributors to our GDP, it’s essential that we encourage it. I travel a lot and have friends all over the world. They like India and our culture but are skeptical about the safety part, especially for women.
It’s a two-way effort to create a great travel experience, if we have to take care of our guests then even they should be sensitive to not hurt our sentiments in any way. For example, some places you have to follow some rules like covering your head at specific temples or places. We are bridging this gap and bringing people closer to India. There are many unexplored places in our country which are very beautiful. For example, Chhattisgarh is a very beautiful state, and I am working with the state’s tourism department to develop tourism there.
Village tourism and destination weddings are some of the newest trends in the tourism industry. Can you highlight other such trends that can boost tourism?
Exploring unexplored places. There are so many places that are unexplored, like Uttarakhand, Northeast India, etc. Then there are places near famous tourist cities which are far off to travel but are very beautiful such as few villages near Leh and Ladakh. We are also promoting green tourism. We did a clean India initiative, wherein we shot a video at Delhi and promoted via a social media influencer who is a traveler himself.
How many people do you think travel just because of the social media addiction, just because of fear of missing of out and what is going to be its impact on the tours and travel industry?
Social media is a great place to share your travel stories. I remember when I used to travel as a child I used to be not able to share my travel stories with everyone but now it’s become so easy. Too much addiction to anything is harmful but occasionally sharing your travel stories and getting inspired by other stories is not bad. There’s nothing wrong with influencing people to travel, no matter where you go, you will always learn something new and will help you grow as a person.
What are some tips you want to give to solo women travelers?
Read and research thoroughly about the places and travel options. So you know how convenient or inconvenient the location is. Carry essentials such as hygiene products like tissues, sanitizers because not all places have good sanitation facilities. Check which networks work well wherever you are going. Keep a sim card of that network with you in case your regular network doesn’t work at some places.
Do you recommend any particular places for people who are traveling for the first time?
Dharamshala, Mcleodganj, is great in North India. In the south, Oroville in Pondicherry is a must visit. Talking about international destinations, Japan is very safe and beautiful. Sri Lanka and Bhutan are also a reasonable and great option to explore for the first time.
Do you devise any plans for women who want to travel with their kids?
Many women travel with their kids. Most of them are grown up and enjoy the trip as much as their mothers do. We plan the travel accordingly if they want to travel with their kids.
Tell us about your most memorable travel experience.
Walking down the Warden Street in Massachusetts was a pleasant experience. Also seeing Asia’s biggest waterfall, Chitrakoot was as surreal as anyone could imagine.
Share with us some tips for budget traveling.
Cutting down on stay and travel costs is the first option to plan a budget trip. Try to search for hostels if you are traveling alone. There are many women-only hostels where you can book your spot. Always do the booking in advance to avail early bird offers. Mostly avoid going anywhere on weekends except if you are going to see any market or place that is open only on weekends.
This article was first published on February 20, 2018.