We all claim to hate clichés. Ironically, don't we all want to stick to the new-age clichés of standing with our backs turned to the camera while smiling brightly at the scenic location, using #wanderlust #travelforlife on our cautiously edited (and heavily filtered) Instagram posts?
Well, the world may absolutely love travelling, but there's a hiccup for half the population. If you are a woman, how safe are you as a traveller? Hiccup number 2-- how safe are you as a SOLO female traveller?
With gruesome cases of sexual assault coming into the daylight everyday, the agenda of women’s safety has never been of more paramount significance.
But it's especially worse in India.
Too often, the cautious Indian parents ask their daughters to not go on that solo-backpacking trip they really want to take. The standard and the conversation-ender question is--"Arre, tu aise kaise akele jaa sakti hai?!"
All this can FINALLY end as Rashmi Chadha is here to make the 'Maa ki chinta' go away with her travel startup, Wovoyage.
Wovoyage came to life in 2016 when Rashmi was pursuing her Masters degree in Social Entrepreneurship.
32-year-old Rashmi Chadha, who is also the founder and CEO of Wovoyage, said that her company promises women travellers the essence of the real 'Incredible India' and not the standard tourist packages offered on other travel websites, without the hassle of worrying about 'concerns' that come with being a woman who just wants to explore the world.
Since starting in 2016, Rashmi has organised more than 200 trips including many exclusively for solo women travellers.
Also men, you're not left out here. Because as Rashmi puts it "Wovoyage is not a women's only travel company, it is women-friendly".
Interestingly, Wovoyage believes in hiring 'super-guides' because as Rashmi puts it,"I don't prefer using the term escorts because of the negative connotation around the word. I believe in the theory that everyone is a leader, and hence the term super-guide."
The profession of tour guides is mostly a male-dominated industry and while Rashmi does not have the utopian dream of women dominating the space, she does want to encourage women to venture into it.
Rashmi says,"Women want to travel and explore the world, India in particular. But with the 'unsafe' tag clouding the country's image, it becomes difficult for mothers to send their daughters all alone all the way to India. So let us say there's this German girl who wants to visit Varanasi, I'll assign a female super-guide who can speak German and also knows every little detail about Varanasi. The German girl will now feel safe and the super-guide earns some decent money."
Rashmi also discloses that she hires many part-time female super-guides because "it's a great way to earn quick money".
Along with an extensive training, the super-guides also receive a 'sensitivity training' where they learn how to behave with female clientele.
Although getting people on board with the idea of Wovoyage was not easy for Rashmi, people did come around when they saw her unceasing passion to take Wovoyage to places. Today, Wovoyage is a strong team of 11 members and 42 super-guides.
According to Rashmi, India is, of course, one of the most inquired about destinations, however, Japan is equally popular with Rashmi's customers, who says that Wovoyage does not only arrange trips but also acts as a consultancy for travellers who are looking to inquire about a particular country or city.
Of course, everyone categorically hates competition at work and Rashmi too would LOVE to dominate the space as "Who would want someone else to do what you're doing too?", however, she's all right with similar startups coming up as well.
So girls (ok fine, boys too), ready to ask your boss for a chutti and go on your #wanderlust trip?