Travel start-ups are shaking the travel scene in India. Besides being one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the world, India is also fast emerging as a ‘start-up hub’ which is changing India’s image in the world.
Girls On The Go (GOTG) was founded in 2008 by a former lawyer Piya Bose when she decided to make her passion for travel into a full time career. GOTG is an only women’s travel club that takes women travelling to exotic destinations like Ladakh, Nagaland, Egypt, Spain, Antarctica, the Arctic etc. Piya noticed that Indian women rarely travelled on their own and were usually accompanied by family and friends. This inspired Piya to start a travel forum for women that aims at empowering them through travel, as she felt that women are avid travellers and more adventurous than their male counterparts.
Piya’s tryst with travel began when she first travelled solo at the age of 16 for a year-long Rotary Exchange Programme to Brazil. Hailing from a small town of Jamshedpur she never thought that one day she would reach where she is today. “No amount of hard work, sacrifices, efforts and money that I have put in can compare with the inspiration that I have received from some phenomenal women whom I have met throughout the course of my journey.” adds Piya on her journey till date with travelling.
Women love exploring everything from the quiet villages of India to the scenic beauty of Egypt. While some women prefer to stay in 5 star hotels, many like to stay at home stays and meet locals and tribes who have a different story and culture from the mainstream society. GOTG offers women safety and companionship of an interesting group of women from around the world, making this a hit with women travellers, who sometimes prefer this over solo travel or family travel.
“Being a part of all women travels group is a bit like being back in hostel days, with endless laughter and conversations and even women in their 60s behave like excited little girls once again. While many stereotype that only single women or divorced women love travelling alone, the fact is that married women, mothers and daughters, mother and daughter in laws etc. from all walks of life like such as home makers, professionals, doctors, engineers, teachers, students and lawyers travel.” states Piya on women from which background and age group travel with GOTG.
While Piya did enjoy success and fame with GOTG, she had her own struggles and obstacles on her journey. “On one of the trips of GOTG, one woman constantly mocked me in front of others. While it did hurt me and made me question what I was doing, it was my passion for travelling that kept me going. Being a lawyer, my profession always helped me in understanding what necessary precautions I should take and the kind of planning goes in before a trip is actually executed” retrieves Piya on the challenges she faced as a founder of a travel start-up.
Many even regarded her as just another travel agent who books tours and arranges trips, but Piya was keen on breaking stereotypes and creating new travel trends in India. A lot of times she had to call women’s husbands or their relatives in order to convince them to send their women family members for a trip. But today, interestingly the case is vice versa and husbands, fiancés or brothers themselves call to gift a travel trip to their loved ones.
What’s more is that Piya and her travel start-up has been covered by a lot of national and international media outlets and she has won a lot of awards. To add to her latest credit is an award for ‘Woman Entrepreneur of the Year’ Award by PCTE University, Ludhiana’.
Her greatest achievement till date has been that she has harnessed the power of free will to do what her heart desired and not be stuck in a box and her corporate career which she was not passionate about. She has also spoken at TEDx where her talk was received with much applause and appreciation with people calling her from US, Europe, Canada and congratulating her on the kind of feat she had achieved.
Her journey from being a small town girl who never travelled in local buses on her own; to travelling solo and also helping other women travel on their own has been incredible. She envisions a world where women from lower economic backgrounds and those with disabilities can also experience empowerment through travel.