Saturday, April 5, 2014

Interview (26) - Rachna

My name is Rachna.  
Basically to summarize, after I quit my job, I traveled alone to Europe and from there to volunteer & travel in Peru.  After that I made my way for a craft travel around India (West, East and South) - which enabled me to open my own online store called ICHCHA (which means a wish).  With my sister, I go to India every year for our craft workshop and we create new handmade products.  On these trips, we also travel to find newer craft communities to work with.  You can find more about our craft travels on facebook: and our blog -
            What was your inspiration or the event/idea that made you want to                          travel?
Well, we (my sisters and I) are diplomat children so we have been traveling around since we were born.  You could say that we were the Third Culture Kids.  20 years ago we arrived in New York and soon thereafter my dad left his job as a diplomat. However, the travel as children engrained in us so much that we can’t stay still.  We love to travel!

Have you ever felt lonely travelling solo?

Actually, I had mostly traveled with friends and family.  So, to break out of my shell, I decided on going on a Europe trip alone (after I quit my job).  And it was one of the best things I feel I’ve done!  I didn’t feel lonely ever – instead I met and made a lot of new friends on the way!  It was a whole lot of new things to experience - there was not place for loneliness!

Do you have any fun stories of things that happened to you that you realized even at the time, “This never would have happened if I had been traveling with someone else?”
Well, I am not sure if I would call it a ‘fun’ story – but nevertheless it is a story that happened because I was traveling alone.  I met these two Korean girls on my trip alone to Fussen, Germany. On our way back to our hostels, they realized that they couldn’t buy tickets from the train station!  And they were beginning to get very worried.  But then a German man (who thankfully spoke English) and his wife came to us with a ticket on which 5 can travel as long as they are together.  He offered that ticket for a little bit of share, and the two Korean girls, after a little reservation on whether we should trust this stranger or not, accepted the offer.  We all went back together on the train and the German man actually joked with us the whole way back.  He was actually a very nice man!  He and his wife, actually went with us to our station (a station further from where they were supposed to get off) just so that we don’t get into trouble (without a ticket).  When our station arrived, they gave us the ticket, and rode back on their bikes back to their home.  That was very sweet of them – and made me happy to meet such helpful strangers in a foreign country!  But this isn't the end !  This station was a stopover where we had to catch the next train.  A few minutes later, we see the crowd running off out of the station!  It was dark, and now I was getting worried!  There was a girl (also German) standing there who I approached and asked her what was going on.  She told me that the train was cancelled and that we'll have to take the bus to our next stop - Munich metro station.  That was followed by "Don't worry, come with me" !  Relieved, all 3 of us tagged along with her to the bus.  I sat next to her and we chatted the whole way back to Munich metro station!  She also stayed with us until we got off our final stop!  :)  This may not be story for some to care for or remember, but it stays with me as a special memory because it reminds me that when needed, we were sent help every step of the way :) 

What was your best travel experience?
I went to Peru to volunteer with Anjo Gabriel – a school of mentally and physically challenged kids.  It was the best experience I had.  I volunteered during the weekdays and traveled the amazing exotic cities in Peru on weekends.  I had gone there for a month – but ended up extending my stay for another 3 weeks.

Is there anything you would have done differently/ any regrets, if you could do it over again?
I would go on my solo Europe trip for longer !

What was your worst travel experience?
Hmm.. nothing comes to mind

What advice would you give women traveling solo to your home country?
Hmm.. I am originally from India.  And a lot has been going on in India with women sadly.  Well, here is what I would say:
-       Come home/hotel before it 9 PM the latest
-       Try to wear clothes that do not bring attention to you
-       Go in women only coaches while traveling in a metro
-       Do not go in 1st class in trains. 1st class has cabins with doors. You don’t want to end up in a closed room with strangers.  It’s safer to take 2nd class or 3rd class AC trains
-       Before sitting in a taxi, try to understand the way from the hotel person or a friend
-       When you sit  in a taxi, pretend that you know the way
-       Don’t smile at strangers or say hello.  That’s inviting attention

What are your future travel plans?
Well, since we love traveling, we started a small social business called ICHCHA (which means a wish) that involves traveling to India at least once a year.  We like to call ourselves craft travelers – we go to India and work with Artisans from different parts of the country.  In the west, we work with block printers to create products like block printed scarves and curtains for the home.  In the south, we work with artisans to create hand embroidered bags.  And it’s a lot of fun working with them!  We’ve created a great relationship with them.  You can check the products we create at  So, India is in our very near future plans for more creations J.

What would you tell women who are looking to travel alone but worry about their safety?
I was and always am worried about my safety when traveling solo.  But if you have the love for traveling MORE, you’ll get the courage to just go .. But then just keep the tips in mind and always follow them and always stay alert.

How do you pay for a life of travel?
Haha, I wish I knew – I’d like to know too J !

Tell us about the best food you have ever eaten on your travels?
Well our all time favorite food is Ethiopian!  We had been to Ethiopia with our dad & that just stayed!

What is the most breathtaking view you have ever witnessed on your travels
I guess Hall stat, Austria – because I was alone, it got absorbed better :)
Machu Pichu and a few other sites in Peru were amazing too!

What do you miss about your home when you go traveling?
My family and friends

What have you learned from travelling?
I guess if you go having a child’s inquisitive brain and open to what the world has to offer you – you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised and happy J 

1 comment:

  1. This is a very awesomely written and a very helpful post for anyone travelling alone and/or travelling to India. It tells us the exact mindset of women travelling alone.. their foes and fears.. and how it all can be overcome and enjoyed and how "help is always sent at times and ways when needed"... just perfect.. will always keep these things in mind when I travel.. :)