For the love of Wanderlust

You don’t travel if you are afraid of the unknown, you travel for the unknown, that reveals you with yourself. – Ella Maillart

The concept of travel for pleasure… for the self…is yet to settle down completely in our society. Travel is still primarily linked to work in societies such as ours. Thankfully, the scenario is changing now. It feels amazing to see that there are now thousands of people who “choose” to getaway whenever they can, wherever they can for pleasure, for self revelations and for heartily satisfactions. However, it’s a shame that not everyone is “allowed” to decide for themselves. Not always are we allowed to fly. Not always do we set ourselves free. I have probably come across very few women travel enthusiasts who have not encountered the following questions.

Why do you need to go? Will your family allow you to go? Who are you going with? How do you know them? Is it even safe for a girl? Isn’t your family going with you?

I am no different than them and have faced my share of restrictions too. I am more than thankful to Allah for the experiences I have gathered till now – Alhumdullilah for all that. But only I know what I had to go through to make them come true. Millions of questions, many fights and dissatisfaction, even doubts at times.The motto was not to give up and it still is.

Following a similar complicated situation on an early morning of June 2016 while sitting in my (then) workplace, it suddenly occurred to me that there are perhaps many like me…who have the willingness to see but constrained to let go for many reasons. A sudden frenzy took over me. I logged into my  Facebook, pressed “Create Group” and typed “Wanderlust” in the name section. And Wanderlust: a women travellers society was born. Rapidly but discreetly it began to grow in numbers. My guess was right. There were indeed so many ladies who were (are) looking for relief, adventure and inspiration. I was thrilled to see the content people were sharing and that too with full enthusiasm. Meeting new people online, knowing their stories and experiences was so inspiring. The lust for travel grew even more. I even met another like minded person on this group who is now my co-admin and, hopefully, a life long friend – Parisa. Never could I imagine that I would connect with someone so well whom I met online. She is a gem and one of a kind. The photos that you will see later in this post belong to her.

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Earlier in 2016 I got in touch with an Italian architect R.M. (initials to maintain confidentiality) who was visiting Bangladesh. I learnt each year he arranges trips where men and women in their late years could sign up without knowing where they are going until they get on the airplane. While I didn’t know how that worked in terms of paperwork and visa etc, but I was very excited by the idea and wanted more than ever to try it, if possible with my group.

On July 2016, I started the first poll on the group asking if they would be interested to go for an all girls trip and to where. After many voting, enthusiastic responses and promises to go, it was finally 8 of us who were off to Sajek in the south-eastern zone of Bangladesh. On December 14, 8 girls completely unknown to each other were off to Sajek, Khagrachari for Wanderlust’s first trip. In this post I will not go into the details of the trip because Sajek, that trip and those 8 people are special and deserve a separate post with all details of our crazy adventure. That will come soon… till then here are some photos of my crazy and now amazing group of friends.

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Sunrise viewing at Sajek                                                                         ©parisa

Off the explore the waterfalls of Khagrachari                                    ©parisa

Who can tell these people barely knew each other before this? ©parisa

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The mandatory jump photo after many attempts (I still didn’t make a decent jump)

I am so glad we did this trip together and honestly could not have asked for better companions. This trip has definitely left it’s mark on me and left me stronger with memories to cherish. I hope this is only the beginning and many for to come, In sha Allah.

Through this group we are not vouching for any feminist standpoint neither are we here to demean men or families  or even the idea of reliance on them. In a world where the tourism and travel business is made up of equal (if not higher) number of women as men, there are still instances where the sex “female” is portrayed and assumed to be a weakness. Women are still threatened by sexual violence and abuse, both at home and on the go. Change must and will come, but it won’t if you decide to sit at home and let that tingling feeling fade away.  I keep telling myself: no one is capable for solving all our problems. Only you are in control of your experiences and how you live through them. In this patriarchal unsafe society, Wanderlust is only an attempt to lend out a hand for any female in need of inspiration or boost if ever she feels less- because she is in no way less. Women have gone out to the moon even and this is only the world we wish to see.

By the time this post gets published, we will probably be on our way to our second trip to explore a heritage site.  In the days to come, we hope to come up with more activities that encourage independent travel among women. International trip is hopefully the next milestone we hope to reach soon. Wish us luck. Let me know your thoughts on this post  or our group in the comments section below.

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More faces of Wanderlust meeting over a Friday morning adda

To find, Wanderlust click here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/wanderlustbangladesh/

Photo credits: Mehnaz Ahmed Parisa

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24 thoughts on “For the love of Wanderlust

  1. What a great blog! And a wonderful initiative. I wish you girls my heartiest wishes in pursuing your wanderlust and independence. I enjoyed reading the details of your personal experience and as a group, especially in light of the challenges you overcame for this trip. To rephrase Neil Armstrong: One step for woman, a giant step for womankind.

    I would also like to read more details of the points of attractions of the location you visited. Perhaps a follow-up blog, if you are inclined, as a guide for future travelers visiting the area?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great intiative and very inspiring. I wishing you and all the ladies happy travels. Even as you prepare for your first international trip…… lots of love from Kenya …..

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  3. It’s so great to hear your perspective on traveling! As a white Canadian woman, I’ve had so much privilege to travel the world without so many nags from my family. They’re even able to come visit me. One of my best friends is American, but an immigrant from Turkey, and she’s lived alone in Madrid for the past 6 years. She didn’t speak to her parents for 2 years because the idea of being single, late 20s and female living in another country was something as traditional Muslim immigrants was so difficult to understand. They had sacrificed everything to come to the USA, why couldn’t she be happy there? Or at least have found a husband in Spain to validate her being there. I’m happy to say that she is mending her relationship with her family, but it’s still difficult. I love hearing your reasons for traveling because multiple stories are so important for us all to hear! Thank you!

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  4. How exciting for you and your fellow girl travelers! Woohoo! Enjoy the adventures. I started traveling solo after the age my family had a say 😉 so I haven’t run into this, but my kids will be off on their own adventures in no time. It is hard, as a parent, to send them off into the unknown and I Hope I can take a deep breath and be gracious about it. 🙂 Enjoy!

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  5. What an inspiring post! I love the way you encourage women to travel even though their situation, culture or any condition that “stop them” from following their dreams. Keep it up! You’re doing a great job!

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  6. That’s such an inspiring thing you are doing!
    I believe that women are faced with even more questions when they “choose” themselves and start traveling. In a world where we are constantly being told what to do, it’s quite brave.
    There seems to be this weird stigma that sole female traveling is dangerous. I am glad you are looking beyond that and having some of the best time of your life!!

    I’ve recently written a blog post that you might enjoy. Here is the link https://livelovetravel.blog/2016/11/27/why-we-should-stop-saying-solo-female-traveling-is-dangerous/

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  7. Traveling has set me free and allowed me to find myself. Actually, my first great adventure was staying home in Colorado while my family moved away. I stayed behind and started working on Copper Mountain skiing. That started 20 years of wanderlust for me. I skied and rafted my way across the US with stops in Lake Tahoe California, Alta Utah, Seattle Washington, Bend Oregon and Whitefish Montana. I did not grow rich monetarily from living and working all these places, but I grew rich experientially. Most importantly, I grew whole. I learned who I was in this world and what I was capable of. Without travel and adventure, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I would encourage women especially to take the time to find themselves and not accept the roles they are being handed without questions. In the end, “Your Life” can not begin without “You”.

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  8. The idea of flying off to an unknown destination with unknown people sounds exciting. Glad to know you had a great time with your new friends. Will look forward to reading your post about your adventures with them on your trip.

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  9. It is interesting that you say travel is mainly seen for work rather than pleasure. I guess I never grew up with that concept. Travel for me has always been about developing yourself. I think travel teaches us so much, especially to open up our minds to new experiences and people. Fear of what is different is dangerous in a society and for the world. So I wish more people travelled. This is a great iniative

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  10. It really take guts to pack up your bags and go for a wanderlust. I truly appreciate the way you inspire other women to come out of their shells and explore the world.

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