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Travelling Solo, not alone

by September 29, 2016 General

KOCHI: A generation whose 65 per cent of population is below 35, is characterised by  Eat-Sleep-Work-Repeat syndrome, has hundreds of online friends on social media, finds love on dating apps and yet has limited or no real connections – has now found love in travelling solo. In fact, funding patterns this year  (till June) show that a host of travel startups have received $366,450,000 as against $357,831,100 received by e-commerce marketplaces (data from Tracxn). WeTravelSolo is one such travel startup that has raised an undisclosed amount from a Mauritius and Singapore based investors, Ccube and Frontline.

Pushing the boundaries of budget and time, travellers today are more than willing to explore and experiment. “People are spending more money on experiences than on their travel and accommodation costs.  Whether or not one has company, satiating that wanderlust is no longer a problem. Traveling solo but not alone with like-minded people is definitely at the top of the travel trends in India this year,” says Shefali Walia, founder, WeTravelSolo.

Wetravelsolo has taken a community driven approach through its social networking platform by connecting solos around common interest areas, both online and offline, over travel.

It co-hosts travel experiences as an interest network for solos around themes such as music festivals, photography, biking, bring your own dog, trekking, and adventure sports.

“It could be anything from a two-hour long event to a 20 days trip. For instance our Solo Weekend Buddies connects people over the weekend over small excursions,” explains Shefali.

Having tapped over a 100 million target solos since its inception in 2014, WeTravelSolo has so far organised 18 trips across India with most groups departing from Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. It has about 20,000 registered users with 300 of them being active members, who range from corporate slaves, people looking for friends, who browse through dating apps to meet someone new, sabbatical cravers to music lover, bikers, cycling clans and trekking clubs. “It’s for anyone who is looking out to meet like-minded people and to break the monotony in their lives,” she adds. Vartika, a corporate employee, for instance found freedom from stress and monotony in the rocky terrains of Ladakh while paragliding through Dhauladhar. Aditi, on the other hand ended up meeting BFFs  in group with whom she was on first-ever her solo trip. For Ashish and Rajni, WeTravelSolo played a cupid!

“Clearly, travel does makes you experience more than a place,” quips the 27-year-old footloose as soon as she finishes recounting ‘a few cute stories’.

In a society that is essentially conservative, how does Shefali see growth and future of a startup that works on the idea of idea of making strangers travel together?

”In 2014, when we had started out we had been asked the same question.  Today solo meet-up community is a growing lifestyle trend that’s here to stay,” she says and adds, “Whether a business survives or dies is a matter of innovation and deliveries, but surely there are takers for something like this.”

The highs and lows

For the bootstrapped startup introducing the concept of solo travelling whithout actually being alone was an uphill task. “Making market for solo was not an easy job since no one was talking about it. We realised that seeding information about our concept to people is the best way to overcome this challenge. We keep informing people about the campaigns we initiate on regular intervals through different social and traditional mediums. Over a period of time, we have made Solo travelling an industry within itself.  And now you see it as a trend in travelling,” Shefalli shares. And her biggest achievement? “I would say it’s yet to come,” comes the modest reply.