Women-Only India Travel Club Breaks With Tradition

Flickr photo by rajkumar1220

Historically, the idea of independent travel was not an option for Indian women. They typically stayed at home, cared for by a husband or a father figure. But with more female opportunities in education and employment, the role of India’s women is changing. Say hello to Indian travel clubs.

Traditional travel groups for Indian women included widows, abandoned wives and the elderly. But even those women traveled with a male chaperone, mostly to religious sites. Today’s Indian travel for women includes trips around the world, from the the Taj Mahal to the Antarctic.

“In a typical Indian family holiday women end up in a role-playing mode of being a mother, wife, daughter and are often unable to experience a destination as an individual,” says Piya Bose, owner of Mumbai-based women’s travel group, GOTG (Girls on the Go) in an Aljazeera article.As the number of urban, educated Indian women grows, so have the number of travel clubs enabling them to see the world on their own.

With offices in both New Delhi in North India and Bangalore in South India, Women On Wanderlust (WOW) is another travel club, this one founded by travel writer Sumitra Senapathy who promotes the advantages of group travel. “They can come in solo but travel with the security that a group provides”, says Senapathy.

India Travel Guide

It’s Finally Easier to Get to Bhutan

Xioajun Deng, Flickr

Bhutan might be most well-known for its Gross National Happiness Index, but it’s also an excellent destination for any adventure-seeking traveler on the lookout for outdoor exploits.

Situated at the eastern end of the Himalayas, Bhutan isn’t the easiest place to get to, but with the launch of the country’s second airline, that could soon change. Up until now, the state-owned Drukair was the only airline available to the country, but tapping into the aviation infrastructure of next door neighbor Thailand, now the Bhutanese and travelers to Bhutan also have access to Bhutan Airlines.

Thanks to the new airline, there will be a daily flight between Bangkok and Paro, Bhutan’s only international airport.

This is good for the country whose new prime minister isn’t focusing on talking about happiness, but “reducing the obstacles to happiness.” Last year the country had 150,000 visitors, up a whole 60% from the previous year. With tourism as Bhutan’s main source of revenue, particularly thanks to the country’s Buddhist temples and monasteries as well as mountainous landscape, a second airline will help more people have easier access to the country.

Death Toll Rises In Philippines Earthquake

Bohol Island, Philippines Earthquake 2013 Leaves Dozens Dead

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the central Philippine island of Bohol on Tuesday left over 100 people dead, with the death toll continuing to rise as rescuers struggled to reach patients in a collapsed hospital. Complicating rescue efforts, the area affected was home to many old structures which seemed to simply crumble.

Around the island, 23 bridges were left impassable. Five roads were closed and 17 old coral-stone churches were damaged. The quake was centered about 385 miles south-southeast of Manila at a depth of 12 miles.

“Right now we are in the streets because it is unsafe to be inside,” said Maryann Zamora, a communications specialist with the charity World Vision in a CNN report. “Tell everyone to pray for us.”While there is no widespread threat of a tsunami, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center warned that earthquakes this large can sometimes cause tsunamis within 100 kilometers of the epicenter.

Guess Who Has The Most Intimidating Border Control Officials?

Border Control
Flickr, US Army

Do you ever feel nervous going through border control in a new country? How about when you return home? A study by IXP visas polled 1,000 travelers who had been to at least ten foreign countries; over 60% said they felt intimidated by border officials at some time, with the most intimidating vote going to American border control. The reasons sited for the nerves included “obvious weaponry on display,” a “lack of humor,” and a general “intimidating demeanor.”

The countries with the most intimidating border officials:

  1. USA: 22% (of respondents called border control officers intimidating)
  2. UAE: 12%
  3. Mexico: 9%
  4. Canada: 8%
  5. South Korea: 6%
  6. UK: 5%
  7. Israel: 5%
  8. Pakistan: 4%
  9. Venezuela: 4%
  10. Cuba: 3%

Have you felt intimidated entering (or re-entering) the U.S.? Which country has you most nervous at immigration?

The Best Passports For Travel Access

US Passport
Clappstar, Flickr

Applying for visas and dealing with travel-related bureaucracy can be a tedious, irritating process, but the good news is that U.S. passport holders have fairly unrestricted access when it comes to foreign travel.

The Henley & Partners Visa Restriction Index ranked countries around the world based on how freely their citizens could travel with just a passport. The United States came in 2nd place, tying with Denmark, Germany and Luxembourg. American citizens can enter 172 countries without having to worry about red tape, according to the study.So what is the best passport to have? A British, Swedish or Finnish passport is as good as it gets, giving passport holders access to 173 foreign destinations visa-free. In general, being a member of an EU country helps a lot if you want to travel spontaneously, with nine out of 10 of the top countries all part of the European Union.

Some countries however, are not so lucky, with citizens in Lebanon, Nepal and Pakistan finding themselves towards the bottom of the list. Iraqis, unsurprisingly, are expected to jump through a lot of hoops to travel abroad, and have access to just 31 countries visa-free. And the country with the most restrictions? Afghanistan, whose people have passport-only entry to 28 nations around the world.