The inspirational story of three mothers on a road trip to London.
How it started?
Most of the passionate women travelers would think twice before going on a long drive trip as they get deterred with the thought of changing tires, fixing the car, or the fear of safety. But, not this group which included Rashmi Koppar, Dr. Soumya Goyal, and Nidhi Tiwari all in their mid-30s took up a fierce challenge of traveling from Delhi to London in a car. During their journey, they crossed India, Myanmar, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Finland, Czech Republic, Germany, and the UK.
Planning is the Key
These routes were carefully chosen, keeping in mind the places they wanted to visit along the way. For instance, visiting the central Asian countries was their top priority. The most memorable part of the journey for them was to drive through the exotic silk route.
On the way, they witnessed a variety of landscapes, starting from rocky terrains, non-tarred roads to forests, streams, and dunes. The journey is unpredictable, but crossing over nations that are enriched with years of history is exciting to explore. Crossing 17 countries in total, which is about 21,477 kilometers, was a big adventure, but they managed to complete it in under 100 days.
Why was the trip important?
Besides the fact that the trip was their lifelong dream, the journey was also made to spread awareness on women empowerment. They are part of the community known as Women’s beyond boundaries, which was started in March 2015 by Nidhi, aiming to motivate women to drive long distances. All three took a sabbatical from their respective jobs for this journey.
What it really takes?
While Rashmi Koppar is the mother of a young daughter and a hotel management professor, Dr. Soumya Gopinath works as a physical therapist at MS Ramaiah Hospital and is a mother of two young boys. They also received encouragement from their family. Each day they used to cover 600 km a day, and the first thing they did while entering a country was to buy a local sim card. However, they couldn’t book any place to stay as their plans used to change frequently.
For safety, they chose not to drive late at night and instead explore the places they were staying in. Moreover, they could only speak in English to the local people in India and Europe. Other countries they used sign languages and Google translator.
How they managed with only one driver
Nidhi is the only one in the group that knows driving among the three; hence she had to drive from Delhi to London. But for her, driving is a passion, and she feels therapeutic while behind the wheel. She made her vehicle over ten years ago, and she also bears the skill to drive in rough and rocky terrains. But the journey wasn’t smooth all the way.
The trio of three mothers faced police corruption outside India as well. The police used to create some petty excuses to grab some money from them. But according to Nidhi, who has prior experience in off-the-road jeeping, long-distance, and high-altitude driving, everyone on a road trip has to bear this.
The Myanmar landslide incident
Enroute, the most challenging was when they got delayed by four weeks due to the landslide and floods in Myanmar. On their way of traveling from Imphal to Myanmar, they covered a distance of 200km in over five days, while usually, it takes around 2-3 hours. The matter worsened as it wasn’t possible to drive in such an adverse situation, but all hope was not lost as the locals offered their home and also cooked home-made meals for them. This simple act of kindness helped the trio to restore their faith in humanity.
Permits and Sponsors
The group realized that getting the permits, and all the required visas were laborious and hectic, but in the end, it is doable. They had to get a permit to drive through Myanmar and China. In Myanmar, they also had an escort vehicle to follow them from entry to exit. And in China, they had to get an English speaking guide as it is a necessity to have it for self-drive vehicles in China, and it isn’t cheap.
The expenditure for this journey was costly, and they knew they needed sponsorship to execute this idea. Eventually, the group raised money for this trip, and the car was sponsored by Mahindra First Choice. Moreover, it was the first Indian vehicle to cross the Arctic circle. This expedition started from Dhyanchand Stadium on the 23rd of July 2015 and completed on the 28th of October 2015 when they arrived in London.
What do we take home?
After reaching their destination, they decided to ship the vehicle back as London has a port. This type of expedition is not common among women in India. The group noticed single women driving on the highway only after they reached Europe. They urge every woman to go out and experience long-distance driving. By completing this journey, the group showcased that gender shouldn’t be a hindrance to achieving your dream and goal. Their trip is an inspiration for every woman longing for an expedition like this but is held back by social norms.