‘Appooppanthaadi’ – The New Indian Express

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Express press service

Sajna Ali has the best quality winners have: attitude. Her story begins in 2014 when she and some friends planned a weekend trip from Thiruvananthapuram to Odisha. When they bailed out, Sajna didn’t shy away. Instead, she went solo, returned to Kerala and started a women-only travel group. Last June, she made the 398th trip organized by her travel agency named Appooppanthaadi.

Sajna, 36, mother of a two-month-old baby girl, aims to celebrate the travel agency’s 400th trip before the end of the year. Over the past seven years, 4,300 women have traveled across India, thanks to the decision made eight years ago. Another first for his travel agency is his first international trip scheduled for this year. Sajna’s fondest memory is of how it all started: the maiden voyage to Rosemala in Kollam district with eight women. “I posted the fun parts of the trip on social media and the requests started pouring in. I thought it was the right time to start this travel agency as a side business,” recalls- she.

Sajna Ali

Sajna’s wanderlust began when her father, a truck driver, brought home gifts and postcards from his wanderings. “He would save money to spoil me with sweets, savory foods, local clothes and photographs. Our bedtime stories were often about his travels. It was my dream to travel the world. I never thought I would start a travel agency that would go this far,” says the technician who quit her job at Thiruvananthapuram Technopark to pursue her passion for travel.

As the travel agency reaches the 400th tour milestone this year, Sajna wants to give back to society. A “give to the community” trip that involves volunteering in a village is planned. Trip members could volunteer their time for anything – from teaching locals language skills to coding. Appooppanthaadi has partnered with Responsible Tourism Mission Kerala, the state government’s mission to promote sustainable travel. Another association is the Prayaana Travel Fellowship. As part of this, his company will sponsor short two-day trips for travel enthusiasts to promote offbeat destinations in exchange for blogs and online video posts.

Its main source of travelers is the agency’s eponymous Facebook group, which has 11,000 members. Sajna is the administrator of 22 WhatsApp groups with 300 members each and uses social media to promote and finalize travel plans. The travel pioneer believes that travel, especially solo travel for the average Indian woman, is less about visiting a place, checking off sights or taking selfies. “Solo travel is empowering. I’ve seen hundreds of liberated women travel with us.

Some were traveling alone for the first time in 50 years. Solo travel brings out its fun side; it makes them feel independent, confident and competent,” she says. Sajna keeps the trips affordable and even does a reconnaissance for each location before arranging the program. “My main concern is the safety of my travellers. We never compromise on that,” she insists.

The lights in the hallways of the hotel are checked. They carry spare battery torches, security apps and self-defense devices like pepper sprays and tasers. Sajna’s achievements include winning a 40 lakh research grant for a special travel project from Aao. Although Covid-19 has put a damper on travel, she is now back at work with two office workers and 18 travel volunteers.

Appooppanthaadi has an evocative meaning for Sajna. The word sums up the fun and carefree times of her childhood when she sat on her grandfather’s lap, listening to his stories and playing with his beard. “Now traveling makes me feel liberated and happy.” Have feet, will travel, this should be the slogan of his t-shirt.

Sajna Ali has the best quality winners have: attitude. Her story begins in 2014 when she and some friends planned a weekend trip from Thiruvananthapuram to Odisha. When they bailed out, Sajna didn’t shy away. Instead, she went solo, returned to Kerala and started a women-only travel group. Last June, she made the 398th trip organized by her travel agency named Appooppanthaadi. Sajna, 36, mother of a two-month-old baby girl, aims to celebrate the travel agency’s 400th trip before the end of the year. Over the past seven years, 4,300 women have traveled across India, thanks to the decision made eight years ago. Another first for his travel agency is his first international trip scheduled for this year. Sajna’s fondest memory is of how it all started: the maiden voyage to Rosemala in Kollam district with eight women. “I posted the fun parts of the trip on social media and the requests started pouring in. I thought it was the right time to start this travel agency as a side business,” recalls- she. Sajna AliSajna’s wanderlust began when her father, a truck driver, brought home gifts and postcards from his travels. “He would save money to spoil me with sweets, savory foods, local clothes and photographs. Our bedtime stories were often about his travels. It was my dream to travel the world. I never thought I would start a travel agency that would go this far,” says the technician who quit her job at Thiruvananthapuram Technopark to pursue her passion for travel. As the travel agency reaches the 400th tour milestone this year, Sajna wants to give back to society. A “give to the community” trip that involves volunteering in a village is planned. Trip members could volunteer their time for anything – from teaching locals language skills to coding. Appooppanthaadi has partnered with Responsible Tourism Mission Kerala, the state government’s mission to promote sustainable travel. Another association is the Prayaana Travel Fellowship. As part of this, his company will sponsor short two-day trips for travel enthusiasts to promote offbeat destinations in exchange for blogs and online video posts. Its main source of travelers is the agency’s eponymous Facebook group, which has 11,000 members. Sajna is the administrator of 22 WhatsApp groups with 300 members each and uses social media to promote and finalize travel plans. The travel pioneer believes that travel, especially solo travel for the average Indian woman, is less about visiting a place, checking off sights or taking selfies. “Solo travel is empowering. I’ve seen hundreds of liberated women traveling with us. Some were traveling alone for the first time in 50 years. Solo travel brings out the fun side; it makes them feel independent, confident and knowledgeable,” she says. Sajna keeps the trips affordable and even does a reconnaissance for each location before arranging the program. “My main concern is the safety of my female travellers. never on it,” she insists. The lights in the hallways of the hotel are checked. They carry spare battery torches, security apps and self-defense devices like pepper sprays and tasers. Sajna’s achievements include winning a 40 lakh research grant for a special travel project from Aao. Although Covid-19 has put a damper on travel, she is now back to work with two emp office workers and 18 travel volunteers. Appooppanthaadi has an evocative meaning for Sajna. The word sums up the fun and carefree times of her childhood when she sat on her grandfather’s lap, listening to his stories and playing with his beard. “Now traveling makes me feel liberated and happy.” Have feet, will travel, this should be the slogan of his t-shirt.

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