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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Woman Trek Guide From India- Puneet Tiwana- ‘SheWanders’

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SalamatRaho presents to you the story of a steel woman who led innumerable treks. She earns her living out of it and also formed her all women trek company – ‘SheWanders’. Her name is Puneet Tiwana.


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How Trekking Changed Her Life

She started with her first professional trek and she actually paid her company establishment expenses after receiving her first income. 

On the very first trek, she had 11 women and the trek was a big success. 

Puneet Tiwana

Inception of ‘SheWanders’

Launching ‘SheWanders’ was one thing and taking it to a level to where it is today, was immense hard work, lots of twists and turns, never ending lessons to learn.

She wanders in a one-woman army.

Change makers take the risks and are ready to die for excellence than to give excuses and live for mediocrity” 

It is often said that change is the only constant in life. Yet humans are conditioned subconsciously to resist change because of the risk that is associated with it. People who don’t embrace change are bound to lose ground and stagnate.

Most people adjust to life they were given on a platter, good, bad, mediocre. They accept that life means compromise, adjustment, sacrifice, making everyone around happy and the ‘self’ is always put on a back burner. 

But there are those who do not accept this societal norm and face the world head on. And one such women of steel is Puneet Tiwana- ‘SheWanders’

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Background of Puneet Tiwana

Puneet was born in a small town in Patiala in Punjab. Her father ran a small business of cutting tools and mother was a housewife. It was like any other happy middle- class family. Holidays mainly consisted of visiting the ancestral village, which never excited her back then, as a young teenager.

How Education Influenced Her

She went to a strict convent school till class 10th.

A big shift happened in her life when she went to a renowned public school then college for further studies. She went from being a caterpillar to a butterfly. This introverted average shy girl suddenly was all over the place doing debates, dramatics, topping all the classes. That’s when she realized that she had the potential to do something different and this confidence changed her life path. Staying in a hostel with people from different parts of the country opened her mind to different cultures.

Struggles Of Life Made Her Stronger

At age 16, she went for her first trek and she fell in love with the mountains. And this passion grew within her day by day.

She did her M Phil and soon got married. It was tough adjusting to the demanding in-laws who were extremely conservative and expected the daughter in law to be a typical housewife. Finance was a big issue so she started teaching English in a college locally and did other courses along with her job, to keep her mind positive. She felt lost and lonely more often than not. She had dreams of travelling, of having her own space and she was nowhere near her goals in life, which started frustrating her.

She had two sons which gave her tremendous happiness. During that period, she kept on struggling to manage her finances and supporting her family. She also did a course in Interior design, thinking that might get her additional income. It was a tough life with no gratification or appreciation. Every time she felt low or was pushed down, she fought back and stood strong. She was a fighter and would not give up. But, she was not happy internally. She could not fit into the role of a typical housewife and bow down to the rules forced upon her.

As they say, when you are pushed against the wall, the only way out is to turn around and face your issues head on. 

After her second son turned two, she decided to get back to trekking as that gave her peace and continued doing moderate treks to build her stamina. Pressures with her Inlaws increased and financial problems were never ending. 

Teaching was the only option but getting a job was not easy. And when all doors close down, there is always one which is left open. Puneet decided to start her own travel agency. From deciding the name to designing a logo, registering it, digital marketing, deciding locations and doing costing, she did it all alone with zero finance and experience and no help! 

When There Is A Will There’s A Way

She had to manage all the detail planning, costing, marketing, communication with clients, preparing pdf’s, designing flyers, giving endless hours to online promotions and being there on the ground! 

All Women Trips: Sound Interesting 

What she enjoys the most is talking to women before the trip starts and forming a bond before actually meeting them. What people see is the end product, the tour! But behind it is a month or two’s hard work! This is the personal touch that she provides and makes all the difference.

Breaking The Shackles Of Patriarchy

What she discovered is that women have been conditioned so much by the patriarchy that they don’t even realize consciously what their strengths are. Each and every woman out there has a special ability in her, a talent, she is unique and that makes every single woman out there special! 

Vision- Free and Wild

Her vision is to take women out in the wild and make them realize their potential and their strength and she has the right to be happy. So many women in her groups after their tour feel empowered, nature in a way takes them back to their untamed childhood, it is like a time travel and they realize the difference between what their aspirations were and where they have ended.

Very often she is asked about her children and how she copes with leaving them behind while managing such a profession. Puneet says that one must love your children unconditionally and make them feel empowered and confident to take care of situations. There is always a solution to problems if you decide to move ahead in life positively. 

Her Experience Of Treks

Since 2018 June till sept 2021 , Puneet has organised 56 treks and tours mainly in the regions of Himachal , Jammu and Kashmir , north east India and Bhutan. She also did three different treks for some prestigious schools in Punjab which had the strength of 70+ students. Her goal is to make travel experiences mandatory in schools and she has been successful in this venture too, post covid restrictions were cleared.

Since trekking is not everyone’s cup of tea she decided to diversify her work by doing offbeat destinations and promoting eco-tourism.

She takes extreme care to curate the route and stay options of such tours.

Though doing something offbeat is completely challenging but once a tour is a hit, there is no looking back.

Eco tourism involves promoting local tourism and her goal is to enable people to enjoy and learn about the natural,historical,and cultural characteristics of unique environments. 

Her aim is to promote domestic tourism as well as to help people become more empathetic towards our diverse cultures.

But being a lady in male dominated profession was not easy. Apart from constantly handling unforeseen situations and managing 10-15 women who have trusted you completely and are not used to such circumstances was a real challenge.

Even though her clients are briefed about the actual circumstances and living conditions of these offbeat places, they still expect luxurious treatment at times. 

They over expect from her and that is a challenge she has to face most of the time. Yet, she takes it positively and provides to the best of her ability. And ultimately, her clients understand and return back with a positive experience. 

Covid As A Deterrent

Covid was another challenge. And every day rules were modified and Puneet had to manage and change her schedule instantly. She had to face lockdowns or curfews and panic attacks amongst her groups but she managed to see that they reached home safely.

Recently she faced an unexpected curfew in Kashmir during a trip in September and the entire network was jammed in Kashmir. So I had to change the entire itinerary in no time, arranged new drivers,changed the bookings etc …so remaining calm and controlled was extremely important in crucial situations !

Women- Wings To Fly

Puneet dreams of empowering women and giving them wings to fly high.

She says,’I feel there’s nothing that a woman can’t do. I feel lucky to have met such strong women from doctors to lawyers to IT professionals who empower each other.”

Her experience has shown her that the general sisterhood of women is strongly reflected during these trips. A lot of women are going through personal crises and sometimes opening up your problems to complete strangers on the tour gives them a different perspective, a solution to their problem.

I want to take SHEWANDERS to international level where I want to promote small unknown yet beautiful countries 

Puneet says,”How I cope up – by setting systems, I do everything from planning to promoting to executing and I have two boys 7 and 12 ! It has been an extremely challenging task to balance out work and home as I’m a single parent to them. But focus, consistency and hard work makes everything possible.”

Team NomadLawyer salutes Puneet, a girl from a small town, a simple housewife, a mother of two young boys, a difficult marriage, no support, yet, managed to overcome all these obstacles and today runs a successful travel company, Shewanders.

Puneet has paved the way for many women who want to venture into this field and fulfil their ambition to merge their passion for travel and make it a profession too. 

Contact – Puneet Tiwana- Shewanders – 7696210777

Email – [email protected]

TELL US YOUR STORY AT:  [email protected]

What is SalamatRaho

Team NomadLawyer’s ambition is to positively impact the world through the stories of HumanKind. We believe in the art of storytelling. Through “Salamat Raho ”, we are creating a database for social good in the form of “Impact Stories”, which will help us achieve our goal and reach out to the world at large. By contributing through your stories and experience you create a significant impact on the community and an exceptional experience for yourself. Visit the NomadLawyer portal at nomadlawyer.org and you can also get in touch with us at [email protected]

 We will use hashtag #SalamatRaho for the series

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