She’s trekked through rainforest in a downpour, accidentally locked herself in an Iranian minaret, and found herself adrift in the Pacific Ocean. Writer Payal Mohta talks to 68-year-old Sudha Mahalingam, who started traveling solo in her 50s.

It’s not your typical story for a professional Indian woman in her 60s. But after she quit her job in print journalism for a full-time career as an energy economist, travel began to consume Chennai-based Sudha Mahalingam. She now juggles researching, consulting and advising on energy security along with extensive travel and travel writing, and has had her writing published in several Indian publications.

“Around 2003, there were hardly any training grounds for people wanting to pursue energy in India,” says Sudha, who was in her 50s at the time. “Being more or less the only energy expert in the country, my inbox began to flood with invites to international energy conferences.”

During these early years, Sudha found that most of her travel destinations were dependent on these invites. As a result, she was always on a shoestring budget and rushed for time. On the flip side, trotting off to foreign lands (in the pre-Internet era) without hotel bookings while being dependent on “dog-eared Lonely Planet guides of yesteryear” became the norm for her.