Pre-Pandemic we gathered as community to hear transformative travel stories from our esteemed guests, connect with like-minded travelers and build excitement for future adventures.


I am honored to be part of the Travel With Meaning community, but I am even more honored to be part of the TWM community of female travelers. Being a female and an explorer are core parts of my identity. They provide an avenue to connect with similar individuals and learn what it means to be a female traveler. Encouraging and inspiring me to travel deeper and better.

To celebrate Women’s History Month, I wanted to express my thoughts and champion several incredible women. Below are three female travelers from decades past and three female travelers we are lucky enough to have had as guests on the podcast. Their inspiring journeys transcend time and, hopefully, will encourage you to channel your inner explorer.

  1. Annie Londonderry (1870-1947)*: Just after learning to ride a bicycle, Londonderry set off for an adventure and became the first woman to bike around the world in 1895. She left the comfort of her home for 15 months to raise money she needed to settle a wager. Despite receiving myriad doubts and concerns, Annie’s determination propelled her to success.

  2. Isabella Bird (1831-1904)*: Bird sailed from Australia to Hawaii to Asia, climbing mountains and traveling on horseback to reach her next location. She was the first female Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Bird documented her journeys by writing books and publishing photos.

  3. Jeanne Baret (1740-1807)*: Baret was the first woman to circumnavigate the globe - but here’s the catch: the entire time she disguised herself as a man. This illustrates how restricting these times were for females that wanted to explore. In fact, the chance only arose because she was the nurse for a man who set off on the journey, but Baret threw herself into this opportunity.

  4. Kinga Phillips: Born and raised in Poland, Phillips’ family introduced her to exploration at a young age. They embarked on road trips, camping excursions, and science adventures. Now Phillips travels the globe to dive, spear fish, surf, sky dive, and more, all while capturing her story with a camera.

  5. Christina Ochoa: A student of marine biology, Ochoa devoted her life to exploring wildlife. She serves on the advisory board of both “Oceana” and “Earth’s Oceans.” She loves being underwater and spends her free time in the ocean or working on wildlife conservation projects.

  6. Laura Grier: Called the “Indiana Jones of Adventure Travel Photography,” Grier has spent over 18 years capturing stories of the world through photojournalism. She began living abroad at a young age and, since then, has acted upon her passion of exploring the world.

What do these women have in common? I first notice the independent and courageous attitudes they embody. Opportunities did not fall into their lap; rather, they sought out chances and capitalized upon them. They bravely broke barriers, becoming the first to accomplish a feat or add a twist. These women exchanged comfort for uncertainty, and with that, the ability to explore themselves and the world. No matter the decade, each woman served as a storyteller with a unique voice who will inspire for years to come.

Having a few years of experience under my belt, I am amazed with the level of passion they demonstrate and aspire to capture that energy myself. To me, traveling as a woman means independence. It means hitting the road with enough confidence and positivity to not look back. Especially after learning about the experiences of Londonderry, Bird, and Baret, it means recognizing that the ability to travel is a gift few women in history have had. Even today, many countries prohibit women from leaving. Keeping this in mind makes me extra grateful for every trip I take.

However, traveling as a female also means being alert at all times and keeping your wits about you. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your expedition to the highest degree, though; it only means that it is important to have resources you can rely on, whether that be a home base or contact in the area. If you travel solo, do not be afraid to meet others and sit down for a meal with someone you just met. Solo travel is an adventure I have yet to tackle, but I believe it is a right of passage and hope to do so soon. If this is also on your bucket list, I recommend checking out She’s Wanderful, a group that supports and provides resources for solo female travelers.

Women’s History Month is a great start, but it does not end here. I urge you to celebrate the diverse and powerful group of women in our community 365 days a year. We at TWM are honored to have welcomed such inspiring women into our community of travelers, and we are thrilled to welcome many more that will encourage us all to travel more.

Laura Grier
Kinga Phillips
Christina Ochoa


More and more world travelers are starting to understand the impact small travel decisions have on the local community. Jessica Blotter and Sean Krejci are early adopters of the mindset that traveling is an opportunity to positively affect the places we visit. Inspired by this idea, they co-founded Kind Traveler in 2016, which is the “first socially-conscious Give + Get hotel booking and media platform that empowers travelers to positively impact the communities and environment in the destinations they visit.”

Kind Traveler posted a blog on their site, written by Ellie Huizenga, that I found relevant and powerful enough to share here at Travel With Meaning. Titled “5 Global Wellness Experts Share Self-Care Tips for Uncertain Times,” it does just that - emphasizes the importance of self-care and creative ways to achieve that at home. So, for now, I am going to summarize the key points so you can put yourself first!

1) Leisure Excursions - Anne Dimon, President/CEO of Wellness Tourism Association, Denver, CO

Taking the time out of your daily routine to leave the house for a “leisure excursion” is essential for reducing stress. Dimon believes that these excursions and local travel will begin to replace long-distance tourist vacations, as people will “want to avoid crowded tourist attractions in favor of more remote, nature-embraced regions.” But, for now, she recommends daily leisurely breaks, while following local guidelines, of course!

2) At-Home Spas - Mary Bemis, Editorial Director of Insider’s Guide to Spas, Gold Hill, OR

With years of experience in the spa world, Bemis believes that a “spa is a cornerstone of personal health and healing… the best thing you can do is to take good care of yourself - be kind to yourself.” She lists the basic elements of spa therapy and suggests ways to incorporate that at home.

Water: connection with fluid and hydration

Bath, possibly with Epsom salts

Contrast shower (alternating between hot and cold)

Enjoy the scent of a bowl of steaming water with essential oils

Hot tea (chamomile or peppermint)

Touch: promotes fluid movement throughout the body


Foam roller or tennis ball

Movement: tremendous effect on mood

10 minute walk


Food: the “greatest source of real pleasure”

Cooking is a ritual that can open your eyes to new cultures

3) Balance - Joanna Roche, Executive Director of Green Spa Network, Nantucket, MA

Joanna offers six different ways that all contribute to “nurturing good health and wellbeing.”

  • Get a good night’s sleep: Developing a soothing bedtime ritual helps tremendously. You’ve heard it a million times, but it really makes a difference to store your device away from your bed. Other tips include an epsom salt bath, listening to relaxing music, or drinking herbal tea.

  • Meditation Practice: It only takes a few minutes each day to explore meditation. Do it right before you get out of bed to start your day or right after you crawl into bed to close out the day.

  • Movement: Take a walk and “be mindful of your surroundings and focus on your breath.”

  • Nature: Try spending time outdoors barefoot. Just 20 minutes a day induces an interaction with the earth’s negative ions and reduces anxiety and stress.

  • Water: hydrate hydrate hydrate and take care of the Earth’s water sources.

  • Connection: When you may not be able to physically be with a friend or family member, it is especially important to reach out and be there for them. “We all need to feel valued and we can all offer value.”

4) “Self-Care Box” - Abbey Stone, Executive Editor of Well+Good, Brooklyn, NY

Not so shockingly, “there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for self care.” It may take some time to try out different practices, but the key to self-care is practicing what truly makes you feel happy. Abbey has a metaphorical “self-care box” that she turns to at least one a week or when she feels stressed. The beauty is you can fill your box with whatever you want, whether that’s reading or doing yoga or playing music - it’s your choice!

5) Creativity with Food - Felicia Tomasko, Editor in Chief at LA YOGA Magazine, Los Angeles, CA

Felicia has taken this time to “be more carefully conscientious about food. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean just eating organic, but being more thoughtful and creative.” Hit up your local Farmer’s Market or buy produce that is in-season. Try a fun recipe from a country you have always wanted to visit! Or look up ways to use the entire plant, like making pesto with radish leaves, as Felicia did. The possibilities are infinite!

As our communities begin to open up and transition into a more social state, it is all the more important to practice self-care. Change can be overwhelming, so we want to encourage and inspire you to put yourself first!

To hear more about the Kind Traveler story, check out the Travel With Meaning Podcast episode #5 with Jessica Blotter. You can also find their website here: Kind Traveler. For now, comment with what your favorite self-care ritual is!

Written by Garland Horwitz

The travel sphere has historically low rates of diversity, and it is past time for that to change. Travel With Meaning strives to play a role in the effort to increase travel diversity. We want to amplify the voices and messages of the movements that fight for equality. Travel is global, so why shouldn’t the entire globe be able to experience it?

One member of the travel community with a strong voice in sharing her experiences is Oneika Raymond. A “bona-fide travel junkie,” journalist, and TV host, Oneika craves the thrill of adventure. She also encourages the conversation of travelling while black. In 2016, Oneika posted a blog on her site Oneika the Traveller - “What being Black and Abroad means to me” - that I found powerful, so I have repurposed it to share with you here.

Bringing diversity to travel is a team effort. It starts with awareness but never reaches a finite end. I encourage you to read Oneika’s story and take it with you on future journeys.

What is the significance of being a black person who travels internationally?

I recently received a t-shirt from the travel collective Black & Abroad (more about who they are later on in this post), which is timely, because lately I’ve been thinking about what being a black person who journeys far from home (i.e. both “Black” and “Abroad”) means to me:

-Being Black and Abroad sometimes means being ‘othered’ while you travel. It means fielding curious questions about your appearance, skin colour and hair texture, and constantly refuting conjectures or stereotypes (about things like your prowess on the dance floor or athletic ability) based solely on the skin you occupy.

-Being Black and Abroad sometimes means being treated like a celebrity in places where black skin is a revered anomaly. People have never seen (or have seen very few) beings who look like you in the flesh, so compare you to athletes like Lebron James (if you’re tall and male), or entertainers (like Beyonce and Rihanna) if you’re shapely and female. It means being asked to pose for pictures with strangers, hold babies, and shake hands with grandmas.

-Being Black and Abroad sometimes means being racially profiled, in airports, in shops, in government offices. You will be stopped at immigration while travellers of a lighter hue walk on by. You will be asked for your “papers” to prove you are “worthy” and “legal”. Your passport and your dollar/peso/dirham notes will be turned over and over in discerning hands to ensure that they are not counterfeit. Gazes will linger over your clothing and physical aspect, inspecting and extracting your financial status and danger quotient.

-Being Black and Abroad sometimes means going to places and doing “the nod” when you see another black person. Because in some places there aren’t many of you. You do that slight downward tilt of the head to acknowledge and recognize this phenomenon, sometimes to the surprise, glee, or discomfort of your non-black travel companions. “Do you know that guy over there?” No, I don’t. But I *see* him.

-Being Black and Abroad sometimes means being a representative of the whole black race for those who are not of African descent. You become the de facto expert on the full range of black issues the diaspora over. You will be asked about Obama and Boko Haram, Mandela and Will Smith. Your individual actions will be superimposed on the whole black community so you try to act in ways that will only reflect positively on your people– you don’t want to sully the travel waters for your brother or sister. You will be told about a black friend, acquaintance, or stranger that you resemble, though the only thing you may share is a skin colour and a sex.

-Being Black and Abroad sometimes means being a role model to little black boys and black girls (and grown black men and black women) who don’t realize that international travel– for leisure and education and even just to “find ourselves”– is something we can do, too. Every trip, every ticket stub and passport stamp, and every social media post and picture will serve as a blueprint to these people; a reminder of the beauty of possibility and the simple audacity of just going. For them, *you* have become the billboard or the endorsement of this kind of travel, because mainstream media doesn’t remember or care that we can also go places for reasons other than immigration or asylum.

-Being Black and Abroad means appreciating your privilege and living life to its fullest extent on the road. Remember that circumstances have allowed you to behold the world’s treasures, but that not every brother or sister will have the opportunity. It means being carefree but responsible, unshackled but humble. It means being cognizant of the barriers that prevent people who look like you from seeing the world, but willing to bring back and share the knowledge, power, and experience you have gleaned from it.

-Being Black and Abroad sometimes means learning about who you are, where you’re from, and connecting with your history. When you travel to some countries you stare into the faces of distant cousins and walk in the footsteps of the ancestors who birthed you. You feel the full weight of your blackness and realize how a boat or a war or a pilgrimage boarded/engaged in/taken centuries ago has directly changed the course of your life’s story.

As a white, female college student, this power of this message is one I wish to amplify rather than dilute by focusing on my own words. This is why I chose to share Oneika’s words with you today. I challenge you to recognize how you can play a role in the large movement. Often, the first step is education, so be sure to check out Oneika The Traveller!

*photos from Oneika The Traveller

Written by Garland Horwitz (UCLA undergraduate student)

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