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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.