The past, present & future of inspirational women in travel
“We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievement.” International Women’s Day 2020
International Women’s Day is about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action. To celebrate the day, Travelzoo is showcasing three inspirational women who have demonstrated determination and bravery to overcome expectations and stereotypes, and in their own way demonstrate how barriers within the world of travel may be transcended.
Felicity Aston, explorer and climate scientist
Felicity’s exceptional, world-record-breaking career began in 2006 where she led the first group of British women across the Greenland ice sheet. She has since compiled a seemingly endless list of extraordinary achievements, including leading an international team of women (some who had never seen snow before) on a 900km ski expedition to the South Pole, and most notably becoming the first woman to ski alone across Antarctica in 2012.
Her passion for polar exploration began in 2000, when she lived and worked as a meteorologist on the Antarctic Peninsula for two and half years. You might think that she left her scientific background behind as she began breaking records and leading expeditions around the world, but in fact she has continued to combine her trips with various research projects, including conducting work at the nuclear-powered icebreaker at the North Pole.
Her dedication to polar exploration was recognised when she was awarded the Polar Medal and appointed MBE in 2015.
What has been the biggest thing you’ve learned from your extraordinary travel expeditions?
"I learned that we are each far more capable than we give ourselves credit for. Our bodies are stronger and our minds more resilient than we ever anticipate. Whatever the form of the challenge, the days pass, the mind copes and we emerge as better, stronger people. I tell myself now, 'Just keep getting out of the tent' -- because if I can do just that, every day, who knows where the next day will take me!"
Visit Felicity's website to read more.
Jessica Nabongo, traveller influencer and curator of thecatchmeifyoucan.com
Jessica is the first documented black woman to visit all 195 sovereign countries recognised by the UN. This, of course, presented her with some challenges, especially as she is a woman of colour travelling solo, but she continued to defiantly spread the message of fearless travel. She wanted to break stereotypes and normalise blackness in off-the-beaten-track destinations, spreading the message that black people travel as well. Since completing this extraordinary feat, she hopes to inspire her followers to broaden their travel horizons and explore lesser-known places, in turn producing more authentic localised travel experiences and a closer relationship with the environment.
What have you learned during your travel adventures?
“During my journey, I have learned that people are more similar than we are different, and through travel we are able to see these similarities in other cultures. I am committed to increasing cultural awareness and encouraging people to think positively about other countries and the world at large, so that we do not miss out on opportunities to have amazing experiences with our neighbours."
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Girls Trip Tours, immersive travel experiences focused on female empowerment
This is a female-focused travel initiative that invites solo female travellers to connect with locals through carefully curated travel experiences in Africa (their 2020 trip is to Zambia). It is female-centric organisation founded by strong, business-woman, Eyitemi Popo, who is “on a mission to curate a female-first future of travel”. These tours aim to empower solo female travellers by giving them an opportunity to become fully immersed in African culture, alongside unique chances to mentor young female entrepreneurs from the local community. They provide a supportive and confidence-boosting environment that benefits female travellers as well as local communities, and hopefully gives African businesswomen the chance to showcase their resilience and hard work.
What would you like to learn from your future trips?
“We’ll spend a week in Zambia exploring the beauty and majesty of Livingstone and Victoria Falls, stepping out of our comfort zones through adventure activities and safaris, as well as practicing self-care routines for the mind, body, and soul. I'm most excited for our social impact day, in which we will learn about local female initiation practices from community leaders and mentor a group of teenage girls at the local school.
“At Girls Trip Tours, we are traveling to transform ourselves into the women we aspire to be, while inspiring the next generation through our mentoring programme for girls. The goal is adventure, sisterhood, cultural immersion, and most of all, social impact.”
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Visit Girls Trip Tours' website to read more.
To find out more about this year's International Women's Day initiatives celebrated on March 8, 2020, head over to the official International Women's Day website.