Being a woman, even in today’s modern western civilization, isn’t easy. It’s not “girly drama” (as many would point out). No matter how much we have achieved there is still a long way to go. Women are either demonized or overpraised — at the end of the day folks our truth is a simple one: we just want to be treated like human beings with equal rights. We don’t have superpowers; we shouldn’t have to prove the world that we can or can’t work the same jobs as men (in fact, our skills and expertise should be enough to support that); we can’t be judged for deciding to not have children, for deciding to have just one child, for deciding to have five children (whatever slides from average seems to be an insult to society); we most definitely don’t believe we’re superior to men and are determined to strip them of all their rights to benefit ourselves. Not to mention all the work that still needs to be done in other parts of the world, outside our bubble. That is the reason we must constantly remember to celebrate inspiring women.
To celebrate International Women Day today, I asked three fellow women travel bloggers who were the women who inspired them to travel, and seeing how their role models are diverse doesn’t surprise me. These women are ordinary people who accomplished something extraordinary, out of stubbornness, out of adventurous spirit, out of curiosity, out of will. Above all that, they inspired others to also do something extraordinary.
Sky Was Inspired by Solo Female Travel Bloggers
The women who inspired me to travel were actually solo female travel bloggers. I discovered travel blogs when I returned from my first trip abroad, filled with wanderlust, and had a desire to travel but didn’t believe it was possible. Then discovered blogs like Alex in Wanderland, Twenty-Something Travel, and Adventurous Kate – women who were doing exactly what I wanted to do. I stalked their blogs until I was finally ready to write my own and, here I am, on my first solo trip through Central America.
As a woman who solo travels what have been your biggest challenges so far and how have you overcome them?
My biggest challenge so far has actually been my shyness. Traveling solo means that you have to do everything on your own and there are definitely times that freaks me out. I am living with 16 people in Granada right now, but there are times that I talk myself into and then out of going exploring by myself. In the end, though, I just do it. I make a much bigger deal out of things than necessary and no one really cares that I’m alone, I rarely get weird glances, and while I may feel awkward at first the new places I discover are more than worth it.
Sarah Was Inspired by An Explorer
Isabella Bird was an explorer, writer, photographer, and naturalist in the 1800’s. She’s my personal heroine! Isabella was a solo female traveler, which some consider controversial today, but it must have been nearly unthinkable in her era. She founded a hospital in India, explored rivers in East Asia, and lived nomadically with the Berbers in North Africa. Her adventures made her a household name in her native England, and to top it all off she became the first female Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
Becoming the first female Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society is a great accomplishment. How has Isabella Bird inspired you to conquer the world and leave your own mark?
Isabella didn’t pigeonhole her interests and talents. She did so many different things and undoubtedly followed through with hard work and dedication. (Need proof? She herded camels in the Sahara, c’mon!) That was a valuable example to me on how to build my career around my love of travel. I’m a graphic designer, and I got my start working for small businesses and brands in very tiny emerging markets in the developing world. It’s a tricky path that requires a lot of flexibility and hustle, but it’s taught me the value of following my skills and interests to unexpected places, and doing the best work I can no matter the circumstances.
Isabella left a positive impact in her wake. After decades of seeing the world but feeling like she hadn’t made a worthwhile contribution, she studied medicine in her sixties and continued to travel, now as a doctor. Her love of travel inspired her to make a valuable contribution to the world, on a greater scale than she could have done if she’d stayed at home. These days there are so many amazing social enterprises doing great work at a grassroots level, and I’ve been lucky enough to contribute my design skills to many of them. I would never have found those opportunities if I’d stayed at home. Now I’m working on starting a social enterprise of my own!
Chantae Was Inspired by Her Grandmother
My grandmother has always been a massive role model for me. After being a single mother and raising three boys, she trekked around SE Asia, the Polynesian islands, took up hula dancing and learned Hawaiian, moved to Hawaii and either hikes through the jungle near her small home or surfs every single day. She embodies an adventurous spirit despite being well into her 60’s!
Your grandmother has such an interesting life that I couldn’t help to think “this woman is a heroine!” How has she helped you to leave your mark and make an impact in the world?
My grandmother has always led by example. When I was younger, we would walk along the beach and pick up trash together before heading into the ocean for a surf session. It wasn’t through lectures that’d she helped spark my passion for coastal cleanups and a love for nature but through the actual activities of doing those things together. I also witnessed her value her relationships and experiences over expensive objects and saw that she was a happy person because of this. So, thanks largely to her, I try to spend my energy mimicking that idea — that appreciating other cultures, people, and the natural world are infinitely more important than achieving a superficial social status. My dream is to influence people in the same way that she’s influenced me.
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