The World Nomads Podcast: Women in Travel

In this episode we focus on women in travel; the trail blazers, new voices and influencers, united in supporting the sisterhood of women changing the conversation about travel.


Photo © Getty Images/ Alex Robinson Photography

Listen Now

The World Nomads Podcast: Women in Travel

In this episode we focus on women in travel; the trail blazers, new voices and influencers, united in supporting the sisterhood of women changing the conversation about travel.

“As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.” – Virginia Woolf

What’s in the Episode

00:29 What World Nomads believes in

01:45 Stephanie from WITH

03:24 Why men think women are better in housekeeping positions

06:37 Why WITH

07:46 The importance of networking

11:38 Beth tells us what to expect at the Women in Travel Summit

15:34 Bette, the former PAN AM girl (making sure you are sitting down for this)

18:28 "Put out or your parents will never get home."

23:35 Exposure is everything

24:00 Muslim travel

24:56 Elise from Unearth Women

26:29 Favourite travel stories

30:21 Visibility leads to normalcy...

30:42 Ellen Hall

32:48 Milly McGrath

34:20 Allyson Jennings on female travel safety

37:37 Minding my own business

39:12 Next week

Who is in the Episode

Beth Santos from Wanderful the organizers of The Women in Travel Summit, the premier event for women travel influencers and industry members.

Elise Fitzsimmons the Publisher and Co-Founder of Unearth Women a publication championing women stories often overlooked by the mainstream media.

Left to right: Ainhi Pham - Sales Director, Kelly Lewis - co-founder, Nikki Vargas - Co-Founder & EIC, Elise Fitzsimmons - Co-Founder & Publisher

Former Pan Am girl-turned-travel agent Bette Goessling.

Stephanie Taylor-Carrillo from WITH -  Women in Travel and Hospitality, a not-for-profit organisation aimed at addressing gender imbalance in those industries.

And cameo appearances by our World Nomads ladies, Ellen Hall, Milly McGrath and travel safety writer Allyson Jennings.

Finally our thoughts are with Glory from Muslim Travel Rocks who wasn't able to take part in this episode due to sudden illness in her family. Thinking of you Glory.

Glory Ali

Please Complete Our Survey

Create your own user feedback survey

Resources & Links

Scholarships Newsletter: Sign up for scholarships news and see what opportunities are live here.

Find out more about the Women in Travel Summit here.

Want to Republish This Episode

<iframe width="100%" height="200" src="" frameborder="0" style="width: 100%; height: 200px"></iframe>

Next Episode: Environmentalist Bob Brown.

About World Nomads & the Podcast

Explore your boundaries and discover your next adventure with The World Nomads Podcast. Hosted by Podcast Producer Kim Napier and World Nomads Phil Sylvester, each episode will take you around the world with insights into destinations from travelers and experts. They’ll share the latest in travel news, answer your travel questions and fill you in on what World Nomads is up to, including the latest scholarships and guides.

World Nomads is a fast-growing online travel company that provides inspiration, advice, safety tips and specialized travel insurance for independent, volunteer and student travelers traveling and studying most anywhere in the world. Our online global travel insurance covers travelers from more than 135 countries and allows you to buy and claim online, 24/7, even while already traveling.

Get in touch with us by emailing [email protected]

Speaker 1: Welcome to the World Nomads podcast, delivered by World Nomads, the travel lifestyle and insurance brand. It's not your usual travel podcast. It's everything for the adventurous, independent traveler.

Kim: Thank you for tuning to our latest podcast, in which we will explore women in travel, but Phil, I've got to ask you, why does such a category exist as part of World Nomads?

Phil: Oh, look, you know, we're a brand that believes in responsible travel, and ethical travel, and we also believe in equality and equity, and I think, as we find out a little bit later on in this podcast episode, as well, that the figures about the position of women in the travel and hospitality industry are pretty bad, so it's just something that we all have to get together and try and address it.

Kim: But we're not saying that we don't care about men.

Phil: Oh, no. Absolutely not, but we care about everybody, don't we? And we care about fairness, don't we?

Kim: Nicely put.

Phil: Thank you very much.

Kim: Well, I've done a bunch of interviews for this episode exploring women in travel, from chatting to the editor of the first feminist travel magazine in the market, to exploring female travel as a Muslim, which is on the rise.

Phil: Yep.

Kim: Yep. Travel safety, and a look at how things have changed for women over the decades, and as you suggested, it's not all necessarily good news. But, you do kick off this episode with a chat you had at a conference in Edinburgh.

Phil: Yes, I know, very funny. Middle-aged, gray haired man speaking about women in travel, but I'm a feminist, too, okay. Look, I spoke to Stephanie, and she's one of the drivers behind WITH, Women in Travel and Hospitality. It's a network open to all women who work in these industries, obviously, which Stephanie says are very heavily male-dominated, especially at the top.

Stephanie: So, despite the fact that it's an industry that's one of the largest employers of women in the world, at that top level, it's very, very heavily male-dominated, which is also fascinating, because when you look at ... there's various statistics about there about who makes the purchasing decisions in travel, and they are overwhelmingly female, so it's strange that we have so few females in decision-making positions.

Phil: So what's gone wrong? Why's it ended up that way? Do we know?

Stephanie: I mean, I think the thing is it's not a problem that's unique to the travel industry. It's pretty symbiotic of most industries, or a lot of industries, at least, in society, but there are quite a few things that are unique to travel that perhaps, yeah, exacerbate the problem. For example, even though we're all, of course, extremely, highly educated, it does ... travel can attract people who ... you don't have to be like a rocket scientists, or you don't have to have a medical degree, et cetera, and so it has attracted a large sort of number of, in developing countries, et cetera where females maybe don't have the same access to education, so that's one of the reasons that you see women lower levels, areas of the business.

There are also some fairly interesting gender stereotypes out there. I've read one report, I forget where it was from, but I can tell you. I'll look it up. That surveyed some managers from hotels, et cetera, who stated that they'd rather have women in housekeeping positions than men, because they say women do it at home all day, so they trust they'll do a better job. So that skews it a bit, as well. Probably, though, one of the main factors is you look around a conference like WYSTC here in Edinburgh, and you see there a lot of women, and a lot of women are on that path, and they're on that trajectory, but like most industries, there's really not that many senior level flexible positions, so once you move into a primary care giver domestic role, if you want to come back part-time, as I say, this is typical of all industries, not just our industry, you'll probably be working well below your skill level, because it's full-time or, yeah.

Phil: Just thinking, the man, I assume, who made that comment about, that's probably the last time his house ever got cleaned by ...

Stephanie: One would hope so. Or it got cleaned in a dubious way, and things were left places. No, but, no.

Phil: All right, so you're part of a group of women who are trying to do something about this.

Stephanie: Yeah, and the great thing is about this project is that there is an overwhelming amount of support for it, so it actually began with Anne Dolan from Clink Hostels, Marie-Louise Henny from Hans Brinker, and also Kim Whitaker from Once Hostels in South Africa. We were sitting around and talking about the fact that often when we went to conferences, and not so much WYSTC, because they work really hard to address it, but a lot of the other conferences, you just typically see middle-aged white guys on the panels, and you don't really hear a lot from women, and we started questioning why that was. Then we dug a little bit deeper into the lack of females in senior level positions, and so we went away. We asked people, we also organized a breakfast in Dublin earlier this year where we had people share their thoughts. We did some research, and we discovered that there's a few pillars that we can work on that can help make the difference.

For example, a lot of research shows that women don't naturally make mentoring relationships as easily as men do, so they have to be sort of more constructed, I guess. Also, again, this is general, not specific to tourism, but women don't tend to network as easily as men do, so they need maybe a bit more help networking. But also a big one comes down to the fact that often women won't advocate for themselves, and when you ask women, well, why didn't you get a promotion or why didn't you ask for more money, quite often they'll say, "Because my work will speak for itself." But if you're working in a busy organization, maybe not everybody's noticing everything everyone's doing all the time, whereas, again, it's very general, but on a general level men are more likely to put themselves forward and say, "I deserve this." And negotiate for themselves and push for themselves. So there's a certain element of that there, too.

So we realized that maybe something we can do to help is to, yeah, get women together to share ideas to help them to negotiate for themselves, to do a bit of personal branding, et cetera, as well.

Phil: And how do you think that might transfer to [inaudible 00:06:45] we're talking about management positions there, but that 70% of women at the lower level, what can you advise them? They should start networking? They should start forming groups?

Stephanie: Yeah, I mean, they should start networking. They should also, where possible, I mean, they should be looking out for potential mentors, even if it's not a formal we meet once a week, we discuss this, et cetera, but mentors can do a lot more than just giving advice. They can also sponsor people, in a way, and so if the women who have managed to make it into those top levels can start looking out, and helping, and developing the women below them, and advocating for them, et cetera, that can make a big part. So I would say, yes, work hard, of course, but also look for those female role models where they are, use networking opportunities, and find people who are going to give you great advice to jump into those next steps.

Kim: Thanks for that, Stephanie, who just mentioned the importance of networking. This is a great opportunity. My next chat is Beth, from the Women in Travel Summit. It's a premiere event for women travel influencers and industry members, and it's organized by Wanderful. Keep an ear out for a cameo from Beth's 20 month old, [Nora 00:08:04].

Beth: Yeah, so the Women in Travel Summit is our take on really a way to connect travel bloggers, influencers, and industry together in one room, and to talk about where's the travel industry evolving, how can we grow as we are people with our ears on the ground to what's happening in the travel space, and really the closest to the consumer. So, we'll talk a lot about trends. We'll talk a lot about how we can grow our own following and become better at what we do, and really help to push the travel industry forward. It's all women, whether you're on influencer side or the industry side, and so I think there's also an element of just supporting our sisterhood of women who love to travel and want to support each other in their pursuit. It started out as really just a travel blogger event, and now we're in year six, and it's grown to really a top level event for all sorts of people who are creating change in the travel industry to get together and learn from each other.

Kim: Well, we'll find out just how far the travel industry has come later in the podcast when we chat to [Betty 00:09:13], who's 73, and she started off working off for Northwest Airlines and then Pan Am, and she's still in the travel industry, so we'll be able to get a really great snapshot of just how far we've come. Also, later in the episode, Beth, is Glory from Muslim Travel Rocks, and I found her on your site as one of your guests from last year, and just looking at your lineup, you procure some of the most amazing women speakers. How do you do that?

Beth: I think it really has to do with our community, and the fact that we are regularly very much looking for people who are giving new voices to the space. I think the travel industry has, as you were just saying, it's been around for a long time. It's changed a lot. I think from Wanderful, what we've seen is a real growth in the women's travel space, and especially in women's solo travel. So I think we really rely on our community to tell us what is new, what is different, whose voices need to be amplified, and maybe haven't even gotten the coverage that they deserve in the past. So, we have an open speaker application process that we really rely on a lot, and certainly do our own research, as well, but I think it's been a really great testament to how much of a need our own community has seen, because they have found some really amazing talent out there.

We were so honored to have Glory with us. She is paving the way in talking about Muslim travel, and especially about things that women should be comparing all around the world when they're traveling, and so it was really great to have her. She joined us for a really important panel that we had about some of the those less represented communities in travel and how they're evolving.

Kim: I love it. That's Beth daughter, Nora, in the background, having her say on women in travel.

Beth: Yes. We live the full mom-preneur life over here, and we just picked her up from daycare, and she's having her way about what snack she wants to have this afternoon, so it's real life Beth over here.

Kim: That's fabulous.

So the conference in 2019, what can attendees expect?

Beth: Well, there's some really neat things that are happening that we've always done, and then there's also some new stuff. The first thing I'll tell you about what you can always expect at WITS, and that is four tracks of information that happen simultaneously. Those tracks are media, entrepreneurship and business, trending in travel, and then one that's new, and it's called industry insights, and really talking from the perspective of the industry members what they should see in the road ahead. That's what you're going to get when you come to WITS. We also do blogger 101 day at the beginning of the event for anyone who's new in the influencer space, and wants to get just kind of that quick tutorial of how to start from people who have been there. Then we'll get two great keynote speakers that'll come and give presentations.

Now, let me tell you about what's new, because actually, very recently, we just announced that we are now also running an award ceremony called the Bessie Award, and that award is named after Bessie Coleman, who was the first African American woman to hold a pilot's license, and we're honoring the voices of women in travel, both on the industry side and the influencer side and some of the work that they've accomplished over the last year. That event will be happening at the end of the summit. It'll be a great opportunity for us to come together as a community, and honor the voices that have been really paving that way for us, and so we're so excited. Just announced it in the last couple days, and can't wait for it to happen.

Kim: Now, I asked this question at the top of the podcast, it was specifically about World Nomads, why we have a category called Women in Travel and not men in travel. So why do you think it is necessary to have a focus on women in travel?

Beth: It's funny. When I talk about Wanderful, I often talk about our community of women travelers, and so many times I'm faced with this response of, "Oh, women in travel, that's such an interesting niche." Or, "Oh, that's a cute segment of the travel industry to focus on." And what I don't think people quite realize is actually how massive the women's travel ecosystem is. Two out of every three travelers nowadays for female. In the US, women make 80% of the travel decisions, but despite the fact that we are huge in terms of our use of travel, our activity with travel, our impact in travel, it is perceived by the larger industry and by the general public that we're actually very small sub-segment of it. So I think because of that, there's a real lack of representation of women, especially in senior leadership roles. There's a lot that I think the travel industry still needs to do to become not only safe for women, but also inclusive of women, and people who identify in different ways. So I think there's a lot that still needs to be done, and I think having a community of people who have had those experiences before, who can now help each other just navigate, whether it's their professional careers, or the simple experience of how being a woman around the world is different wherever we go. That's really what we're trying to achieve here.

Kim: Now, if you'd like to go along to that, visit That's W-I-T for details and tickets.

Now, as Beth pointed out there in summary, two out of three travelers nowadays are female. Beth said in the US, women make up 80% of travel decisions, but the impact of women in travel is perceived as a very small sub-segment of it.

This is 2019, so to find out what it was like decades ago, Betty's here to provide a perspective, and you might want to sit down for this.

Betty: Well, it began a long, long time ago when the pterodactyls were flying, before airlines I believe. I was born in 1945, which is a long time ago, in Detroit, and then I moved to Elmhurst, Illinois when I was a little girl. Middle class Jewish family, very protected. Wasn't allowed to cross the big road. Couldn't work when I was in high school, because young Jewish girls didn't do that. It wasn't proper. So I think I rebelled. I wanted to travel ever since I was a kid, and my parents thought I was crazy. This did not relate to the lifestyle they had, and I told them I was going to travel all over the world, and they said I'd better marry a rich man. I told them that wasn't necessary. I was going to do it myself, and they laughed, because they didn't have money for me to go to college.

So, basically life went on, and I found out I had to work, and I didn't like what I was doing. There was an ad in the paper from Northwest Airlines hiring women a O'Hare field in Chicago. It was extraordinary, because it was a man's world back then, completely, especially in the travel industry. What had happened was and the government had gotten after them, because of discrimination suits that were just starting, and they were forcing them to hire women. So, 500 women applied-

Kim: Wow.

Betty: ... because everybody thought it'd be fun. Yeah, yeah. Basically it was a ... Well, I'll be humble, but I won't be. It was based on sex appeal and beauty, and back then, when you're young everybody has that. So I was one of five chosen, and what I didn't realize is we were doomed for failure. They did it just to satisfy the government, and they were going to get rid of us. So they started with ... First of all, Chicago in the winter's nasty, so they had us working ticket counter, wearing high heels, and throwing duffle bags from the navel air base across to the baggage claim area. That destroyed our backs, but we had to wear high heels, because it was sexy. Then if we wanted to ramp airplanes, working at the gates, which then was wide open. There was no security, we didn't have coats, and we were ramping airplanes in the freezing cold. I asked them when we're going to get our coats, and they just laughed. So, they wouldn't to get rid of me.

Most everybody quit. Most everybody quit. Well, then we got to the point where the station manager decided he wanted to play, and I wasn't interested in playing. My parents were on standby tickets in ... Where were they? Hong Kong, and he told me basically, I don't know how free I am to talk, but put out or your parents will never get home.

Kim: Whoa!

Betty: Yeah. So I threw beer in his face at a company picnic and told them too bad, and he told me quit or else, so I decided to quit. At that point, I was devastated, because I loved working at the airport. It was probably my most fun job I ever had. So, I had a choice. I was approached by an attorney with a discrimination suit. It probably would've been one of the very first ones in this country, and I probably would've owned Northwest Airlines, but I wanted to pursue my career, and I had a great opportunity from Pan Am, which was the holy grail, and I chose to pursue my career rather than sue Northwest Airlines.

That opened up a whole new world to me. I had no idea, when they hired me, that we had travel benefits, which is pretty naïve. I had no clue. I knew we had some, but not like we had. I mean, we had passes to go anywhere in the world. So I abused my passes, and I wanted to go as far and wide as I could, and I wanted to go to places that were culturally totally diverse from what I was raised in.

I worked for four years for them, until I decided to become a mom. I traveled far and wide to places like Afghanistan. That was my first choice, because I had no idea what it was like. Back then, there was no internet, of course, and no books, except there was one book on Afghanistan that was completely wrong. Anyways, so I took my husband and I, and we went over there, and that's where I discovered everybody wasn't like me, and the women were wearing what they called chadris, which we think of burqa today, and well, that was my first experience with foreign, and I wanted to blend into it. I never really thought about being a woman traveling. I was with my husband, of course, which buffered me. But the first clue came when we were up in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, up in the north. We collected oriental rugs, and one of the rug dealers offered to buy me from my husband. When we eventually got a divorce, he said, "I should've sold you in Mazar-i-Sharif."

Also, during those times, blonde women that worked for Pan Am were being sold into white slavery in Istanbul. It was a whole different world back then, but I just loved it.

Kim: Tell me about that. White women were being sold into slavery? Literally?

Betty: Yeah, literally. The stewardesses ... I wasn't a stewardess with Pan Am, by the way. I was in reservations, but yeah. There was a big market for blonde women in the Middle East, so flight attendants were disappearing. They were disappearing. I mean, there was traffic. But things have changed. Now, that I look back in retrospect, it just gives me chills when I see women flying airplanes, jet captains. The first time I saw that, I mean, I just wanted to hug her. Compared to the little girl from Northwest Airlines at O'Hare field in Chicago who was barely allowed to ramp an airplane or haul a bag, and now look what women are doing.

Kim: So from a conservative Jewish background, what were your parents thinking as you were blazing this trail?

Betty: At first, they were amused. They couldn't believe it. Then they got travel benefits, so I created monsters. I found out what I came from. They went all over the world, and when I wanted to retire from Pan Am and have a child, they said, "Oh, no, no. Please give us another year or two."

So it's exposure. It's having the ability. It's a privilege. I've just been very, very fortunate, because I've had these opportunities. Most people never have them. It's made me who I am today. But our background is interesting. We're part Romanian, so maybe I have some Gypsy background. I don't know.

Kim: I've used the term trailblazer, reflecting on your life so far. Do you believe that you are?

Betty: Yeah. Yeah. I have a mission. I never really knew it. My mission was purely selfish when I first started out. If it was there, I wanted to go see it. Now, yeah, it's a giving back. It's my giving back stage, and trailblazer in that I want other people to be trailblazers. I want them to feel what I felt. I want them to see, and I want, mostly ... this is prejudice. It's not only women against men, but prejudice is differences, and I love the horizons that have been opened to me, and it's created more of an open mind than people who don't travel. You've heard the expression, those who don't travel, it's like reading a book and you've only read one page.

Kim: Yeah.

Betty: Exposure's everything, and I'm just honored to be able to help people become exposed.

Kim: Betty still works in the travel industry curating packages designed for senior adventurers. She's just taken a group of women on safari in Kenya and to Qatar, which is the first time this particular group of women had been to the Middle East, and thanks to Elise from Unearth Women, who we will chat to later in the episode for putting me in touch with Betty.

It would've been the perfect segue into our chat with Glory from Muslim Travel Rocks, but sadly Glory's been unwell, and she's also had illness in her family, so we couldn't chat as planned, and we wish her well.

But, a 2018 report from CresentRating, the Halal travel frontier 2018 highlight the travel trends in the Halal travel industry, and one of the top trends included the continued rise of female Muslim millennial travelers. Shamilka Rasheed is a writer for CresentRating, and she says destinations and service providers alike are being encouraged to identify the needs and concerns of the Muslim female travel market when creating travel products and services. So I think it's worth exploring this trend in future episodes.

I've mentioned Elise. She's the publisher and co-founder of Unearth Women. It is a digital and hard copy magazine, which I love, focusing solely on women in travel. So, Elise, why did you see a need for this publication?

Elise: Sure. So women making up more than 70% of the travel consumer base, and 85% of all travel purchasing decisions, but most of travel publications are founded, edited, contributed to by men, and so it's a very male-centric sort of sphere and universe. Sexism in the travel industry is compounded by wide spread lack of diversity and inclusivity, particularly for minority women. So we saw a clear gap in the travel industry where the needs and the interests of female travelers are not being properly addressed, and the stories of women are not necessarily being highlighted, so we started Unearth Women with the desire to champion women's stories, and really speak out about women's issues the world over that are often overlooked by the mainstream media.

That's why we're sharing our stories and the stories of other women who are traveling, because we believe that visibility leads to normalcy, and normalcy leads to inclusivity. So, if we can champion and highlight and acknowledge that not every ... the average traveler is not a male who is just graduated from college and is out backpacking in Europe, but rather a woman in her late 30s, early 40s traveling by herself, I think we can really change the conversation around what travel is, what it means, who it appeals to, and whose stories we are highlighting and showing as valid.

Kim: Well, what are some of your favorite stories that you've uncovered?

Elise: It's kind of hard, because thinking about a question like that, looking at all the different content that we have, there are just so many phenomenal and impactful, inspiring, and empowering stories of women out there, and often I feel like you don't have to look very hard to find real gems. But from what we currently have on our website,, there's a photo essay about the Rohingya crisis and the Muslim women who are living in the refugee camps. While that story had sort of been passed ... it was sort of passed over by the mainstream media once the news broke, and then we went back and took a look at what's happening to women in these camps, and how religion, and gender, and economic disparity, I guess, plays a role for these women. It's a beautiful essay, and it's heartbreaking, but it's such an important story to tell, because you're able to go back and say once the headline is done, there's still real people back there, and how do we connect with them, how do we help them, and how do we share their stories? So that's one that I was particularly enamored with.

Another is the Black Mambas, and it's all female anti-poaching unit in South Africa. What's phenomenal about these women is one, that it's all women, and then two, they don't carry guns with them. They're keeping poachers at bay successfully without the use of guns, and that's a really, really wonderful story.

Kim: Now, on your site, you have a Women to Watch page. How do you find them?

Elise: Sure. It's kind of a two-way street. Sometimes we run into certain women with phenomenal stories, and the women's travel community is relatively small, and people are always wanting to share each other's stories, so we hear all the time oh, you should talk to so-and-so about this thing, or you should really reach out to this person because they have great contacts. That's one directional way that we get information about women who are out there doing really interesting things, and then also we have a lot of freelancers and staff writers, and they'll pitch us stories for us to come up with. Again, as I said before, there are so many stories out there that really you don't have to look very far.

So we kind of ask ourselves, is it interesting, is it enlightening, or inspiring? If it meets those criteria, then we're interested. We tend to gravitate towards women who are combating the -isms or empowering other women.

Kim: Well, I'm guilty. I actually use your site to look for great interviews for our podcast.

Elise: That's great. I mean, that's exactly what we're looking for, right? Is for us to be able to highlight these stories that are not being covered anywhere else, and they are so interesting and so empowering, and it's like when you have all these different examples of women helping other women, it's infectious. It's so exciting, and there isn't a day that I wake up and I'm not so grateful to be working on this project, because it's just the best thing.

Kim: Okay. How do you access your page, and how would you like people to use it?

Elise: You can go to, and it is our digital publication that is populated with new stories all the time. Then from there you can also find our print publication, also of the same title, Unearth Women. It's perfect for anyone who's looking for city guides that are kind of off the beaten path, stories of women that you wouldn't see in the mainstream media, and a new section that we just launched is Brave New Eats, which focuses on the culinary world and the women who are doing great things there. So, I just would encourage anyone to go to, and poke around, and really get to know women in the travel sphere, because the only way that we're going to get a seat at the table is by working together.

Kim: All right. As we wrap up, let's touch on something Elise said at the very start of our chat. Visibility leads to normalcy, and normalcy leads to inclusivity. So if we can champion, and highlight, and acknowledge the average traveler is not a male who's just graduated from college, but rather a woman traveling by herself, we can really change the conversation around what travel is. So let's go to our World Nomad's team for their interpretation of that.

Ellen: Hi, my name's Ellen, and I am an editorial producer with the North America office of World Nomads. One of the things I do for World Nomads is I head up our stories section. These are first-hand narratives about travel experiences. They really get to the heart of why we travel, the motivations behind it, and what we learn. I think we've had about 50 contributors provide stories for us so far, and over half of them are women. That's not because I'm seeking out any particular number of contributors, it's just that there are lots of women out there who travel and have great stories to tell. These are women, they're often traveling solo, they're pushing their boundaries, they're facing their fears sometimes. They're making connections, and one of the things about solo travel, whether you're a woman or a man, is it does help you break out of your zone. If you're traveling with a friend, or you're going to maybe talk to each other, but when you're traveling alone, you're by nature going to have more personal encounters.

The fact, or if there is a perception, that the backpackers are all male and 25, and that's the only people that are traveling, that's absolutely not true. Some of the stories are women in their 20s, or women in their 60s, or anywhere in between, and they're sometimes going places like Morocco, or India, or on a long road trip by themselves that, yeah, maybe they're a little nervous to do it, but that's how you grow, and that's part of the beauty of travel is it really helps you gain more independence.

We have a lot of articles on the site about solo travel in particular for women, because we do want women to feel comfortable, and inspired, and empowered to travel wherever in the world. Of course, to do it safely, and make ... but not to feel like that they're limited in their ability to travel and see the world.

Millie: I'm [Millie 00:32:47], an editorial producer for the Explore section of World Nomads, and I commission, I'd like to say hundreds of writers a year, and I find that statement really interesting, because a vast majority of the writers that pitch articles to us are women. I often find it really difficult to find males writers. So hearing that people still believe the average male traveler ... I mean, sorry. The average traveler is a male, it baffles me. But then again, maybe the male writing pitches have been lost, or maybe they just aren't that into travel writing.

Kim: Could it be a male/female thing? Females like to over think things sometimes. We like to document everything. We're the ones that put the photo books together. Could it be that men just can't be bothered?

Millie: It could be, and I would love to look into that further. Maybe males are more into photography, or videography, or something. I'm not too sure, but I genuinely do find so many more articles pitches coming from women than I do men.

Kim: [Allie 00:32:48], your role here at World Nomads?

Allie: I look after travel safety, so effectively I'm trying to make sure people have a safe and fun time without injuring or killing themselves, and need to claim on travel insurance.

Kim: Now, we talked at the top of the podcast about the effect that World Nomads has a category that is Women in Travel, and you write a lot for that category. Should we not be having a category for traveling as a male?

Allie: I think ... with women's safety, like women traveling the world, women actually have different concerns when it comes to their own safety than men. For example, women can be traveling on public transport like a bus or a train in a country. They can be catcalled, they can be harassed. Basically in some countries around the world, it's still very patriarchal and/or conservative, and some countries have a very poor attitude to women, unfortunately, still, and there are also some countries where women's rights are pretty much minimal.

Basically, it boils down to common sense. If you're going out and having a night out, and maybe you are a solo traveler, or maybe you're traveling with friends, regardless of what's going on, use your brain. Don't get too tanked to the point where you can't remember where your hostel or your hotel is, and you can't get home, and you potentially could end up in a bad situation where in some cases it's been reported in places like Thailand and other places around the world, people have ended up dead, in worst case scenarios. A lot of the time, unfortunately, they usually just get fleeced of their belongings, and then they wake up the next morning wondering what happened. Regardless of what every age you are, whether you're male or female, just yeah, look after you and take some personal responsibility for your own safety, because unfortunately, there are people out there who will take advantage of you. But at the end of the day, as well, not everybody out there who's in another country around the world is out there to get you.

Kim: Millie, if there are blokes listening and they would like to pitch you a story, how do they contact you?

Millie: How about they get in touch with you at [email protected]?

Kim: Yeah, thanks for that. I'll shoot it across. Just give me a little bit more work to do, girls. Thanks for that.

Allie: [crosstalk 00:35:58]-

Millie: Oo, I got one more thing that I thought I'd say. When I spoke to Mark yesterday, and I told him the statement about everyone believing the average traveler is a male who's just graduated from college, he looked at me and he said, "What the hell? Are you kidding me? Remember how many solo women we saw traveling around South America? The dudes weren't doing that." Come to think of it, I met so many solo female travelers than I did men. I don't know if that's because men travel in groups, or maybe I just didn't meet all of the solo travelers, but it does seem like it's a big trend now, and I think that's a really cool thing, because women are now out there hiking solo in the Himalayas, and climbing mountains with groups of macho men, and catching dodgy trains and buses across India by themselves, and nobody thought that women would be doing that now back in the '70s, '80s, and '90s, so.

Kim: Those stats are adding up, despite the perception.

Millie: Yeah, and I think it's really cool to see now that women are just getting out there and traveling. But as Allie said, you've just got to pack your brain.

Allie: A couple of other important things, too. For instance, you can travel to some countries around the world, and the place has got a really poor attitude towards, basically, taking a report from someone who's been to a crime, e.g. women, and often they'll be victim blaming, so rather than actually asking the woman, "Oh, what happened?" And actually dealing with the root cause, so encouraging a change in societal culture or attitudes, they often will say that one little golden line, "What were you doing alone?"

Millie: Minding my own business.

Allie: Exactly, and more often than not, it's just been a case where the woman has been minding her own business, walking down the street, and some person has just felt the need to reach out and grope them. And as I said before, it's not a perfect world. We do have to pack your brain. Some places you do have to dress conservatively. Be smart. Don't tell people where you're staying. Don't talk about what you're doing and that sort of thing. Be mindful.

The other issue is that some women of even other colors and also of other sexualities experiencing even different concerns to the average straight, white woman. I mean, there's young African women traveling into Asia who are looked down upon, and not even answered, or treated like crap because they're African, and unfortunately there's that stereotype where they're African, they're inferior. It's the whole they're still slaves mentality, and that's wrong, and it shouldn't be happening, but in saying that, it also happens in other countries, as well.

Kim: Thank you, girls. Really appreciate your input, and hope you enjoy the episode.

Millie: Thanks, Kim.

Allie: Thanks, Kim.

Kim: Well, that wraps up our episode exploring women in travel, and please, if you've got any feedback or experiences that you've had that you'd like to share with us, email [email protected]

Phil: You can get the World Nomads podcast on iTunes, or download the Google podcast app. Make sure you subscribe, and as Kim said, if you have any feedback, please do get in touch.

Kim: Negative or positive.

Phil: We'd love to hear it all. Might ignore the negative stuff. We'll just talk about you behind your back.

Kim: Isn't he awful, girls? Oh, and boys listening. Next week, we feature an amazing nomad, environmentalist, Bob [Brown 00:39:14].

Phil: Wow.

Speaker 1: The World Nomads podcast, explore your boundaries.

Related articles

No Comments

Add a Comment