Before we jump into this chat about the super cool travel women I met recently, I just want you all to know a few things: this isn't sponsored, the individuals and organizations I'm mentioning don't know I'm doing this (and in a few cases, don't necessarily know who I am), and lastly.... I might be a little drunk. Ok, I am a little drunk. And by "drunk" I mean had a two glasses of wine at the end of the event (and the a beer when I got back to my hotel in the interest of staying tapped into the the giddy feeling that I was sporting all weekend). This past weekend (March 9-11, 2018) I was able to attend the Women's Travel Fest in New York. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that the weekend was full of heavy carbs and fangirling over some of the presenters. And though there were a few that I knew and was super excited about, there were also a good few that I hadn't yet heard of, but am certainly glad I know about now. So what does this all have to do with me being a little drunk writing a blog post? Look, audience. Can I call you 'dience. I'm going to call you 'dience. It's not all about me. As much as I love offering interesting stories and helpful ideas, there are loads of other travel writers and professionals doing the same thing and I want to make sure you're aware of them. Many of these really incredible ladies are pretty big names in the travel space, so hopefully you see some names you know as well as a few new folks to follow!
I need to admit that I had only been peripherally aware of her prior to the Women in Travel Summit 2017. The was the keynote speaker on the first day and I really love her "tell it like it is" style. At WTFest this year, I learned about her journey from being a teacher to her current status as a Travel Channel host and well-respected travel blogger. If you didn't see it yet, you should read her piece about the continued lack of diversity in the travel blogging space - and she includes a few solutions (which I love). Read that piece here! Also, something totally random that I love: her diction is incredible. She speaks so clearly and without filler. She identifies as "a talker"- as do I - and as a fellow public-speaking fanatic, Oneika = goals. Follow along with Oneika on Instagram, Facebook, and check out her series One Bag and You're Out!
Allison and Danielle of WHOA Travel
Allison Fleece and Danielle Thornton are very cool ladies who founded Women High on Adventure (WHOA). They make adventure travel more accessible to women by changing the narrative around what it means to be adventurous. One thing that stood out during their panel was that they had climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro a combined 10 (maybe 12?) times! That's insane- but the good kind of insane. I love that for each group they bring, they sponsor a local to do the climb as well. It's not just Kili, though! They have a handful of other adventure-packed offerings for women so please check them out! WHOA has a handful of cool tours to check out! You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram!
If that name sounds familiar to you, I'm not surprised. In August 2008, she was kidnapped (along with Australian photographer Nigel Brennan) while working as a journalist in Somalia. She was held captive through November 2009 and both were eventually released after a ransom payment had been made. I have to admit.... I ran the gamut of emotions while listening to her address. There were so many different facets to her story: love of travel, desire to leave an unhappy home/life situation, sorry, distress, emotional resilience, and forgiveness were all big points that were touched upon. Watch a snippet of her presentation on her website. I could go on and (terribly) reiterate what she shared with us, but I would highly recommend that you seek out her book, A House in the Sky, for the whole story. I cried twice during her speech, and I will undoubtedly ruin a few of her book's pages with more "no, I'm not crying....." tears. I linked her book above, but you can also find Amanda on all the socials (but appears to be most active on Twitter, Facebook)!
'dience.... if you don't know The Blog Abroad.... you need to get out. Just kidding, you can stay. There are a handful of big names in the travel blogging space that I really admire for their ability to share quality and interesting content - while also sharing personality. Its no secret that I use blogs to plan my trips, and sure, I have no beef with the types of articles that are dry, to-the-point lists of things to see/do/eat. However, what entices me to follow and return to someone's site is if they have personality and interesting stories and perspectives to shares. I guess that's a quality (though done a little differently) that Gloria and Oneika share. Another thing I really respect is that she shows the behind the scenes action: how she uses her remote for solo pictures- or how her hotel room looks like her suitcase exploded within 2.5 seconds of checking-in. THAT really resonates with me; someone who shares how beautiful, but totally chaotic and messy travel (and travel blogging) can be. She also, and I hope to be able to do myself one day, does what she can to "send the elevator back down" by sharing knowledge and insight about the industry with the new and growing bloggers. Follow Gloria on Instagram - and make sure you watch her stories! She's on Facebook and Twitter, too!
Ok, I need to admit something a little embarrassing. And yes, more embarrassing than my current intoxicated state. Geez, 'dience, cut me some slack, k? I knew exactly who Kellee Set Go was, but had totally forgotten her last name, so even though she was on the itinerary and I should've been tipped off by her spelling of "Kellee" - I wasn't. So when I was in the back of the room and heard her voice, I spun around was was audibly like "holy sh!t." Kellee is one of the most badass travel ladies out there. Forget for a second that she has more than one show with the Travel Channel (Mysterious Islands and The Trip 2018). She's the ultimate example of dedicating to a goal, and though she encountered some negative people and loads of hurdles, is a certified diver AND a pilot. One thing she touched on was that there was a lot of negativity and "I didn't think you would be able to do it" thrown at her, but she flipped those negative vibes into motivation. And she was seriously so lovely to meet in person; very kind with her words but also a total rock star presence. Obviously you need to keep an eye out for her show Mysterious Islands on the Travel Channel, but if you're not yet familiar with who shes, I recommend watching this video interview. She can be found on Twitter, Facebook, IG, and duh.... on TV!
I met Ashley last year and it was another case of "I knew her online presence before figuring out who she was." She had been setting up to interview attendees in the Global Member Lounge at the Women in Travel Summit (she created this fabulous promo video!). When I inquired about where she blogged (and I literally just embarrassed-laughed to myself with this memory) and she said Travel Lushes I immediately felt the blood rush to my face because I absolutely adore her Instagram (great photos and captions that go deeper than just some topical inspo-quote). If you read my post about The Good in 2017, then you'll already know this story. Ashley asked if I wanted to be interviewed and I, not being one to say no to being on camera, agreed. A few questions later we were done and she complimented me for being "good on camera" - I guess though I use them regularly in normal conversation, I somehow eliminate filler words (like, um, uh) from my speech. She was someone I ran into briefly at the WTFest and she'd just such a lovely person that you need to go take in some of her content. I already mentioned that I lover Ashley's IG account, but I also highly recommend her road trip series in the Tesla!
[Give me a sec... I need another drink to keep this fangushing going... just, like, imagine elevator music for another 45 seconds or something. On second thought, maybe I am drunk enough?]
Ever heard of Hopscotch the Globe? Yeah - this is that Kristen. I have no idea how I first encountered her content (it was probably Youtube), but she has an incredible knack for video- and not just the technical end. She knows what makes for a god video/story and cuts footage together that shows a lot of care and thought. What I mean by that is: it's so easy just to take a lot of videos and string them together; but that's not what you're getting at Hopscotch the Globe. You find clever, purposeful content that tells some kind of story. I mean, obviously I'm into Kristen's creative output - but what really impressed me at Women's Travel Fest was that she clearly also has a mind for business. During her session about working with brands, she discussed a few examples of campaigns she had worked on- and even as someone who technically shares the same "space" (being a blogger who also occasionally works on collabs), how she manages the contact, follow-up, and negotiation was really eye-opening. It became very clear that though she excels at the creative side, she also has a very sharp business-mind... and it blew my mind a little knowing all the hard work that goes into both areas. Kristen (and her husband Siya and their pup, Atlas) dominate the social spread: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.
I met Jess at a Wanderful Boston meetup in the winter of 2016/17. I remember hearing about this super cool travel company she had started, and was delighted when I ran into her at WITS 2017, and then again at WTFest this year. The concept behind Purposeful Nomad is really cool. They believe in going beyond the topical tourist experience and carefully curate their trips to educate and empower the women on their adventures. They cover a handful of different places, so if you're looking to have a more in-depth experience next time you go abroad, definitely take a peek at what they've got to offer. Of course you can visit the Purposeful Nomad website to see their tours- but if you want to learn more about them and their community, check out the Instagram and Facebook.
Yvette McQueen, MD
I had never heard of anything like what Yvette is doing. I mean, I'm sure others exist, but meeting a concierge doctor for travelers was super cool. She has a background in emergency medicine and focuses on helping travelers know what they need before and during their trips abroad. She also has a blog that discusses common problems for travelers - stuff like jetlag and post-travel illness (I always seems to get sick as soon as I get home). Her niche is so unique, but also super important because, well, health is.... everything. I highly recommend checking her out. Definitely read some of her posts about travel wellness (found here on her website). Twitter would be a great place to reach out whit questions- and of course she has an Instagram!
Kelly is the founder of the Women's Travel Fest and I had bet her very briefly at the Impact Travel Alliance Summit (formerly Travel+SocialGood). I was pretty impressed with the whole fest weekend and I think she has built something cool and unique in the travel space. It's an event that works for both bloggers and general travel enthusiasts - and the speaker lineup was incredible. I kept trying to approach her throughout the weekend to say hi and (re) intro myself, but she constantly had a stream of people flocking to her. I hope to be that magnetic someday! She hosted a few of the panels over the weekend and acted as the main MC, and I have to say - she's pretty hilarious. The one-offs and quips were so fast and natural that if she ever decides to shift careers, she should definitely consider being a professional conference MC. She has her hand in so many different projects and you should check them all out: Damesly, Go! Girl Guides, Women's Travel Fest, and of course- her own Insta!
Ok. I almost blurtlaughed when I met Jennifer. She walked up to me and was just like "Hi!" and introduced herself. She was with Cassandra from Travel Italian Style who said, "She wants to make sure she meets as many people as possible here." And I almost died because that is exactly what I do! I'll march right up to people and without hesitation, either intro myself or ask who they are. It was refreshing to know that I'm not alone. Jennifer runs The Travel Women, a community to empower women to travel outside of their comfort zone. Her site has loads of cool content- and includes both articles and video (which I totally appreciate- love mixed media sites). I'm actually really excited because she's hosting a workshop on 360 video at the Women in Travel Summit in May. I'm looking to get more into video (I like writing, but I love talking, sooo.....) so it'll be super interesting to hear someone discuss such a new and innovative method of documenting travels. I feel like I need to take a nap after just researching all the socials Jen/The Travel Women exist on! (takes a deep breath) Here we go: the website, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Facebook.
I met so many interesting women at Women's Travel Fest.... and I wish I had the time to brag about them all. The coolest part was that it was a great mixture of professionals, hopefuls, and "regular" travelers. Very much looking forward to next year's event and hopefully crossing paths with my some of the interesting people I met! I think the only negative was that now I have like 30 more people I need to consistently
- Have you met any of your travel (or blogging!) idols?
- If you haven't met any yet, who would you be the most excited to meet in person?
- What is your #1 travel-goal?