Supporting Women Through Travel

Travel can be a powerful tool. It can expand the mind, satisfies the need for wonderlust and be an empowering experience for anyone, including women. My mother travelled by herself to Europe aboard the Queen Mary back in 1952 and again in 1955 with me at six months old. That was not the norm of the time.

The generation of women in Canada born after the Second World War are the first generation to travel by themselves starting in the late 1960s. Today, there is no shortage of opportunities for women to travel solo or in groups. My daughter, nieces, cousins and friends travel around the world on their own regularly, to enjoy yoga retreats, wine and food tours, cultural exploration, volunteerism or to push their physical limits on grueling treks. 

We have noticed that everywhere we travel, there are always a significant number of women travelling solo or in pairs, including most recently at the resort in Puerto Vallarta from where I am writing this article. 

For people worried about travelling alone, there are countless organizations online or on social media organizing group travel, with some specific to women. Even in Fernie, there are various organizations that host or support group activities or travel. There are also a number of travel companies exclusively for women. One France tour utilizes women experts in the area of art, history, and fashion tying all of them into the impact women have made in these areas. Of course, these types of tours can be expensive costing over $6000 for two weeks not including flights.  

Too expensive for budget slow travellers like ourselves.

Travel businesses can open up more opportunities to women. I have recently discovered a website made up of women travel agents from around the world who for a small fee can help you plan your own bespoke travel trip. The agents have local knowledge of their areas and save days of research time when planning, finding those local gems you may have never heard of otherwise. 

In Boca Chica, a small island in Panama, the Italian expat we rented a villa from built homes for five Indigenous families who work for her with the stipulation that the children complete school to grade 12. She pays for the transportation of the children off the island to the mainland and their tuition for high school. School is free up to Grade 7. In Panama only fifty percent of children continue past Grade 7 and less than thirty percent finish high school. 

A friend of mine has been the resident biologist for small ship exploration tours to Borneo, Galapagos, Antarctica and other exotic places around the world for twenty plus years. She is responsible for the safety and well-being of the guests and operating the Zodiac to shore. There she leads the group through her program of discovering the flora, fauna and cultural activities of the area. 

When travelling, we have the opportunity to support women through how we choose to spend our travel dollars. Supporting local businesses owned by women is a good start. Not only can 
this investment help them to support their family, but it also can help them to gain access to education, credit, and opportunities to participate in society. 

Solo travel, Rio de Janeiro| Emily Pullen Photo