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WHILE RESEARCHING topics for International Women’s Day, I came across this infographic by momondo (below) that depicts the women whose achievements have not just inspired, but set the precedent for, women traveling. It made me think about the women who inspired me to travel. They continue to stand out in my mind and inform the how and why I travel the way I do.
The first time my mother flew on a plane she was 18 years old, emigrating from Jamaica to Canada. After graduating high school, she worked hard to pay for travel to Europe, the USA, and back to the Caribbean again. Years later, she would have me and at about 6 months old, I would be taken on my first international flight. Not only was my mom an independent female traveler — she sparked the wanderlust in me, too.
My third-year roommate
Every year of university, my good friend Heather would work in between classes to save up all of her money to spend a month in France and backpack Europe. After the end of university, she spent months backpacking Southeast Asia. Twenty-seven countries later, I still love listening to her stories of hang gliding in Austria, full-moon parties in Thailand, and too many gyros in Greece. The month we spent on a summer abroad together in France continues to be one of my fondest travel memories. It’s also an experience I never would have had if she hadn’t convinced me to!
Zora Neale Hurston
‘Traveler’ may not immediately come to mind when you say the name Zora Neale Hurston, but she did cultural anthropological research in the Caribbean and American South. I studied her research and her fiction work in university, and she had an authenticity in her insights that could only be gained from an extended experience away from home. It showed me you can’t truly know a place by reading about it, or even going there and seeing prescribed places. You have to be a part of that place, and it’s for that reason I love slow travel and living abroad — I get to feel part traveler, part anthropologist.
The ability to explore the world was once a freedom allowed only to men – and it still is in many parts of the world. For those who have this privilege, we shouldn’t take it for granted. We should look back to the women who blazed this trail for us while looking ahead to the next feats we need to achieve. Which women inspired you to travel?