Happy International Women’s Day! International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
Women are exploring the world now more than ever before. Nearly two-thirds of travelers today are women, with women making 80% of all travel decisions.
We at Zephyr are lucky to be surrounded by an incredible amount of adventurous, strong women both within our company and our alumnae. To celebrate these awesome women, we asked a few of adventuresses how travel has empowered them throughout their lives. Check it out!
About 8 years ago, I found myself single and living alone, having successfully launched my children. I always wanted to “see the world” and now was the time to do just that. My first solo trip was to Chile and Argentina. I can’t tell you how scared I was to be going halfway around the world by myself. But I was determined and I persisted! I am so happy I did. I have since been on many solo trips, to all different countries and cultures with Zephyr Adventures, including South Africa, Peru, Italy, Baja California, Portugal, Croatia, and Slovenia, Montana (and soon I’ll be going to Oregon).
I have experienced such a wide variety of activities and adventures which I never would have dreamed I could have accomplished! It’s hard to describe the feeling of freedom, independence and strength (both physical and emotional) traveling alone on active/adventure trips gives me. I have developed an ability to take care of ME and only me; a process that took a lot of getting used to since I spent my adult life caring for others (like my children and husband). Once I figured it out, it was like nirvana.
I love the feeling of removing myself from my day to day life and dropping down into some foreign land where I can experience the local culture and customs. Zephyr Adventures gives me the opportunity to do just that while meeting new people, making new friends, trying new foods, and pushing my limits in all different ways. What a rush!
I have always been a bit of a chicken shit but as I have gotten older I have actually become less risk-averse. I attribute it to traveling more, traveling with other women and traveling on trips led by women – all of which have led to my wanting to and then doing things I never would have tried before – and mostly succeeding at them (not always, which isn’t so bad) – it’s been great!!! So glad I got to this point while I still have some life left! Of course, playing basketball helps too!
There is no question in my mind that travel had given me so much over the last 20+ years. It has empowered me in a way that I would have never imagined or expected and both enhanced and enriched my life tenfold.
Many years ago after coming to the realization that very few of my close friends and/or relatives were interested in doing active travel vacations, I made a conscious decision to go on a group active tour by myself. Not just any tour but a tour that actually focused on rollerblading!
After chatting with the owner of Zephyr Adventures, Allan Wright, who assured me that many individuals came on Zephyr tours by themselves, I decided to take the plunge and go “solo”. It’s a decision that I have never regretted and never looked back from. It has empowered me and given me the confidence to complete physical activities that I never thought were possible. This includes (just to name a few): rollerblading along the Mosel River in Germany, cycling up mountains in Gran Canaria, hiking coast to coast in northern England along Hadrian’s Wall, completing not 1 but 2 bike tours across the entire country of Italy (northern and southern routes), scrambling up the rocks of Table Mountain in Cape Town South Africa, feeling the mist on my face as I trekked along the vibrant green fields in western Ireland, skating alongside a horse and buggy in the Amish countryside of Pennsylvania and running a either a 5 or 10K race in 5 Caribbean islands while on a cruise.
A wonderful offshoot of these incredible travel experiences has been the very special friendships I have developed over the years. I can truly say that active travel has blessed and enriched my life!
I travel partly because I wasn’t able to when I was younger. I had children early and I worked a lot. And I travel mostly because I need to. I’m a firm believer in having more beautiful memories than ugly ones and I get a lot of beautiful memories when I travel. I mostly travel solo because my friends and family really don’t get into adventure travel. I like going on tours because even if I’m traveling alone, I’m not by myself. This is the main reason why I travel with Zephyr. I get to be with like-minded, fun-loving, adventurous people!
I have always loved to go places and see new things and in my younger years, it was with family, college friends or my husband. Suddenly I am divorced, I become weirdly claustrophobic especially with planes and friends/family are busy with their own lives and families. I begin to think my travel days are in my rearview mirror.
Suddenly in early 2000, I read an article about a company that runs inline skating tours. Not sure what possessed me, except for the love of skating and I signed up for a Zephyr Switzerland skate trip. Heaven forbid I pick a domestic trip! My initial thoughts were I am traveling by myself, I am scared of the plane, I am probably going to be the last one skating in and in fact I will probably be skating alone but at least each night I will have dinner with like-minded people and we can talk about the day.
True to form on one particularly long day I had the owner drive me out to the path at 7:00 AM so I could begin skating before everyone else started. I met them at the boat at the end of the day but I made it. In spite of all my fears I learned I could ask for help from complete strangers with my broken German, I could push myself and do what it takes to get me to the end of the path and I learned that I could take a tumble and pick myself up and continue to skate forward.
Every trip I take I am still anxious, still nervous, still chubby but I know the sense of accomplishment I feel after each day, the thrill of being surrounded by nature and just doing is a hundred times better than sitting at home wishing for an awesome life.
When I look back at the last decade two things stand out – solo trips to Alaska and Australia. The Alaska tour [with a different company] was incredible. There was plenty of site seeing but little activity… so I planned several hikes for the time at Denali. I informed the guides, took a bus to the trail, hiked with another couple, got a picture of a giant moose next to the Denali Visitor Center sign and had dinner at a local pizza place. When I checked in at the hotel the clerk told me to call the guide immediately because he was so worried about me! I hiked on my own the next morning as well.
When I was sent to the Australia office for 14 days, not only did I commute to the office and site see in Sydney on my own, I took a 3-day trip to the Great Barrier Reef where I snorkeled the reef and toured the rainforest. Whenever I hesitate to try something new I think… hey wait a minute, didn’t I hike in Denali alone and spend 17 days in Australia by myself? How hard or scary can this be???
After the Alaska trip, I was fortunate to find Zephyr Adventures, the perfect blend of site seeing and activity for me. I loved all the adventures because I had to push myself beyond my comfort zone. I remember getting near the top of Estes Cone and stopping at the final rock scramble to reach the peak. I knew I would be petrified when I got up there. Plus, I would have a tough time coming back down. I remember Sonya telling me that I could do it and she would make sure I got back down. I made it. I didn’t stand up at the edge like my crazy friend Gale, but I made it!
I travel to see the natural wonders of our world, explore nature and experience regional culture. Active travel — biking, hiking, skating, canoeing from point A to B — allows me a slow-moving exploration to really notice my surroundings, meet new people and experience an area as it is truly is and not just as a tourist. I especially love taking a break from the action to pull out my sketchbook to capture my personal postcard, too. And, I’ve found traveling with an adventure travel company allows me to wander worry-free!