Celebrating the experience of travel and the reality of the road
THE INTERNET IS increasingly filled with picture-perfect, staged travel imagery, but for me the real joy of travel is the experience. The feelings of wonder, excitement, connection — and yes sometimes confusion, frustration, and banality. The whole glorious experience of travel, the highs and lows, the sweat and dust, the exhilaration and despair. All of it. This post showcases the reality of travel with photos of more than 40 women travellers of all shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities. If you’re like me and suffering from fake fatigue — or even if you’re not and just want to see women experiencing travel in all it’s variations — please enjoy.
When I asked for “real” photos of women travelling on my personal Facebook page and on Twitter, within two hours I had close to 50 – from some of the top bloggers out there. And by real, I mean photos that evoke the reality of being on the road and all the feelings and experiences of travel.
This is what I mean by “real women travellers.” Thanks so much to everyone who contributed a photo. (I have moved the discussion about the reason for this post, the context, to the end so as to showcase the women and keep the focus on the spirit of this post, which is meant to celebrate the experience of travel.)
Read more on Breathedreamgo
- Discovering women explorers
- The female travellers guide to being rude
- Ode to the lady traveller and why we need the WeGoSolo movement
I want to encourage women to face their fears, push their boundaries and reach their potential through solo female travel. Alice, Teacake Travels
“Real” women travellers encompass any female-identifying person who goes on a trip, regardless of their body type, dress size, race, choice of clothing/fashion sense, and whether or not they choose to set up their shots or put on makeup. As women, we should always seek to support and empower our sisters in travel. Thus, let’s celebrate ALL types of female travellers, while promoting and encouraging responsible and immersive experiences on the road. – Oneika Raymond
Are you a “real woman traveller?” Join the fun!
If you want to contribute a photo, join the Facebook discussion here!
The women travellers
Oneika Raymond is a travel journalist, blogger at OneikatheTraveller, and host for Travel Channel who seeks to empower women and people of colour to live their best lives abroad.
Lola Akinmade is an award-winning travel writer, author, and National Geographic Creative photographer.
Gemma Armit, the Scotland travel blogger, is the fingers and lens behind the incredibly useful travel site Two Scots Abroad and part owner of the SEO support site and consultancy team, Make Traffic Happen.
Kristin Amico is a travel and food writer who has been living nomadically for the last year. Her travels have taken her across Europe, Southeast Asia, and India.
Paroma Chravarty is a scientist by profession living in San Francisco and blogs at yrofthemonkey.com about “my travels, food, pet friendly destinations and insider guides to my beautiful city.”
Soumya Nambiar is an entrepreneur, avid solo female Indian traveller, blogger, bookworm, foodie from Bangalore, India and she writes at Travel, Books and Food.
Divyakshi Gupta is a door lover who loves long road trips, collecting stories and exploring cultures, places, meeting people and her own self. Documenting her stories on Quirky Wanderer.
Kelly Campbell is a co-founder of The Village Experience and led 20 socially responsible tourists around Bali for the month of June. Check out her travels at Experience the Village.
Archana Singh is brand strategist turned Travel Journalist who loves to travel to offbeat places in search of untold stories. She blogs at Travel See Write.
Alex Reynolds is a full-time backpacker, photographer, and kulfi addict who’s traveled from Kolkata to Kabul, Bangladesh to Brazil, blogging about it along the way at Lost With Purpose.
Alice Teacake is a kickass solo adventure chick encouraging women to face their fears to reach their full potential. She blogs at Teacake Travels.
Johanna Read is a Canadian freelance writer/photographer specializing in travel, food, and responsible tourism. Find links to her published stories at TravelEater.net and her unstaged photos on Instagram at TravelEaterJohanna
Corinne McDermott shares “a photo from our very first trip with our daughter, the one that inspired me to create Have Baby Will Travel.
I can’t believe it’s been over 11 years since that trip, and how tough it must be these days for new moms to feel they need to aspire to be Insta-perfect.” Corinne McDermott
Stephanie Spencer shares her geektastic adventures on her blog A Nerd at Large.
Keri Hedrick is a travel blogging mum of three. Brought up in Australia, she now calls Abu Dhabi home and adores travelling throughout the Middle East, sharing her passion for adventure with her family and followers at Our Globetrotters.
Karilyn Owen, from No Back Home, is a gifted napper, giggler and traveling companion to a nature obsessed 7 year old.
Micki Kosman writes about travel, adventure, family and fun with her husband Charles on their family travel blog, The Barefoot Nomad.
Mary Jo Manzanares is a luxury and lifestyle travel blogger and podcaster living in Seattle, with a bag packed, ready for the next great adventure. She blogs at Travelling with MJ.
Teja is an environmental scientist (to which she admits) and an engineer (which she disowns), on an odyssey for homes in a thousand strange places. She blogs at Teja on the Horizon
Judy Smith is originally from Australia, travelling in Asia since 1988, couldn’t care less what I look like on the road!
Deepti Asthana is a travel and documentary photographer based out of Mumbai. She tells the stories of Indian women under an umbrella project Women of India. Her travel blog has stories of her solo adventure from the places that are less travelled.
Lindsay Groves is a Toronto-based Sommelier, wine educator and avid traveller. Her site is Lindsay Groves.
Cheryl Van Daele. “Travel is not about the coiffured hair and designer clothes, it is about your personal memory of places that you have been blessed to see.”
Carol Perehudoff is the award-winning writer and publisher of WanderingCarol, an unpretentious guide to luxury travel where adventure (and often fear) goes hand-in-hand with luxe hotels.
Dr. Cacinda Maloney of PointsandTravel loves transformational travel that is rich in cultural experiences.
Gwen McCauley is a writer & tour guide divides her time between Nova Scotia and Algarve, Portugal. She loves helping others discover the rich culinary delights and off-the-beaten-path locales in these very special parts of the world. Find her at Gwen McCauley.
Margarita Ibbott is a Canadian 50+, multi-generational and girls getaway travel blogger. She explores with her young adult children, her mother and sometimes all all alone (just to get away). Her views on fashion and travel: As a 50+ traveller, making a fashion statement DOES NOT take precedence over comfort. She is at DownshiftingPRO.
Betsy Wuebker has been travel blogging for ten years at PassingThru.com
Elaine Masters, responsible travel blogger, Boomer scuba diver, and videographer on a mission to help gals and their pals go far, often and do it well. Tripwellgal.com
Annika is a travel blogger and author of Solo Trip, a book for solo travellers and those who want to become one. She travels in pursuit of Nemo, noodles, and champagne and will hug the occasional camel on the way. Check out her post on the real women travellers of Instagram.
Dorene Wharton is a marketing consultant, traveler, blogger, redefining mid-life by helping people who feel stuck to make conscious changes in their life, work and travel at TravelLifeX.com
Lauren Yakiwchuk travelled to Kenya with a small group of adventurous women to volunteer at a wildlife conservancy. She’s pictured with Nora Livingstone (CEO of Animal Experience International) after they collected numerous wire snares scattered around the conservancy by animal poachers. Every wire snare collected was potentially one life saved.
Aarti Krishnakumar is a travel blogger who loves escaping to new destinations to experience all that the place has to offer.
Nisha Jha is a bilingual travel writer and Travel blogger at Lemonicks.
Sonia Wilson is a Franco-American musician from Paris, currently living in Auckland, New Zealand, after meeting her love partner there while on an extensive solo round-the-world trip in 2013.
Stephanie Yoder. “One of my first and most exciting solo trips was to Laos in 2011. Here I am at the Plain of Jars, hot, sweaty and proud. ” Stephanie asks, Why Wait to See the World.
Along with her husband, Bret Love, photographer/videographer Mary Gabbett is the co-founder of Green Global Travel, one of the world’s leading websites devoted to ecotourism and conservation.
Jessica Korteman is a travel writer and married solo traveler who founded Travel Solo Anyway, a blog that encourages both women and men to travel solo regardless of marital status, age, children, or what others have to say about it.”
Real photos of women travellers are rough and tough and sometimes that means no makeup. Erin Holmes
Erin Holmes. “I’m Erin, a thrill seeker who has explored the world for the last five years non-stop with her two kids. But what happens when you stop nomadic travel? How does an abnormal family fit into a normal world? We invite you to explore with us at Explore With Erin. “
Grasya loves travel, coffee, reading books, and food trips. Catch her haggling in the wet market, riding tricycles or jeeps while managing different projects and investments online. More on Grasya.
Anubhuti is a food and travel who feels strongly (and also writes) about self-image, emotional and mental health, and we’ll being. She is working on her book, a repository of age old home recipes, and regularly writes for the The Hindu and The week and chronicles her stories on her website ThatGirlinMuddyBoots.
Namita Kulkarni is a Yoga teacher, traveler, writer from India. “Going where I’ve never been, chasing (mis)adventures, generally seizing the day. And living to share the tale.” She blogs at Radically Ever After.
Christina is a single lady traveler with a blog and an edge: www.catchchris.com
Andra Padureanu writes backpacking stories and also stories infused with cultural influences from her travels in Asia. Her blog is Our World to Wander.
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Fashion, travel, and the social media influencer
I’ve been a traveller and travel blogger for about 12 years, since my first trip to India in 2005. At that time, there was no such thing as a professional travel blogger, and the term social media influencer was years away from arising from the digital juggernaut. I’ve seen a lot of changes in that time and some are very positive. In some ways, the boom in travel blogging, travel influencers, and Instagram influencers has made the world a smaller place as images, stories, and information is shared about the world we live in. There are many people interested in responsible travel and sharing best practises about how to travel more mindfully of the impact we have on culture and the environment.
Other trends are perhaps not so positive and have probably contributed to over-tourism, such as the mania for garnering likes and followers by taking selfies and picture-perfect photos at “the world’s most instagrammable places.” Fashion has had a huge influence on travel influencers in recent years, especially among women, and has led to a proliferation of feeds full of (mostly) young people using destinations as backdrops. They hike in ballgowns, run in flowing dresses, and pose in bikinis. Many of these types of photos are seen from behind as the woman holds (presumably) a male photographers hand – a shot that was made famous by Murad Osmann and Nataly Zakharova and has since become a cliché.
While these images are beautifully crafted and compelling in their own ways, they blur the lines between travel and fashion, often over-shadowing the destination completely, and adding even more pressure on women to be perfect. Many now think they have to be young and beautiful to take photos of themselves when they travel.
However, there seems to be a backlash against the way fashion has infiltrated travel. I call it “fake fatigue.”
Fashion is fashion and travel is travel, and some issues appear when the lines are blurred including:
– Is a person who has flown into a destination to essentially use it as a location – in the fashion photography sense of the word – qualified to give travel advice about that location to would-be travellers?
– Have they taken the time to get to know local people and culture? Are they sensitive to the people, culture, and community in the creation of their imagery? See Wandering Earl’s post about travel influencers.
– Can these types of feeds be considered travel? In the traditional world of travel writing, cliché is frowned upon, and in-depth knowledge and unique insights are valued.
– If they don’t have a travel following, do these fashion-travel posts offer any ROI? Do they convert? Are the people liking the posts actually buying tickets? See Why luxury hotels have had enough of media influencers from the Telegraph and Instagram influencers are driving luxury hotels crazy from The Atlantic. Travel blogger Kate McCulley of Adventurous Kate asks influencers to use their influence wisely here.
– Are they disempowering women by often showing them as simply decorative – rather than as bold, adventurous, active, and curious travellers? See this post from Flora the Explorer, Why I’m done with the Insta-fame game.
Real women travellers strut their stuff
Every woman has the right to be seen as she wants. That’s part of women’s empowerment. When it’s your account and your brand, and you choose to show yourself as a beautiful, bold woman in a sexy dress most people, me included, would say that’s empowerment. It’s especially empowering when you look confidently into the camera. And when you not only strut your stuff, but also know your stuff – well, a gorgeous woman who’s knowledgeable and credible is a force of nature! And deserves to be a role model.
There is nothing more important and more empowering than embracing and celebrating our humanity – including our differences and similarities. This is a big part of what travel is for me. Discovering, connecting with, and trying to understand people in a culture very different from my own. Dissolving the bonds between us and making the world a smaller place and a better place.
But we can only do this if we are true to ourselves, allow our uniqueness and individuality to shine, and show our inner as well as outer beauty – as well as showing the beauty and reality of the places we visit.
So, as an antidote to the fashion trend among social media influencers, I asked for real photos of women travelling on my personal Facebook page and on Twitter and within two hours I had close to 50 – from some of the top bloggers out there.
This is what real women travellers look like. Unique, bold, curious, active, and gorgeous. Thanks so much to everyone who contributed a photo. Let’s start a #TravelReality movement.
UPDATE: Celebrating ALL women travellers
Several commenters including Oneika Raymond were concerned about the potential (and unintended) divisiveness of this post. They pointed out that stylish women (and by extension bloggers and Instagrammers) can be responsible travellers, while the reverse is also true. Not wearing makeup, and not posing in a bikini does not make you a responsible traveller. Likewise, caring about your appearance doesn’t mean you don’t care about the people, culture, and community you’re travelling in. My apologies for this unintended message. Using the term “real” traveller was meant to invoke the reality of being on the road, and not a judgement on who is actually a real traveller or not. I understand some people are reading this post that way … but it was not my intention. I have no way of judging who is a real traveller or not, and no interest in doing so.
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