How We Became Inspired Women Travelers & 10 Trips You Can Take Now

March 15, 2024 • Lis Larson
For those who’d like to support women-run expedition companies, or travel with notable female guest hosts who are experts in their field, our team is here to help.

Our team of travel specialists at AdventureSmith Explorations are often contacted by women seeking to travel with their families, spouses, friends or alone. In fact, more than half of our booked travelers are women, and the same is true of our office crew. We’ve collected empowering travel stories from our female staff, and then each has recommended an AdventureSmith Explorations expedition in line with their favorite experiences.

Mother-Daughter Alaska – Mary M.

I was raised with a love for the outdoors. My mother chose the woods of Vermont over the excitement of the greater Boston area, where she grew up and where my relatives reside. Skiing, hiking, biking–Mom and I both continue to follow forested paths in our free time. It’s why I fell in love with the Lake Tahoe area, and why we were both elated to travel to Alaska together in the summer of 2023 (read more about our Lindblad Alaska experience). Exploring quiet inlets, walking deciduous forest, meeting fellow nature lovers, and soaking in lectures on geology, biology and history gave us a revitalized sense of awe for places where roads end and trails begin.

For an educational and polished Alaska experience, look no further than Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness. This long-running trip is offered aboard two premiere ships (read Venture & National Geographic Quest reviews penned by two AdventureSmith experts) with comfortable common areas, elite guides and programming for families and outdoor enthusiasts. On our departure, we enjoyed time with female guides in various disciplines: divemasters, photographers, massage therapists, yoga instructors, mariners and biologists. But beyond the great crew and guides, I recommend this trip for any duos or groups who share an appreciation for the natural world.

Pushing Boundaries – Leslie C.

Having worked and traveled in many Latin countries in the early 2000s, I learned quickly that it was male dominated. I was fortunate to have worked with some amazing women at a travel company in Quito, Ecuador, who pushed these boundaries. It was here that I met some of the most extroverted, powerful women throughout all of my travels and employment. It was with these women I felt empowered and exhilarated to test the boundaries of the some of the highest peaks in South America.

It was with these women I felt empowered and exhilarated to climb some of the highest peaks in South America, including Cotopaxi.

There would be anywhere from 5 to 10 of us, primarily women with a few male guides, charging up mountains that ranged from 5,000 to 19,000 feet. On many of these we wore crampons and learned to use ice axes in order to defeat one of the world’s highest volcanos, Cotopaxi. It was one of the hardest feats I’ve accomplished thus far and remember almost giving up at 18,000 feet, but my band of bad-ass women would hear nothing of it and pulled me along with encouragement and motivation that pushed me on to view my most memorable sunrise above the clouds at 19,347 feet.  

I can’t speak highly enough of the team aboard my Antarctic Latitudes expedition, from the operations staff to the trip leaders. In the office, we work with Sunniva Sorby, an Antarctic travel industry veteran who made history in 1993 as one of the four team members of the American Women’s Antarctic Expedition, the first women’s team to reach the South Pole on foot without the aid of sled dogs or motorized vehicles. Talk about a hard-charger! And in the field, look for guide Hayley Shephard, a silver medalist in the 2017 World Guide Awards. My personal experience on this trip was highlighted by hands-on learning through citizen science data collection for researchers. Read more in my Antarctic Latitudes Expert Review, and view images of my Cotopaxi trip in our related Facebook album.

Women as Travel Leaders – Lis L.

In 2017 I attended the Adventure Travel World Summit in Salta, Argentina, and had the incredible opportunity to attend a women’s summit comprised of female leaders in the travel industry. Workshopping and learning from each other on everything from leadership strategies to women’s specific travel trends was inspirational. The communication and community that women bring to the travel equation is boundless!

Aboard every small ship I’ve been on, I’ve met solo-traveling women forging their own adventures.

And with my decade of traveling aboard small ships with AdventureSmith Explorations worldwide, I can say definitively that aboard every small ship I’ve been on, I’ve met solo-traveling women forging their own adventures. Women seem to be way more adventurous in going-it-alone, especially I saw so in locations like Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands, where there were many females ages 22 to 97 traveling alone or in small groups with other women. When we want to do something—travel companion or not—we plan it out and make it happen! 

It was quite exciting to arrive to my Antarctic Express Fly the Drake trip and find a female-led crew on the Ocean Adventurer. Expedition Leader Alison Kirk-Lauristen was the best I’ve had aboard a small ship. She was graceful, intelligent, strong, funny and decisive, and delivered all communications with her Australian humor, grit and transparency. She spoke Mandarin to boot. My fellow female guests were equally inspiring, and there were so so many single-traveling females on this expedition… read more about them in my Antarctica Expert Review.

Sisterhood and Adventure – Grace B.

For me, Alaska was a sweet surprise. It felt like stepping into a whole new dimension of excitement. My sister and I were all over it. From zooming down the world’s largest zip rider line to tearing up the mountains on ATVs, we were living for the activities Alaska had to offer. Kayaking through those icy waters and cruising on Zodiacs to watch bald eagles soar. Trips like these bonded us like nothing else. Laughing, screaming, and sharing those heart-pounding moments, it was like our sisterly connection reached a whole new level. I cherish the moments I spend traveling with my sister, recognizing the value of our time together.

So, as we keep adding to our sister bucket list, you better believe adventure is always going to be at the top of it. Gems of West Greenland is a perfect trip for active travelers like us, who are seeking unique adventurous experiences such as helicopter-assisted activities, mountain biking, sea kayaking and paddling—all right up our alley.

2 people in orange jackets traveling in a zodiac in Alaska.

Family First Adventures – Lisa S.

I have traveled with my family several times to various places across the world. As a mom of two boys traveling with my husband, I have found that as a woman I generally need to cater to the boy activities to keep the kids entertained while we travel. So anything action packed. Since I consider myself a bit of a tomboy, they are lucky that I love action-packed adventures so I tend to mix well with the dynamics of my group. Ziplining and climbing to the top of a bridge in Australia, surfing in Costa Rica, kayaking or bushwhacking in Alaska, riding ATVs in Hawaii… all experiences I wouldn’t trade. However, I will admit that I will steal time away every trip to get the occasional spa in or force some shopping to appease myself.

For a rooted experience, I recommend traveling with Kimber Owen, owner and captain of the 12-guest Sea Wolf on her Sea Wolf Glacier Bay Adventure. Kimber creates a great family feel on her small ship full of special adventures and activities for kids, like making casts of bear and wolf tracks in the mud. An impressive woman, Kimber not only runs the ship but is also is a truly incredible naturalist, keeping guests engaged and learning throughout her unique Alaska cruises.

Enduro in the Wilds of Baja – Taylor C.

In 2009 I took off from San Diego, headed south to Baja California, with four friends. Each of us had our own enduro motorcycle, packed cleverly with camping equipment and enough gear to last us a month. We had 1,000 miles in front of us before we reached Cabo San Lucas, then another 1,000 to return back to California. We took our time, ambling between pavement and dirt roads, camping in little fishing villages, on coastal cliffs and remote mountain passes along the way.

I came back in a cloud of smoke… I knew that if I could handle that as a traveling female, I could handle anything else this world could throw at me.

On two occasions I needed to find a welder to make repairs to my bike. And I came back across the US border in a cloud of smoke, as my moto slowly began to die. But I made it. Memories were etched into forever. And I knew that if I could handle that as a traveling female, I could handle anything else this world could throw at me in future endeavors. 

I love any trip that involves learning, so recommend enhancing your Baja travels with deeper knowledge of the region. I’ve got my eye on the small ship cruise, Baja California’s Whales & Sealife, with a pre or post-cruise extension to learn from a true matriarch. On the Baja Intimate Insider trip, as Doña Ramona takes you through her working ranch to learn how to make traditional pottery, tortillas and hear her stories of life growing up on a ranchero.

Going with the Flow – Jennifer M.

In my travels to Ecuador and Panama, I had the opportunity to meet many women in the travel industry: travel agents, tour operators, guides, hotel managers and owners. I enjoyed getting to know all my new friends in their hometowns or along their travels. One thing that I see tends to be a common theme amongst everyone that I’ve met is the love for travel, culture, the environment, community and the ability to adapt and go with the flow. 

If you’re looking for the ultimate go-with-the-flow journey, there’s no better place than Antarctica, where wind and weather dictate your course more than any place on Earth. As a woman, I enjoy supporting trips like Classic Antarctica, which is operated by a female-led company. Ute Hohn-Bowen directs operations for the 90-guest Ushuaia and staffs a diverse crew including published historian Monika Schillat, who has worked as an expedition leader since 1993, and trilingual marine biologist Andrea Raya Rey.

Two female travelers in AdventureSmith branded hats stand arm over shoulder of another on a beach in front of a glacier


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Fishing in the Family – Kelly G.

Since before I can remember, my family vacations always held a fishing component. My parents expertly arranged trips that had the opportunity for a bit of adventure, a bit of relaxation, but always, always, fishing. As I watched my mother tying knots, beautifully casting, doing everything my father did (sometimes even outfishing him), I knew then that I could and would fish too. I also quickly realized that fish live in beautiful places, and almost anyone (male or female) can master the technique with a bit of practice and patience. I guess you could say “I was hooked.”

As I watched my mother tying knots, casting, doing everything my father did (sometimes even outfishing him), I knew then that I could and would fish too.

Fishing immerses you in the wonder and beauty of nature. It has brought me to Costa Rica for tuna and mahi mahi, to Baja for roosterfish, and most recently to Belize for bonefish. Each trip combined fishing with other activities like hiking, kayaking and cultural excursions like exploring ancient Mayan ruins. Fishing was the gateway to the active travel lifestyle I live now. It has given me confidence, taught me patience, deepened connections with my family and at the end of the day it is just plain FUN. Working with AdventureSmith I see the same opportunities for other women to create fun balanced vacations all over the globe, and to maybe try fishing too. What’s next for me? I think I can hear the fish of Alaska and Patagonia calling my name.

Belize Sailing Charter Adventures is the perfect choice for family, friends, or a romantic getaway in the Caribbean while also satisfying the fisherman in your life. The fleet of 6 to 10-guest catamaran charter yachts offer variety and flexibility in designing itineraries tailored to the interests of your group and non-fishing family or friends. A day’s fishing expedition can be arranged while others in your group may prefer snorkeling, kayaking, visiting a Mayan temple or even a day at the spa. This all-inclusive, live aboard Belize charter offers the experience and accommodation of a 5-star hotel with the benefit of anchoring close to the fishing sites, should you wish.

Group Trip to the Italian Dolomites – Olivia W.

I’ve always had big goals to travel abroad. But trying to plan with my friends proved difficult with our varying schedules and work time off. The apprehension of traveling abroad alone as a solo female traveler held me back for a bit. But then an amazing opportunity presented itself to join a group of 15 strangers who were to explore the Dolomites in the Northeastern Alps of Italy. While the idea terrified me, I knew this was my chance to push past my comfort zone and I was excited for the challenges. I embarked on the trip, witnessed places beyond my imagination, learned that I was capable of navigating the unknown and made lifelong friends from all over the world (most being women who started out by traveling solo as well). 

Alaska is a great place to test the waters as a solo traveler if you want to stay closer to home but don’t want to compromise on adventure. Cruises here are sure to satisfy your craving for the great outdoors, reveal an abundance of wildlife and incredible activities, and give you the opportunity to make connections with like-minded adventure seekers. See our article for Tips on Booking a Solo Alaska Cruise Aboard a Small Ship, plus other insights on single supplement deals and the numerous vessels that have dedicated single cabins.

Galapagos with Game-Changers – Meghan R.

While in the Galapagos Islands, I traveled with many women who were high ranking in their fields: a CEO, the founder of a non-profit, a medical school student, a fashion designer, an 11-year-old girl who was more well spoken and well traveled than any kid I’ve ever met, and even our Galapagos guide was a fiery woman who stood strongly behind her words. It was an impressive collection of guests, and because my ship carried under 20 guests, I had many opportunities to talk one-on-one with these impressive, dedicated and game-changing women.

For women who like history check out Grace Galapagos Cruises. The historic 18-guest Grace is the former honeymoon yacht of game-changing Grace Kelly, whose legacy extends from her acting career to her status as the Princess of Monaco and philanthropic contributions to integrity in the arts in founding the NGO AMADE Mondiale and the Princess Grace Foundation.

A woman in an AdventureSmith Explorations tan hat smiles standing in front of the waterfalls of Krka National Park in Croatia


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