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. 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. 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.
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.
Recommended Trip: Antarctic Latitudes
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.
This past year 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 six years 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!
Recommended Trip: Antarctic Express Fly the Drake
It was quite exciting to arrive to my Antarctic Express Fly the Drake trip this past December 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.
Galapagos with Game-Changers – Meghan R.
While aboard the Alya 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 the Alya carries only 16 passengers, I had many opportunities to talk one-on-one with these impressive, dedicated and game-changing women.
Recommended Trip: Alya & Grace Galapagos Cruises
Of course, I recommend the Alya as I had such an incredible experience (read more in my Alya Galapagos Cruise Review), but I’d also steer women who like history toward 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.
Feeling the Most Welcome – Jenna G.
I have felt the most welcome while traveling away from home when interacting with other women. What comes to mind is when traveling through India, a woman in South India invited me to her small house in rural village for lunch and I have never felt more taken care of while traveling. She impressively made an 11-dish incredible meal (one of the best meals of my life) and we enjoyed it on banana leaves. After lunch we petted her goat and kittens and took a nap in her house on grass mats she rolled out for us—we were so full we couldn’t do much else! At first I was uncomfortable with such generosity, but by the end of my travels I realized that many people (especially women) in India got as much joy from hosting that I got from being a guest. This was also an important experience for me as I had just come off a six-month stay in Delhi and was quite worn out from having to fend off constant uncomfortable interactions with men. Feeling so relaxed and taken care of started healing me from the intensity of my prior experiences.
I have felt the most welcome while traveling away from home when interacting with other women.
A similar experience happened in New Zealand when another woman took me in and hosted me for two months while I was teaching and traveling. I felt so at home and connected to her and her family, which was exactly what I needed after teaching in some tough situations and traveling in a new country alone. I have yet to feel such deep, memorable connections or feel as welcome and taken care of by men while traveling. This theme continued when my husband and I adventured to Indonesia for our honeymoon and sailing aboard a sailboat through Raja Ampat; we were again taken care of by the incredible female expedition leaders aboard!
Recommended Trip: Sacred Valley & Lares Adventure to Machu Picchu
The Sacred Valley & Lares Adventure to Machu Picchu is an incredible journey for close connection to local culture. While you stay in a lodge run and co-owned by the local residents in Huacahuasi, they invite you into their personal homes to see how they live as well. You can also choose to visit women weavers of remote Choquecancha. Weaving is commonly an activity that groups of people (often women) share together, creating bonds and growing connections. It’s fun to see the local dyes and colors each community of women use to create their weavings.
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.
Recommended Trip: Sea Wolf Glacier Bay Adventure
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.
Recommended Trip: Baja’s Bounty & Baja Intimate Insider
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’s Bounty, 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.
Recommended Trip: Classic Antarctica
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.
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.
Recommended Trip: Belize Sailing Charter Adventure
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.
Learn more about these women on the AdventureSmith crew page, and see more photos from these experiences in our related Facebook album. Our team of experts is always happy to talk travel to suit your interests and group—whether you’re a solo female traveler or a big family.
This post on inspired women travelers is among AdventureSmith Explorations’ extensive travel resources. It was originally published in July 2018, and is updated periodically by our experts, the most recent update occurred January 2021. Find more inspiration on the AdventureSmith Travel Blog or contact one of our Adventure Specialists for more insights on our trips: 1-877-620-2875.