Community is by definition a unitary group of individuals. There is something magical about traveling that connects people and creates a common understanding of culture, time and place. Travel experiences are unique, good and bad for everyone, and it is very valuable to share them with one another. Women who travel share an even deeper bond as their experiences represent common gender and cultural norms. At a time when female travel and sustainable tourism are shifting from trends to the norm, communities are even more important in informing, inspiring and empowering women to travel well. Here are five founders who successfully built communities to do just that.
Beth Santos, founder of Wanderful and the Women in Travel Summit
When you create travel content, you will find your people in the Wanderful community. Founder Beth Santos started a personal blog in 2009 when she couldn’t find essential resources for women traveling alone. She added global contributors and eventually began hosting in-person events. It was then that she realized the true power of the community that she had built.
Santos’ original goal was to share stories about the real issues that affect women when traveling, such as gender norms in different countries and practical information as opposed to fashion advice. After a few years she had built a decent following and realized she could teach other female travel bloggers how to start a business.
At that point, she started the Women in Travel Summit to share her findings with other women. “It’s a conference for creators to open a conversation about how we can make travel more meaningful and inclusive,” she said. “We’re sharing how we can use our platforms to expand some of those values, grow our business, and help more women start their own businesses.”
It was renamed Wanderful in 2015 and since then its blog has grown into a global lifestyle brand whose mission is to make travel easier for women by connecting them to their greatest asset: each other.
From a membership base to chapters in over 50 cities, Santos has found a way to build an online community of travelers and then connect those women personally through global gatherings, a women-to-women network where women can rest on their own, insured that they book a safe and verified stay) and travel with women to places like Antarctica.
The founders of We Are Travel Girls, Becky Van Dijk and Vanessa Rivers
Rebecca Van Dijk
We are travel girls
When Becky van Dijk and Vanessa Rivers met in London in 2015, they were united through a mutual love of travel. At the time, they couldn’t find any travel blogs that regularly published articles by women from all over the world. A year later, they launched a website promoting female travel bloggers that we called We Are Travel Girls.
Four years later, they have a sizable social media following (over 400,000 Instagram followers and two million monthly views on their Pinterest page) and expanded their brand to provide free travel resources, host global meetups, and offer tailored trips. They also get involved in fundraising campaigns for charities working on much needed projects around the world.
With an audience composed mostly of women between the ages of 25 and 35, van Dijk and Rivers in the US, UK and Australia have created a global community of female travelers who can contribute articles to their blog and connect in exotic locations Travel Girl Getaways and learn from each other.
Eyitemi Popo, founder of Girls Trip Tours
Girls Trip Tours
For Eyitemi Popo, Girls Trip Tours was a work of love. The native Nigerian grew up up and down between the United States and Nigeria. After graduating from college, she founded Ayiba, an online magazine devoted to the chronicle of the African renaissance. Through her platform, she created a community of Diaspora Africans who wanted to connect with the continent and understand it better. It was by creating content that could bridge the gap between these two communities that the idea for Girls Trip Tours came about.
As a world traveler, Popo already saw the challenges of female solo travel. “I knew if I wanted to bring people to the continent, I had the opportunity to focus on women and create a more interesting experience.” The aim was to bring the magazine to life and give women the opportunity to visit the continent. By facilitating women’s travel in Africa, Popo curates a women-powered ecosystem that explorers can take in or lead.
Focused on empowering women, Girls Trip Tours host trips to various destinations in Africa where travelers can explore the sights and have authentic experiences with high profile business women and local industry leaders. Her uniquely curated trips allow women from around the world to safely explore an African city with confidence and determination while also providing support to local women.
Lale Arikoglu, a founding editor and co-host of the Women Who Travel podcast
Women who travel
Inspired by the 2017 Women’s March, Lale Arikoglu and some of her co-editors at Condé Nast Traveler decided to build on the momentum and publish a collection of articles about women doing interesting things in travel. The positive response prompted her to start a Facebook group for self-identifying women who travel, and the project got underway.
Within two years, Women Who Travel was established as the evergreen industry for the platform, which included a podcast, meet-ups and most recently curated trips for women.
As one of the founding editors of Women Who Travel, Arikoglu oversees the vertical and co-moderates the podcast. While admitting that travel is a luxury for many, Arikoglu said the 150,000-member Facebook group and meet-ups are fully accessible (and free) for every woman. “The internet makes the world feel so much smaller and more accessible,” said Arikoglu. “We see a real hunger for women to talk about their travels and share stories, and we see it all come together in our online community and in our meetings.”
By building inclusive communities, each of these founders has instilled an innate desire in women to share, learn, inspire, and encourage one another. And since knowledge is power, the real benefit is how much travel women empower.