Today is International Women’s Day. A day which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women around the world. I’m lucky enough to know many wonderful women, from family members, to work colleagues, fellow journalists and, of course, friends. I’m constantly inspired to work harder and do more by the amazing women who surround me.
But, as this is a travel blog, I thought I’d narrow it down and share with you some of the women who have inspired my love of adventure:
The woman who started it all
When we were younger we used to go with our parents to visit some old ladies who lived in care homes. These visits were often comical and would result in scenarios which wouldn’t be out of place in a sitcom (ie. my sister, dad and I being forced to singing Christmas carols to a room full of residents who were just trying to watch Eastenders). But we have so many lovely memories of our visits too. One which always stays in my mind, and which was responsible for my early feelings of wanderlust, was a conversation I had with a lady I’d never met before. She told me that after her retirement she’d realised that she had never seen the world, so she sold all of her belongings and decided to travel. The stories she told me sounded so exciting, including sleeping on a bench in the park when she ran out of money! Whether they were 100% true or had benefited from some artistic licence, I’ll never know, but they sounded so exotic and to a young girl growing up in a small town they really opened my eyes to the outside world. I remember hoping that I could look back on my life in a similar way when I was old and grey. I never saw that lady again, but she sowed a seed of adventure in my mind which went on to grow and grow over the years and I love the reminder that small conversations really can have such a huge impact on people’s lives.
The friends who travelled with me
My first big backpacking trip was after university with three friends. The day after graduation we flew to Brazil for a two month backpacking adventure. Those initial feelings of excitement, anticipation and nerves as we boarded the plane is a concoction which has been repeated many times over the years, not to mention the giddiness that comes with the realisation that ‘yes, I actually can do this’. Those two months were filled with gorgeous beaches, sweltering jungles and chaotic cities. We laughed, we cried, we danced, we climbed mountains and swam in the sea and basically had the time of our lives. Although most of my trips have been solo since then I’ve been lucky enough to have friends come and meet me along the way. They always seem to arrive at just the right time, when my energy is low and I’m tiring of the constant round of introductions and new friendships which comes with travelling alone. The joy of being back with people who know me buoys me up every time and revitalises me for the next part of my adventures.
The travel bloggers who became friends
When I first started blogging it was just as a means to stay connected with my family and friends during my grown up gap year. I had no idea that five years later it would have introduced me to a whole network of other bloggers, many of whom I now get to call friends. Travel bloggers are a great bunch, they are always super supportive, cheering on your next adventure and totally understanding the never-ending itchy feet which not everyone always gets. You can go out for dinner with a travel pal and spend the whole meal talking about nothing but holidays and come away feeling like its been time well-spent. Whether it’s chatting about new destinations, offering recommendations and tips or discussing books with the #travelbookclub members, I’m so glad to be part of such a fantastic network.
The family who supported me
Although my sister and I are very close, we’re quite different to each other. She’s much more of a home bird and likes to explore the UK with her boyfriend and their dog, while I like going to far-flung places where I’m totally out of my comfort zone. For the first time on my round-the-world trip my sister joined me on my travels. Again, she turned up at just the right moment and the few weeks we spent together we’re so much fun. From getting soaked at the Songkran festival in Thailand to sunburning our bums so badly snorkelling we couldn’t sit down for a week; we pretty much spent the whole time laughing. On the day that I took her to the airport to go home she told me that although she’d had a good time she didn’t think she could ever travel long-term like me. “It’s just too stressful not knowing where you’re going to sleep each night,” she said. It made me smile as she was totally right, this is not the travel style for everyone. However it meant so much that even though it’s not really her cup of tea, she embraced the lifestyle for a few weeks so that we could experience something together – and we both learnt a very valuable lesson about sun cream!
When I was growing up one of my mum’s favourite phrases was “you can do it”. Whenever I had feelings of self-doubt about anything from exams, to learning how to drive, to getting my first job, that was my mum’s mantra. When I first decided to go travelling my mum was really supportive of my plans and since then she’s always encouraged me to go to new places and has never told me not to do it – even when I’ve been going solo to Colombia or telling her I’m quitting my job at the age of 29 to travel for nine months. Even if she was secretly worried, she always supported me and that’s actually helped me to take the leap. Because it turns out when you’re surrounded by people who believe you can do it, you actually can.
So here’s to all of the wonderful women in our lives. In this crazy world we live in let’s all continue to support one another, lift each other up and shout out about how blooming great we are!
Who are the women who inspire you to travel? I’d love to hear about them!