Yesterday I went to celebrate International Women’s Day at a new conference that was held in downtown Manhattan called Women’s Travel Fest. It was a day of discussion meant to inspire and prompt women to travel. I went because as an avid traveler and writer, I was excited to hear women talk about my favorite subject and watch others get as empowered about the topic as I already am.
I recently hosted a twitter party on this very subject and know that statistics prove that women are anything but afraid to travel in 2014. These are a few of the stats that I found:
– Women– young, old, single, married, widowed and gutsy are fueling an explosive growth in travel industry.
– By 2015, women are expected to control 60 percent of the country’s wealth and they are traveling.
– 80% of all travel decisions are made by women.
– In a recent poll of travel agents, an estimated 59 per cent saw an increase in female travel clients traveling by themselves now compared to 10 years ago.
As I listened to other fabulous women discuss their love for travel, many of whom who have turned their passion into a way of life, it made me feel alive. I’m excited about the state of travel and the fact that so many are ready to hop up and travel abroad on their own. On one trip to the bathroom during the conference, I heard one young woman talking about her upcoming trip to Asia and how she has a one-way ticket with indefinite plans of coming home. The room was buzzing with stories about people’s plans and they were all tapping into the incredible stories about funding them through entrepreneurial channels. There are women creating travel videos for a living and many are monetizing their blogs or writing quite successfully. They are creating travel guides, foreign language programs and other creative avenues to fund their adventures.
When I started traveling right out of college, safety issues were a much higher concern. Today women carry have cell phones and other gadgets to get more information about where they’re going and it’s so much easier to keep in touch with people than ever before. There was only one travel guide on the market about women & travel at the time, and now that number has grown exponentially. I traveled all over Europe when I was 23 and to parts of the Middle East as a teenager and later as a young woman. I know there are travel precautions, and I admit to finding myself in awkward situations whilst traveling, but nothing has ever happened to deter me. On the contrary, the experiences have propelled me forward. However, the threat of sexual violence and abuse is still prevalent in certain countries and I realize that there are particular countries that are still difficult to travel to.
I moved into travel publishing/marketing in 2000 as the lead marketer for Frommer’s Travel Guides. Social media hadn’t come into being yet, and as a marketer, I pulled every creative stunt humanly possible. Our web site was a force in our efforts but oh, what I could have achieved with social at my helm, you have no idea. Of course, the line has since been sold to Google and back to the Frommers themselves. Travel publishing as we once knew it has come and gone but that is a completely separate post for another time. However, I do attribute a lot of my interest and passion in how travel is marketed to that time period.
I started traveling with my kids from day one out of the womb with each of them. From day trips to long weekends to longer trips cross-country or abroad, I believe that travel can cause big changes in a child’s life. Now that our kids are both in elementary school, we have to work around the academic calendar…..or not. Since we believe that our kids learn more on the road, we generally have no hesitation taking them out for a meaningful vacation. By opening up the world to them beyond U.S. borders, or within, they become more aware that there is a whole other world out there to explore.
Having kids is what prompted me to start writing. When I first started traveling with them, I couldn’t really find any type of travel information online. So I started to write for myself here on this site and then ultimately extended my writing to other sites. Now I write for Family Vacation Critic, Ciao Bambino, Go Girlfriend and This Girl Travels. I’ve thought about starting my own travel blog but I kind of like spreading myself out and just started a site to house my freelance writing over at TheHollyChronicles.com. I have loved documenting our travels which have taken this family to Israel, Iceland, Ireland, England, Italy, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Mexico and Jamaica, to name a few of the places. You really don’t want to see their passports (and they’re dual U.S./UK citizens, too!).
Last year I decided that after a decade of parenting, it was time to travel on my own and I decided to venture to Vietnam and Hong Kong. It was about reconnecting with myself on a very visceral level that needed to be experienced without children in tow. While I was traveling throughout Asia, my backpack attached to my back, I was Holly Rosen again. I was that adventurous traveler that existed before I had kids. The girl that tried and tasted everything, and jumped to travel every chance I could.
While I was away, the comments that came in on Facebook were hilarious.
“Holly your pics are gorgeous!!! What r u doing in Asia?”
“Beautiful photos. Why North Vietnam? How did you get your husband to agree? Mine would want to come along!”
“I’ve never met Brian, but he’s obviously an awesome husband!”
“You’ll have to tell me how you managed to get away!”
As I read each comment, I laughed. And I sighed. My travel companion and I agreed that every mom should get away and reconnect with their inner beings every once in a while. I know that some people thought that I was going through a mid-life crisis or that I had some great desire to get away from my family, but that could not be as far from the truth as possible. I just wanted an adventure of my own. I had been dying to go to Asia for the last nine years since I had kids and my husband and I agreed that they were not quite ready for the kind of traveling that I wanted to do. I wanted to take nighttime trains. I wanted to sit and eat street food all day. I wanted to jump on boats and rush off for seafood on remote islands at night. I wanted to hike, kayak and ride motorbikes.
I’m ready for that time of my life where I can explore and see the world on my terms again. Now that I’ve had a taste, I’ll get it again. As a writer and connoisseur of travel, I’m ready, along with all the other women in the room yesterday at the Women’s Travel Fest. The difference is that many of them are young, without children, just starting out.
I’m not in their shoes, but I’ve figured out how to record my memories and inspire people to want to travel, in my own way, and that’s good enough for me.
Hopefully, my kids will follow in the same footsteps and with every stamp that’s placed in their passports (Croatia, England, St. Marten and the Bahamas this year!), they’ll develop more of a desire to see the world…on their own terms.