Wanderfest, the first major outdoor travel festival by and for women, coming in March 2022
In March 2022, Wanderfest will celebrate all the beauty, joy and nuance of the travel experience for women.
It was 2013, and I could be found sitting in a Starbucks in Chicago, caramel latte in hand. As I sat there sipping my drink, a press briefing crossed my computer screen: Another solo female traveler was reported lost and possibly killed overseas.
I wish I could tell you this was the first and last time I saw a news clip like this, but sadly they’re everywhere. To this day, there are countless horror stories of things that happen to women when we dare to venture out into the world. Consistent tips and articles on how women can travel safely. Products that make millions of dollars on the premise that female travelers are at risk every time we pull out a passport.
It’s not that these things don’t happen or that some of these fears aren’t real. Instead, it’s the fact that it’s one of the only tales that are told about women traveling (the other being the exact opposite and what I like to call the “Eat Pray Love” narrative, which involves gorging on pasta, finding happiness abroad and being carried away). In short, when it comes to women’s travel, there aren’t many nuances between horror stories and Eat Pray Love tales.
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In reality, there is so much more that makes up the travel experience of women: navigating gender and cultural norms, dress codes, birth control, hormones, motherhood, or the simple fact that when the industry travel talk, they’re usually aimed at a white man in his twenties (or fifties) and not much else. Yet did you know that women make the majority of purchasing decisions in the travel industry?
When I started Wandering—An international collective of travelers and travel content creators on a mission to help women travel the world — this was with the goal of creating a space where women can access real and useful information and a network live support. But more than just arming women with pepper spray and sending them on their way, Wanderful does a lot to challenge the behaviors and tactics of the travel industry, amplifying the work of various thought leaders and encouraging l travel industry to do better for outgoing travelers. around the world as well as local communities affected by tourism.
I’ll be honest; it’s a lot of work. We spend a lot of time and energy advocating for the industry to improve and talking about crucial things. But do you know what’s so important? Celebrate and feed. That’s why I decided to host one of the most daring events of all: Wanderfest, an outdoor festival and a true celebration of travel and the women who do it.
Wanderfest is the first major outdoor travel festival by and for women to take place in March 2022. The event will bring together over 1,000 travel enthusiasts for a weekend of music, speakers and more at downtown New Orleans. Imagine this: Hundreds of people (women and allies) are inspired, energized and connected.
There will be speakers like Patricia Schultz, the author of the international bestselling book 1,000 places to see before you die, Travel Channel host and influencer Oneika Raymond, and celebrity chef and Chopped indigenous cookery artist Crystal Wahepah. Imagine musicians like feminist icon and former MIA drummer Madame Gandhi, a Bhangra-inspired dance class with culturally energizing Sarina Jain, and a parade through the French Quarter with the Baby Dolls of New Orleans. In addition to these speakers and musicians, attendees will also find a market for travel items by women-owned businesses supporting women. And that’s just the beginning.
You might think that Wanderfest is all about having fun (which it is, of course), but it’s also about something bigger. There is one thing I didn’t tell you about that day in Chicago in 2013. It wasn’t just the article about the missing woman abroad that stayed with me, it was this. that happened after that. Underneath the article were dozens of comments – judgment pages – criticizing the traveler for leaving her husband and children behind to travel solo. As if her choice to travel alone was the justification for what had happened to her, the comments seemed to suggest that getting lost, assaulted or killed abroad was not enough; women must also be ashamed of it.
Women in our culture are constantly being pulled in different directions. We are obligated to take care of our families and loved ones and balance that with our careers (when we can). We are asked to focus on everything else except ourselves and our own needs. When we choose to travel, we actively choose to honor ourselves and give ourselves time to do what we love. Choosing to give ourselves time to focus on something we love is the most powerful manifestation of self-care we can do.
Wanderfest isn’t all about talking and celebrating travel. It’s about celebrating what the journey does to us and how it gives us time to reflect. It’s a celebration of how travel encourages us to reach out, learn, and engage with the world; and how he teaches us about others, and in the same way, teaches us about ourselves. Taking the time to honor that and to bond deeply with others who feel the same is the spirit of Wanderfest.
Next year’s Wanderfest will be brave and courageous, and it’s our way of telling stories that prove that fear of female solo travel isn’t what defines us. We choose our story, and now, for the first time, we’ll shout it from the rooftops of New Orleans.