I was recently asked what the benefits of travel are for a woman?
My answer. Beyond the joys of destination discovery and adventure, travel helps you to get to know yourself better, what you do and don’t like, it builds your confidence and creates memories that are truly preciously yours. I would encourage every woman to create for herself a fund that is purely dedicated to her travels. Be they near or far, modest or great, as travel is one of the greatest gifts a woman can give herself.
“Travel not only to find yourself, but to remember who you’ve been all along” — Anonymous
As for the types of travel every woman should take, I recommend at least one solo trip – more is better. Book a safari to connect with the African bushveld, embark on a road trip somewhere exotic with a girlfriend, enjoy a wellness/yoga retreat or off the grid walking trek to reboot the soul, and make time for a trip with just their mother. All of these experiences will be forever treasured.
Travelling itself makes you more present, more observant and able to take in all the details to create stronger memories. I believe it makes you a better person and teaches adversity. It is also a huge confidence and character builder for a woman; figuring out how to navigate a foreign city, managing your own travel arrangements and budget, and making the reservations, gives a great sense of accomplishment. Time reconnecting with self, and nature, is invaluable, as is the lesson in humility it brings.
Travel takes you far enough away for you to long to return to home, and when you do it’s almost always with a settled and satisfied heart, a new found appreciation and more humble approach to day to day life.
Does travel get better, as you get older?
The older I get and the more I travel, the less like a tourist I feel. Seeking out destinations and experiences where I can live like a local, and ideally among locals. Described by my most recent Airbnb host as an ‘experienced and autonomous traveller‘, I realised that I truly am at ease everywhere. There is less fear of the unknown, no reason to sweat the small stuff, not much worry about packing – I take what I would wear at home and have very little concern about language or transport systems. With the right attitude, they shall simply be part of the adventure.
These days I simply book air tickets and an apartment, do minimal research and figure the rest out after arrival, making friends as I do. I understand that things can go wrong, so always arrive at an airport much earlier than needed. Have a very clear system in place with regard to packing and separating documentation and cards (just in case), and am very organised, friendly and patient while going through the motions at airports and with customs.
Once arrived I seek out all the art galleries and museums, book walking tours and resident guides to show me the way, and am otherwise very happy to explore on my own. In my younger years, I needed company or a group to give me that confidence.
I love walking the streets and eating in places that are filled with locals, chatting freely to all I come into contact with. Perhaps it’s the increased faith in myself, a clearer idea of who I am and what I’m interested in, the life lessons already taken and the ability to spend money more wisely, that has stripped away many preconceived ideas – and misconceptions about destinations I am visiting, opening a new world and conscious way of travelling to me that I far prefer.
As I go I always write and capture to photograph the memories in the hope of encouraging others to follow. This is what I have been doing today, as this is part of my plan for my untamed and precious life. After all, it was Picasso who said: ‘The work that one does is a way of keeping a diary.’ This is mine.
The older I get and the more I travel, the less like a tourist I feel.