Travel + Feminism
The best thing about travel is the people you meet. Finding another traveller sparks an instantaneous connection that can never really be matched. Small talk is easy because ingrained in meeting another traveller is an immediate set of questions that can spark off hours of travel-story-exchanges and the comparison of home-country differences that far surpass the tired old job/school/location nonsense with which we usually put up.
And experiencing bucket list-type adventures or the type of transformational growth that goes hand-in-hand with travel with a complete stranger is a most liberating thing. They know you in one of the most important moments in your life, like no one ever could. They see the genesis of a new person - the new you. And like a mother meeting a baby for the first time, that connection can never be lost.
I'm grateful that most of my closest friends are people who are travellers; many of whom I have met through travelling themselves. In case you can't tell, I'm a bit obsessed with travel.
So imagine my excitement when an invitation arrived to spend an evening talking about travel and feminism with a bunch of like-minded women.
Such was my night discovering Travel With Jane. They're an Australian startup that offer travel insurance with a 16.2% discount for women to match the gender pay gap in our country. A simple, thought-provoking premise to pair travel and feminism that could make such a world of difference. And moreover, one that just made so much sense.
Why? Because the idea of a solo female traveller is in itself so defiant. We saw it with #viajosola. We saw it with Taken. We saw it every time I was called brave or warned about the crazy perils I was putting myself in by merely going on holiday.
It seems so unkempt and uncharacteristic that we would not want to be flanked with male bodyguards or definitively spend time with ourselves that there must be something so different and dangerous about what I am doing.
For me, the epitome of freedom is felt most distinctively when I travel. And to have that taken away because I am a woman - even in the fear-mongering that surrounds the idea - is the very epitome of oppression.
I should not be made to feel unsafe by others telling me that I am wrong in my convictions and passions.
I should not be made to feel unsafe by being a woman in societies that feel threatened by how I dress or how I act (I exclude those that have particular spiritual or religious reasons behind it).
I should not have to restrain myself and check myself for danger any more than any man would in the same situation.
I am alone as much in my day to day life as when I travel and yet the terror of being alone seems heightened because travel is something a woman is not seen to be done by themselves. It's why books like Wild or Eat, Pray, Love have long since inspired women to grasp at that relentless adventurism that so many men before that have conquered.
Travel and feminism are not just two separate compartments in my passions nor the world. They are intrinsically linked in how they manifest in my lives and the lives of people around me.
I travel alone for myself and because it liberates me. And I make no apologies or concessions because of that.
Shout outs to the incredible staff at Travel with Jane for a lovely evening and re-inspiring me as a woman and as a traveller. Moreover, thanks to the social enterprise restaurant, Folonomo that donate 100% of their profits to charity and served us a most delicious meal. Also, to the incredible businesses that donated to our goodie bags - Thank You, Tsuno, Custom Printed Bags and Boxes, KMB & Co and Words with Heart. And to Krystal for passing on an invitation that spoke to my heart from the very subject line.