Recently, I found a women-only FB group called “Women who Travel”, created by Conde Nast Traveler.
a place where all self-identifying female travel lovers can join in conversation about what it means to travel as a woman today
In less than a week, the group has blown my mind in many ways, adding up the thoughts already there. Especially during the past year, I’ve been talking to (and stalking) all these modern (woman) travellers, adventurers and extreme athletes around the world (hi there!). Moreover, there are similar global groups like “our” group for (amateur) women in outdoor sports (Shades Of Winter collective) and the buzz around the books and movies Wild, Frozen and Wonder Woman. And by now it all seems to have reached the masses, as the FB groups suggest.
Women who travel is a trend; a significant one accelerating change in many fields. And it isn’t travel only, it’s also the adventure and outdoors women who have been seeking and many times got the spotlight lately. Not just for selfish, what’s on the surface kind of reasons, but to create a positive change in the industries and environment we live and do things in.
Even my site aims to be a way to inspire others, especially women, to travel and reach for their dreams, and to show the potential we have. Though I hope men also listen, as this should help them to understand better the women of their lives and the world we all live in. The travelling kind of adventurous women, which I argue are one of the best types and the world which is all the time becoming better for everyone (at least the western world – and well, let’s not go the US now).
WOMEN WHO TRAVEL
The number of women who now travel and seek for adventures is just something remarkable. And they are not just the ones who have EU passport and white skin and old money. There are also many (may I say it’s a majority by now) inspiring women, who don’t mind about the barriers and fight and work their way over the borders and VISA applications to travel wherever and whenever they feel like to and who do whatever they like to. The interest in travel and adventure amongst women is rapidly growing, and I can’t help thinking how proud my own late grandmother would be to see how we use our freedom and grab on the possibilities she, and many others of her generation never had.
The support and push one gets from other women have been an amazing phenomenon to notice especially for a girl like me. I am used to, and enjoy, travelling and adventuring with guys as well. And a few years back I still wondered if there’s any need for making a difference between the genders; thinking isn’t the field already equal enough? But I’ve realised that women are the best example for women, and especially for little girls, and there’s a lot to take home from settings where only women are in place. Men can teach and they can push us forward as well, but they never know what it’s like for a woman, be it in a mountain or a foreign country.
I like men (I really like) and think that any “playground” should be an open playground for everyone, despite gender, colour, religion or whatever may “divide” us. Nevertheless, there is (still) place and a need for women-only forums and camps and conversations and whatever, to make travel and adventure more inclusive and to accelerate the positive change. But this doesn’t mean that men shouldn’t learn something from this too. The change happening and conversations going on are beneficial for everyone.
WOMEN WHO TRAVEL IS A POWERFUL TREND
Women who travel is a significant trend with many possibilities to take something out of it, for various purposes. Something companies in tours & activities, hospitality, gear, clothing and even DMO’s should have already seen coming; something for which one could think there would be a lot of products and services available, already now. But as I browse the available options for myself as an active solo traveller; the training camps for mountain biking, skiing, surfing, trail running; single rooms, gear rental (hint: I want professional and technically advanced, not just pink) and single activities and rooms, I still find only a few, if any. Not to mention my mum, who likes to travel but does not have the skills or means to be as proactive and self-reliant in her plans and purchases as me.
There are exceptions though. I’ve taken part in few women-only activities, courses and camps in Switzerland and enjoyed every moment with these professional woman entrepreneurs, guides, instructors and fellow travellers. Recently I also secured my place in all girls surf camp in Morocco for the end of August (this will be an interesting adventure, I’ve never surfed and I’m still more used to water in solid form – lot’s of funny lessons ahead!). At some point, I’m even thinking of putting up my own camp in Lapland, following the great example.
HOW TO UTILISE THE TREND EVEN BETTER (AND FOR GOOD)
Even though there is something happening already, I do wish there would be more offered to women who travel and more taken out of the trend, for good. I’m not the only one with free lots in my calendar, tired of having to make the first move myself. And there are the ones like my mum, who’s not so into the extreme, nevertheless active holiday kind of type, and who’d buy the whole active package at once if it would be just available.
I’m also sure there are many brands who could utilise this trend for their own purposes and for everyone’s benefit. It’s not only makeup, bags and shoes and city breaks modern traveller girls want. And some of us are more than bored of standing still in front of a beautiful landscape long hair flowing in the wind for 10k Instagram likes (too many times for their photographer husband’s business, btw). While the men climb mountains and pose full speed in downhill bike trail in their popular feeds.
I would like to see how the little girls of today and future would not be taught to be that way; to want the cute and pink and just stand there pretty. Rather, I would like them to see how fun the adventure is, and how capable and brave modern women are.
We want quality, we want sustainability, we want responsibility, we want to challenge ourselves and we do wanna make the change happen. While having fun and doing mainly whatever makes us happy. And we can do it.
WOMEN WHO TRAVEL WANT THINGS WHICH WORK
Women who travel also want and need stuff, gear, clothing, gadgets etc for their travels and life in general. And that’s a big field where there’s still work to do. To illustrate this, let’s start from a watch, as it’s interesting with i.e. this Daniel Wellington phenomenon in mind. But since this is a travel/adventure, not a fashion blog, I look for the adventure watch. A watch which also does the job outdoors, while looking good, like Suunto Spartan HR multisport watch (I’m on a look for similar one, btw, so feel free to suggest something – especially suitable for (trail)running, mountain biking, surfing, and mountaineering).
This Suunto watch is nice, it has many features suited for a multisport athlete. Not just a professional one, but also amateurs and lifestyle athletes like me. And apparently, the software and usability are finally getting better after some major hiccups in the first models. So it seems to be a watch to consider. But.
Recently, Suunto ads and promotions have labelled and announced the newest colour versions of the watch (pink/white/cold version) for active, urban female multisport athlete. So now we have a watch which is said to be developed for these women, grasping on the trend we have been talking in here. But, what were the previous models and other stylish colours of this watch been; for the men only? And so I need to research if something else also changed for the “female” version; the size, weight, usability? Would make sense. But no; only the colour has been changed.
It’s 2017. Really, it shouldn’t be only about the looks anymore for us women, even though it is nice to have a sports watch which looks like a nice watch, and not just a sports watch (krhm Polar, I might look at you now). If and when you promote a sports watch for urban active women, I do expect it’s not only colour preferences which differentiate us from men in your eyes.
WOMEN WHO TRAVEL MIGHT NEED SOME ADJUSTMENTS, AND NOT JUST THE COLOUR
The problem here is that many things and services are still promoted and even developed for women mainly with the pink/gold and white/gold colours and “softness” first etc. As a watered down, cute version of the men version. But let me tell you: when it comes to my gadgets, I may look for the nice colour, but it’s not the most important thing. More than anything else, I would like to hear and see how you have thought the gadget fits the activity and active life I lead; how it really supports and helps me with my everyday adventures. And I can’t be the only woman thinking so.
Here comes an advice. If and when the product development is targeted to interests more and more women (see, the women who travel is a big trend), I would concentrate on the usability and functionality from a woman point of view. How the size fits a woman’s wrist (which in most cases is smaller than men’s); how’s the weight and how’s the functionality from a woman perspective. I don’t have anything against pink and in some cases, it suits me and my needs. And I do enjoy good trendy design. But, it’s not the main reason I buy or want things.
I want things which work and make me perform better, who save my life, keep me dry and warm and don’t break and ruin basic daily activities and adventures. And I’m pretty sure that’s what most of the women who travel and do things want too. I really wish brands would understand this and modify their communications to this direction. Because well, the current communication style of many makes me think they simply underestimate women and their skills and capabilities. Which is definitely not fine.
DO YOU WANT OUR TIME AND MONEY?
Women are travelling in growing numbers and making a significant change while doing so, in many fields. It’s a trend and women have more and more to say on what they want and need. And I would argue that companies and wider world should really listen to them and see the trend, and to help make the positive change happen and be proactive. Luckily enough, there’s already some who do that and our (woman)friends are filling the gaps by doing favours and creating things themselves when they can’t find what they are looking for. But more can and should be done. And we have the time and money; let’s see where we spent it.
Ps. The pics in here are from last weekend (pics of me by David Freitag) and the last one from my original home in Lapland. It’s in these two worlds I live now, from time to time startled by the thought that I can simultaneously be home, going home and missing home. I am a woman who travels, and I sure will tell you soon how it’s not always easy, but why one really should chase their dreams like I’ve done. Oh and talking about the travel gear, that Patagonia Ascensionist 35L backpack is just ace. Unisex model. I wish this would be sponsored mention.