Why women travel is no mystery: like anyone, we seek to escape, to see the world, to experience and discover, but more than men, we seek to give back. After all, 70% of volunteer travel experiences are women.
There are so many reasons to wander away from home.
Plain human wanderlust is often at the root of travel – that age-old desire to move on to new pastures, see new things, have new experiences. I come from a long line of nomads and don’t dwell on the why – I just need to.
Perhaps you just need to get away; there’s too much stress, too many pressures at home or at work, a sometimes unexplained need to turn your back on life for a time. You might just be in the mood to quit your job and travel. Careful – don’t be too impulsive!
You may be shopping for a new life. Perhaps you’re coming out of a difficult relationship or health scare and want to look at things in a new way, on your own.
Maybe the opposite is true. You may be seeking a soulmate and maybe that relationship is lurking out there, abroad.
You might have missed out on long-term travel when you were younger because you were ‘serious’ and went straight from school to work. Well, now it’s your turn and you and want to make up for it.
Or you’re young right now and you don’t want any regrets or ‘I should haves’ later. You’re not the type of woman to let life pass you by.
You may want to brush up your skills by studying a language abroad, like Spanish in Central America, or learn to become a chef in a European cooking school.
Many women want to trace family roots and uncover their ancestry – from Europe, Africa or Asia for example.
Maybe it’s a health thing and you want to get fit. Travel can do that. You walk a lot, lift a heavy pack or lug a suitcase, swim and snorkel and hike. And you do most of these every day. I lost 20kg in three years and never once thought ‘I shouldn’t eat this.’
For some women travel means adventure – mountains to climb, gorges to traverse, bays to kayak along, caiman-filled rivers to cross… You may want to stretch yourself, to see if you can do ‘it’, whatever it is.
You may feel a need to help, to give back a bit of your own good fortune by volunteering, for a week, a month or a year. Altruism and public service have always been great reasons to push beyond your comfort zone.
It may be all about culture, about discovery of a world other than your own, a curiosity about faraway lands. Perhaps you’ve studied history or archaeology, or you’ve read foreign authors and dreamed of following in their footsteps – the Russia of Leo Tolstoy, the France of Balzac, the Istanbul of Orhan Pamuk… or how travel art can help give you a sense of place.
There are job opportunities abroad, in case you’re thinking of turning that quick trip into something much longer. And becoming, why not, an expat.
You might have a deep desire to document your trip – travel writing by gutsy, adventurous women might be just the inspiration you need!
Perhaps you need to make connections, to meet people of all sorts, from all over. This helps us feel like members of the same human race.
Or you might need to reconnect with yourself, and get back in touch with a part of the person you were before career and family became your life.
A trip is often a quest. On my own multi-year trip through nearly 30 countries, what started as an external adventure slowly became an inner quest. I left to get away, propelled by wanderlust, and ended up asking questions rather than finding answers. Inner exploration may be part of your search.
Maybe it’s a question of taste, of taste in every way – tasting unusual foods, of course, but also a taste for new and different colours, shapes, scents… You may be considering food tourism, or culinary travel.
Your travel goal may be spiritual. You may be following one of the world’s great pilgrimage routes, like the Camino, visiting a sacred site, or headed on a spiritual retreat in the Himalayas.
You may be seeking some kind of empowerment, a change in who you are and how you feel and travel may just grant you that.
Or perhaps you’re trying to jumpstart your creativity – for example by learning about street art when you visit a new city.
So why do women travel?
In the end, you don’t need a reason. All you need is desire.
Travel will certainly show you the world – but you may also experience empowerment through travel. It can make you a better person.