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Eight powerful ways to support and champion women on your travels

For International Women’s Day 2022, it’s time to think about the ways in which you can support women around the world. Here we suggest eight ways to make sure the money you spend and the way you travel has an impact.

Intrepid Travel has just relaunched its series of Women’s Expeditions. Aiming to aid women impacted by the pandemic, the trips support communities in Peru, India, Jordan, Morocco and Iran.

Photograph by Intrepid Travel
Published 8 Mar 2022, 06:00 GMT

From running culinary tours in Mexico City to setting up an anti-poaching unit in South Africa, women around the world are overcoming challenges to innovate and lead. With over half of the travel and tourism industry made up of women, supporting travel is a great way to champion this — but with most women working lower paid, manual jobs in this industry, when we don’t travel consciously, we’re statistically not investing in women. Sustainable and local travel can benefit women all over the world, aiding to build community, overcome hurdles (like the pandemic, which financially impacted many women in lower paid jobs), create economic opportunity and educate girls to help build a fairer future. Here, we round up some of the ways to help tip the gendered balance scales through travel.

1. Travel with other women

There are some companies out there that are specifically curating trips, tours and expeditions for women travellers. After a short hiatus, Intrepid Travel has just relaunched its series of Women’s Expeditions. Aiming to aid women impacted by the pandemic, the trips support communities in Peru, India, Jordan, Morocco and Iran. The tour leaders are all women, who offer insight into the daily lives and challenges women face in other countries, many of whom feel the economic impact the most, while having less access to government support than those with higher-paid jobs.

Wild Terrains is another major player in this camp — their small group trips are just for women, while also supporting women-owned businesses in the destinations they cover (Argentina, Iceland, Portugal, France and Mexico). Girls Trip Tours, meanwhile, runs trips for women to Africa, with activities centred around the empowerment of women.

2. Opt for women-owned businesses

With the majority of women holding roles that are lower paid in the tourism industry, when we as travellers opt for chain hotels, restaurants or shops for souvenirs, those who benefit financially are statistically less likely to be women. There are some easy tools out there to help narrow down the search for women-owned businesses, such as Women Owned. There’s also an abundance of alterative options for accommodation that support local communities and are run by women, such as The Retreat Costa Rica, Casa Palopó in Guatemala and Garden of the Gods Resort in Colorado. When buying souvenirs, look out for small, local companies to buy from, such as Kazuri Beads in Kenya, run by women who produce traditional beadwork products.

3. Take a hike

With a lot of adventure focused through the lens of cis white men, some companies and individuals have taken it upon themselves to provide space to diversify this and offer more activities and stories. Black Girls Hike is a UK-based group centred around providing group hike trips, activity days and training events for women of Black Afro/Caribbean descent — their aim is to provide a safe space while encouraging reconnecting with nature. In California, there’s Hike Clerb, an intersectional group for women to join. Trails take in LA’s biodiversity through Eaton Canyon, Sandstone Peak and Eagle Rock. Trails are selected with accessibility as the focus, with walks often including an element of activism.  

4. Choose your tour guide

When booking tours on your travels, you can request tour guides who are women or actively seek out companies that specialise in this. Booking on to a trip with Varanasi Women Tours, run by Priya Pandey in northern India, for example, would help support the first and only woman tour guide in the area. There’s ToursByLocals, which in part aims to empower local women to become tourism entrepreneurs, providing a platform to earn a fair wage. Solo travellers who are women can use the site to book tour guides in countries and regions around the world. Intrepid also offers this, teaming up with Women in Travel to create Urban Adventures, designed to celebrate multiculturalism in cities with women-led experiences and guides. 

More than 80% of the tours with Travelling Spoon are hosted by women. Here, host Manuela leads travellers through the souks of Marrakech.

Photograph by Travelling Spoon

5. Aid through your tastebuds

Break bread around the world using companies that support women through food. Salt & Wind is an immersive food experience company that’s women-owned and offers unique and meaningful culinary endeavours in California, Hawaii, Italy, Mexico, Spain and France. Eat Like a Local is another, based in Mexico City and run by native Rocio. Try Naya Traveler, for curated food tours for women in Spain, or head to Traveling Spoon, where more than 80% of the hosts are women — the company’s main aim is to create economic opportunities for local women and food producers around the world — offering cooking classes, in-home meals and market visits in a wealth of destinations.

Read more: Blazing a trail: five inspiring women in travel

6. Champion communities

Supporting local women can come from celebrating (and financially contributing to) local crafts. TreadRight Foundation is a helpful tool — it’s a non-profit linked to Red Carnation Hotels, with an aim to have a positive impact on people, communities, wildlife and marine life. Part of that initiative includes encouraging and enabling communities to thrive through community-based tourism — search the site to find ways of contributing, like by taking a lesson in the traditional art of moccasin-making at Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto to support women in Indigenous communities, or partake in an educational visit to Iraq al-Amir to fund local women to help preserve local heritage.

7. Help women travel

Black Trans Travel Fund is a grassroots collective set up to provide financial and material resources to break down barriers and help Black transgender women with safer travel options. By donating to the collective, your money can be redistributed to help Black transgender women travel more safely. Another way to help women see the world is to book a tour through Exodus Travels’ The Mountain Lioness Scholarship. The initiative set up in Tanzania sponsors local women to train as mountain guides, aiding them to become expedition leaders in an industry typically dominated by men.

Sergeant Cute Mhlongo and Sergeant Nkateko Mzimba are two of the 23 young, female rangers protecting the rhinos in the safari hotspot of Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa.

Photograph by Ilan Godfrey/Getty Images for Lumix

8. Support women protecting wildlife

Sustainability is an issue that takes in many factors, but ultimately by supporting women on the ground, we can create a better planet. When booking eco trips, look out for women-led initiatives that you can support. The Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit in South Africa’s Balule Nature Reserve is a great example of this — the all-woman unit protects all boundaries of the reserve from poachers. It aims to give women a voice and to educate people on how we can live symbiotically with wildlife. By donating to such initiatives, we can help to create a more regenerative future.

Read more: Meet the Black Mambas, South Africa's all-female, anti-poaching unit

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