To Travel or not to Travel ?

This is a topic that we hear women talk about often.

When we took on WalkingWomen we were only just beginning to think about travel again, having been grounded during the Covid years.

Women would ask if it was safe. They wanted to discuss more about travel arrangements, with many telling us they had lost confidence in travel.

We also had the adventurers keen to get moving again, embrace the new, the unknown, and get into the great outdoors to breathe fresh air and walk. There were those who had lived an extremely solitary life in COVID-19, and they just wanted social connection – the chance to walk, connect and revive.

Slowly slowly, we navigated fears and fantasies, and we began to rebuild WalkingWomen. We tried to support women to take that first step, venture out, and pick the right holiday that would give them the confidence to do more.

Now the conversation turns to ‘I want to travel again, but what about climate change: How can I best tread lightly on the planet? How can I travel more overland, and can you help with plotting these train journeys? Time doesn’t allow for some, but for some, it is a real option.

We know from our local guides and partners how many businesses have suffered from a lack of visitors. Towns and villages that rely on tourism are lost without it. Guides that need walkers as they rely on guiding to earn – more and more women are trying to make a profession from outdoor activities, and we aim to help develop this. We have a network of great guides, and they need work.

Sustainable travel - stepping off a train

Thoughtful travel…

is a topic much discussed, and we decided it was time to debate it at WalkingWomen. We also want to provide more information and support to make sure our travel practices are as sustainable as possible. We always want to debate, and what we love is that every WalkingWomen trip we join, we have rich, diverse discussions about so many important topics.

Read on, and please give feedback on any thoughts or ideas you may have…

Why do we want to travel?

  • Curiosity and Exploration: humans are naturally curious beings. Since ancient times, curiosity about the unknown has driven people to explore new territories, discover different cultures, and gain a deeper understanding of the world around them.
  • Adventure and Novelty: Travel often brings adventure and novelty into our lives. The thrill of experiencing something new- a breathtaking landscape, a unique cuisine, or a different way of life- can be deeply fulfilling.
  • Escape and Relaxation: Travel offers an escape from daily routines and responsibilities. It provides an opportunity to relax, unwind, and temporarily leave behind the stresses of everyday life. Important for our well-being and the joy of life.
  • Cultural Exchange: Interacting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures can be incredibly enriching. Travel allows individuals to learn about different customs, traditions, and worldviews, fostering tolerance and empathy. We see this on every WalkingWomen holiday.
  • Personal Growth: Travel often pushes individuals out of their comfort zones. It challenges them to adapt to new environments, problem-solve, and develop resilience, which can lead to personal growth and self-discovery.
  • Connection and Socialisation: Travel provides opportunities for socialising and forming connections with others. Whether it’s meeting fellow travellers or building relationships with locals, these connections can be meaningful and long-lasting.
  • Historical and Educational Interest: Many people travel to explore historical sites, museums, and educational attractions. Travelling to these places allows individuals to connect with the past and gain knowledge.
  • Nature and the Outdoors: our walking enthusiasts are drawn to travel to experience diverse landscapes, from mountains and forests to beaches and deserts. The beauty of nature is such a powerful motivator to walk in landscapes you may not get at home.
  • Personal Stories and Inspiration: Hearing or reading about the travel experiences of others often inspires us to embark on similar journeys. They ignite our Wanderlust.
  • Sense of Freedom: Travel often represents a sense of freedom, allowing people to make their own choices, set their own itineraries, and explore without constraints.

Since the beginning of time, travel is deeply ingrained in human nature. It satisfies our curiosity, provides adventure and personal growth, fosters connections, and offers a break from the ordinary. It’s a multifaceted aspect of the human experience that continues to drive exploration and discovery around the world. It is what WalkingWomen is all about, and we have so many women role models who have gone before us and inspired us…

Women explorers that have gone before …

Sustainable travel -Amelia Erhart

Sacagawea (c. 1788-1812): A Shoshone woman who accompanied the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the early 19th century, Sacagawea played a crucial role as an interpreter and guide, helping the expedition navigate the American West.

Isabella Bird (1831-1904):  A British explorer and writer, Isabella Bird travelled extensively in the 19th century, documenting her journeys in books. Her travels took her to places like the United States, Australia, India, and the Middle East.

Gertrude Bell (1868-1926): An Englishwoman who explored and mapped regions of the Middle East, Gertrude Bell’s extensive knowledge of the area and her political insights made her an influential figure in shaping British policy in the region.

Amelia Earhart (1897-1937): While she is primarily known as an aviator, Amelia Earhart’s pioneering flights, including her attempt to circumnavigate the globe, contributed to the exploration of the skies.

Dian Fossey (1932-1985): A zoologist and primatologist, Dian Fossey is renowned for her work studying and protecting mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Her dedication to wildlife conservation made her an important figure in the field of primatology.

Jane Goodall (born 1934) is one of the most impactful and important leaders on the planet. Jane Goodall is known for her groundbreaking research on chimpanzees in Tanzania. Her work has revolutionised our understanding of animal behaviour. Her latest novel, and a great favourite of ours, is a great read  The Book of Hope

Sylvia Earle (born 1935): A marine biologist and oceanographer, Sylvia Earle has conducted numerous deep-sea expeditions and was the first woman to become chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Roz Savage: An ocean rower and environmental campaigner, Roz is known for her solo rowing expeditions across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. She advocates for ocean conservation and sustainable living.

Sarah Marquis: a Swiss adventurer and long-distance walker, Sarah Marquis embarked on epic journeys, including walking across Asia, Australia, and the Americas. Her adventures focus on immersing herself in local cultures.

Holly Budge: An adventurer and conservationist, Holly Budge has completed expeditions like skydiving on Mount Everest and cycling solo across New Zealand to raise awareness about conservation issues.

These women explorers made significant contributions to the fields of geography, science, and culture through their courageous journeys and research. They broke gender barriers and inspired future generations of women to explore and discover the world. Women are adventuring more and more, and at WalkingWomen our mission is to support women to get out of their comfort zone and to thrive in embracing the world and new connections.

But how can we make sure we reduce our impact?

Sustainable travel -Wind Farms

Here are some of our tips, and we will continue to improve and take action. We know there is much to care for and remain thoughtful about.

  • Choose Sustainable Transportation

   Opt for eco-friendly modes of transportation like trains or buses. WalkingWomen can advise, and if you have the time, it is a great way to travel. We are building information from our intrepid WW Train travellers, so share any tips or trips.

  Consider flying less or choosing airlines with strong sustainability initiatives, which we will try and identify to help when booking flights.

  • Offset Your Carbon Footprint

Calculate and offset your carbon emissions from travel by investing in carbon offset programs that support renewable energy or reforestation projects.WalkingWomen supports …

  • Travel Light

 Pack efficiently to reduce excess weight, which can improve fuel efficiency for transportation. Watch our video on packing light.

Minimise single-use plastics by bringing reusable water bottles and reusable packed lunch equipment.

  • Stay in Sustainable Accommodations

 Choose hotels, lodges, or accommodations that have eco-friendly practices such as energy-saving lighting, water conservation, and waste recycling. At WalkingWomen we seek these out and work with our partner hotels where we see improvements can be made.

  • Support Local Communities:

Employ local guides putting money back into the local economy.

Buy locally made souvenirs and support local businesses, such as restaurants and shops, to contribute to the local economy.

  • Respect the Environment:

Follow “Leave No Trace” principles by disposing of waste properly and not disturbing wildlife or natural habitats. Throwing fruit cores or bits of food whilst walking is not recommended – take everything home.

Stay on marked trails to minimise environmental impact.

  • Conserve Resources:

   Conserve water and energy by taking shorter showers and turning off lights and appliances when not in use.

Use towels and linens responsibly by reusing them when possible- we encourage guests to reuse towels as much as possible.

  • Eat Responsibly:

   Try local, sustainably sourced foods and avoid overconsumption of resources that are limited

Reduce food waste by ordering and portioning meals wisely. Where portions seem large, we communicate with our hotels to reduce them.

  • Engage in Sustainable Tourism Practices:

   Be mindful of overcrowding at popular tourist destinations, and select less crowded, lesser-known destinations.

 Learn about and respect local customs and cultural norms.

  • Educate Yourself and Others: if WalkingWomen can help, we will

Stay informed about the environmental and cultural issues related to the places you visit.

Share your knowledge and encourage others to travel responsibly.

  • Support Conservation Efforts

Consider donating where you can

  • Plan Longer Stays:

Instead of frequent short trips, plan longer visits to reduce the environmental impact associated with multiple journeys. At WalkingWomen, we are increasingly having holidays following each other so you can extend your stay, and we can help with staying on longer by connecting you with our local contacts.

Finally, to wrap up.

 As a community taking small actions collectively, we can make a significant difference in reducing the impact of travel whilst enjoying some wonderful adventures. By adopting these practices, we can, as travellers, enjoy the benefits of exploring the world while minimising harm to the environment and local communities.

Here’s to thoughtful travel in the future…

Sustainable travel - green shoot

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