Every March, we come together to celebrate women and their global impact on history. We look back to the mavens and rebels, the explorers and visionaries who pushed boundaries and shrugged off convention in the name of women’s advancement. The fire lit by our predecessors burns bright in today’s generation of women who continue to strive for a better tomorrow. Whether launching new companies, winning EMMY awards, or lifting the voices of marginalized communities—these ten inspiring women in travel are worth a follow.
1. The Champion of Diversity: Evita Robinson
As the founder of Nomadness Travel Tribe and the creator of Nomadness Fest, Evita Robinson continues to push the travel industry in the direction of diversity and inclusion. Nomadness Travel Tribe is a community of Black and Brown travelers bonded by a passion for seeing the world. Through Nomadness, members are able to attend group trips as well as book tickets to the annual Nomadness Fest (formerly Audacity Fest), which is the first travel conference specifically geared towards the BIPOC community. Whether she’s on stage for a TED Talk (a must-watch, if you haven’t seen it) or consulting brands on how to capture a more diverse audience—Evita is a powerhouse worth following.
2. The Explorer: Rachel Rudwall
As an EMMY-nominated on-camera host, producer, camera operator, writer, and photographer—Rachel Rudwall has journeyed to nearly 70 nations. Her impressive resume includes hosting Travel Channel’s Epic Lists and HLN’s Vacation Chasers, and shooting photography for renowned publications like AFAR (of which she is an ambassador) and Forbes. Notably, Rachel was named a fellow for The Explorer’s Club, a non-profit in New York dedicated to the advancement of field exploration and scientific discovery. Being named a fellow has earned Rachel a coveted spot in this pantheon of great explorers, alongside names like Buzz Aldrin, Sir Edmund Hillary, and Elon Musk.
3. The Original Solo Traveler: Brooke Saward
In many ways, I consider Brooke Saward to be the original solo travel blogger. Back when I was first starting out in my career and condemned to a sad cubicle in downtown Manhattan, it was Brooke’s blog, World of Wanderlust, that kept popping up on my radar as the definitive solo travel resource. It’s an understatement to say Brooke’s work inspired my career; it pretty much defined it.
Through World of Wanderlust, Brooke was able to form a global network of travelers and show her nearly 550K followers how to shrug off convention and live a life of adventure. Since its inception, Brooke’s blog led to other equally impressive endeavors, such as her book published by Penguin Random House Australia and her brick and mortar bakeries, Charlie’s and the soon-to-open, Brooki. In case you’re wondering how exactly Brooke managed to build a successful career and travel blog, you can take her Travel Blogging Masterclass.
4. The Record Breaker: Jessica Nabongo
Jessica Nabongo first came across my radar when we interviewed her about her record-breaking mission to be the first Black woman to visit every country on earth—and record that journey. Since that interview, Jessica has completed her mission and built herself a rapt audience of over 200,000 followers keen to see what she does next. Lucky for them, Jessica continues to shine with the launch of her e-commerce site, The Catch, and an exclusive members-only travel group called the Nabongo List, offering curated travel experiences. Jessica’s latest endeavor is a stunning book from National Geographic that captures her journey through over 100 countries in vivid imagery and detail. Pre-order The Catch Me If You Can today!
5. The Accessible Travel Activist: Emma Muldoon
March may be Women’s History Month, but it also happens to be Disability Awareness Month. Too often, accessibility is left out of the travel conversation, which is a problem. Enter Emma Muldoon (AKA Simply Emma), who is the woman behind the UK’s leading travel and disability blog. Simply Emma focuses on accessible travel and Emma’s personal experience of living with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy. Her blog’s mission is to encourage other disabled travelers to venture beyond their hometowns and see the world, while providing them with accessible travel tips, hotel reviews, and activities.
6. The Family Adventurer: Nellie Huang
Originally from Singapore, Nellie Huang is the woman behind The Wild Junket, an adventure blog where she shares her travels to over 145 countries (and counting). With her work featured on the likes of CNN, Lonely Planet, and BBC Travel (to name a few), Nellie balances life as a mom with her insatiable desire to visit every nation on earth. The Wild Junket uniquely combines exhilarating travel stories (like these unusual destinations) and the practicalities of family adventure travel. If you’ve ever thought having a kid means permanently putting away your suitcase, let Nellie prove you wrong.
7. The Culinary Goddess: Rani Cheema
Rani Cheema is the founder of the boutique tour company, Cheema’s Travels, where she combines her passion for culinary delights with globetrotting. Whether sipping on Port wine in Portugal or slurping up seafood stew in South Korea, Rani’s culinary group trips introduce travelers to local chefs and restauranteurs for a one-of-a-kind experience (and taste) of a culture. Beyond her group trips, Rani is also the creator of this stellar bodega, in which she routinely shares women and BIPOC-owned products she is currently loving.
8. The EMMY-Winner: Oneika Raymond
Oneika Raymond is a woman who does it all. She’s a travel journalist, a media personality, an on-air correspondent for NBC’s New York Live TV, host of Travel Channel’s Big City, Little Budget, a podcast host of Marriott Bonvoy’s About the Journey, and a frequent on-air contributor for outlets like CNN. Her work with New York Live TV even earned her a recent EMMY! Beyond her stellar on-air work, Oneika is the woman behind the blog, Oneika the Traveller, where she continues to inspire and empower BIPOC travelers. In 2018, her blog was named Best Travel Blog by the Society of American Travel Writers. Oneika’s colorful aesthetic makes her Instagram a true joy to follow.
9. The Entrepreneur: Kelly Lewis
When it comes to women’s travel, Kelly Lewis is basically a household name. This fierce entrepreneur has managed to launch travel guidebooks, a women’s tour company, an annual women’s travel conference, AND become a new author in the process. The founder of Go! Girl Guides and the recent author of Tell Her She Can’t (a book that celebrates women who overcame adversity), Kelly is also the founder of Damesly, which curates women-only luxury trips to places like Jordan, Egypt, and Kenya. In addition, Kelly is the creator of the annual Women’s Travel Fest, which celebrates women in the industry and the glass ceilings they shatter. Oh, did I mention Kelly is also a founding member of this very publication? Yep, she does it all.
10. The Community Creator: Beth Santos
If you haven’t heard of Wanderful and Beth Santos, then pull up a chair and take a listen. Wanderful is the go-to women’s travel community with over 50 chapters in cities around the globe and 45,000+ members. The Wanderful community connects women worldwide, whether they are looking for travel advice or simply want to connect with a local woman in a destination.
At the head of this massive network is Beth Santos, who continues to create spaces that champion both women and BIPOC voices. During the COVID-19 lockdown, the Wanderful community expanded into a vibrant virtual space where members can enjoy virtual chats, book clubs, and panel discussions that cover an array of important topics. With the return of in-person events, you can now connect with other Wanderful members at the annual Women in Travel Summit and the newly launched, Wanderfest.