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As travelers, sometimes it’s hard to meet people who understand why exploring the world nourishes our souls. In my case, I have been asked if I will ever “settle down” (code for “get married and kids”) or if my “travel phase will stop ’cause I’ve already been everywhere.” That second statement makes me laugh. I mean, I have way too many countries to still visit, I’m a downright amateur, come now.
So, yeeeeah, it’s essential to “get out there” and connect with other travelers. We all need a dose of inspiration to power through the tough times.
Recently, I had the immense pleasure of attending Women’s Travel Fest. I initially wasn’t sure if I made the right choice. Money isn’t flourishing in my bank account, and taking NJ transit to New York City two days in a row isn’t … the wisest financial decision. But hey, temptation called and I answered loud and clear.
You guys, attending this conference was the best thing I have done for myself in weeks. I don’t regret spending a dime.
Women’s Travel Fest Is Worth Attending!
This conference did wonders for rebuilding my confidence. I wear a brave face for the world and this blog. Fake it til you make it.
Yet sometimes I feel like I’m too fearful to truly travel the world. I’m scared of waaaaaay too many things harming me. Like food poisoning and planes. I don’t always trust my abilities to make smart choices either, which makes solo travel a challenge, because when you’re alone on the road, you can only rely on your damn self.
Women’s Travel Fest proved to me that I’m not alone in my desire to travel. That it doesn’t matter what your gender, race, religion, and/or finances are. Strong self-determination goes a long way when it comes to setting fear into another lane and reaching for your travel dreams.
I have so many more trips planned in my mind now. Patagonia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa. I don’t care about the length of those stupid flights either. I mean, I do CARE, but my anxiety can’t and won’t slow me down.
So why else should attend Women’s Travel Fest? Read on!
The Speakers Are Remarkable
Without a doubt, Women’s Travel Fest had some of the best speakers that I’ve ever had the privilege of listening to. I learned all about travel hacking, building your dream life, working with tourism boards and brands, ways to improve my travel writing, methods to combat sexism poisoning the industry, and so so so much more! On Sunday, you could listen to talks on the main stage and downstairs, depending on your individual interests. I wish I could’ve cloned myself to listen to everything, but alas.
These speakers benefit a wide variety of people, too. I am a travel blogger, but the talks also helped people formally working in the travel industry and women who simply liked to travel. All can learn.
During my conference, two speakers really stood out to me and challenged the way I think about life.
In 2008, Amanda Lindbout was kidnapped by insurgents in Somalia. She was held captive 15 months. For many of those months, she was locked in a dark room where she couldn’t even see her hand in front of her face, and every day, her captors would physically and sexually abuse her.
Amanda’s keynote was so powerful that not a single eye was dry in the audience. She spoke about the Somali woman who attempted to rescue her, who threw her body on top of her and begged to captors to set her free because “she was her sister.” She spoke about two voices arguing inside her head during her darkest hours: one voice insisted her life was over, everything was gone, her humanity stripped away to nothing, but another voice, one of hope, would always chime in and tell her not to give up.
Her core message was to expel anger from your body. To forgive. To realize “hurt people hurt people.”
Amanda’s words struck a deep chord with me, because I have a hard time forgiving others. Sure, I’m a decently nice person and look out for people who are dear to me, but I don’t like giving second or third chances. Furthermore, I carry grudges and then do things that hurt me whenever I feel emotional pain. In the past, I’ve deliberately hurt others, living out the message that “hurt people hurt people,” and have seen the results firsthand.
When I met Amanda later in the evening, I told her that her keynote’s core message moved me and inspired me to do whatever it takes to live a life of compassion and forgiveness, and release anger forever. She made me understand forgiveness isn’t necessarily for the person who damaged you, but a gift you can give yourself to move on. She gave me the biggest hug in return and said “I was meant here.”
So yeah. These speakers will change your life.
I have been reading Oneika’s blog, called “Oneika The Traveler,” for years and years! When I was in a low point in my life (aka when NJ refused to give me a teaching position thanks to their budget woes), I read Oneika’s blog and dreamed about working in an international school.
Oneika no longer teaches and now works with The Travel Channel – which is so, so, so epic! Honestly, if you can reach The Travel Channel, then you know you’ve made it.
Her talk was all about how success doesn’t immediately fall into our laps. If success was easy, everyone would have reached their high points. Oneika explained to us that you will experience many highs and lows and setbacks before you come close to accomplishing your goals. You don’t always realize that you’re following the path closer to your dream either. Life takes us on unexpected detours.
As for me, I tend to “give up” pretty quickly if life decides to throw rotten apples at my head. I throw up my hands and hide in my room and watch crappy TV shows on Netflix, while wallowing about how the world is too hard for poor pretty blond me.
Yeah. I need to stop. Lounging and sulking in poodle pajama pants is not attractive.
You Will Make “Wanderlusty” Friends
Like I said, sometimes it’s hard for us travelers to make friends who share our passion to the same extent we do. Women’s Travel Fest gives you the opportunity to bond with other women who looooooove travel! The overall environment is very social, with a pre-party and networking reception included in the schedule, making it super simple to talk to new people. While some people attended with friends, a lot of women chose to go to the conference alone – which also made it easier to start a conversation.
Building your social circle with like minded people works wonders for your confidence. Besides, with the conference consisting of women, it was comfortable to talk about subjects uniquely affecting us, such as sexism in the travel industry. There was also a panel discussing specific experiences women of color face when they are traveling and creating content for an audience. It was eye-opening for me.
All in all, I found Women’s Travel Fest a very safe space to make friends.
Empowerment Will Come Your Way
Mostly important, Women’s Travel Fest is all about building your inner confidence so you can keep living the very life you want. We only have a limited amount of time on this planet. Why spend a moment unsatisfied? You need to pursue your passions.
Don’t get stuck in a job that makes you cry everyday. Don’t make toxic friendships that chip at your self-esteem. Don’t live in a town or city that makes your stomach tie into knots. And, for the love of god, don’t take “no” as an answer. You can always find a way to make your dreams come true even if one door closes in your face. Fight back.
Caz of yTravel Blog had an incredible talk about making your dream life a reality. I will never forget her saying to make every choice with courage, kindness, and magic.
Dream big. You can do this.
Have you ever been to Women’s Travel Fest? What other conferences have you attended?