We’ve all learned about such individuals like Christopher Columbus or Bartolomeu Dias, but many of us, asked to name one female traveler, would most likely answer with a moment of awkward silence. Nevertheless, both in historical and modern times, women have been curious, adventurous and courageous enough to discover the world, very often on their own. For centuries it was much harder for them to become explorers, yet they went wandering anyway, despite all obstacles. The sense of wanderlust proved to be stronger than severe limitations. Nowadays, even though equality is more common, female travelers often face particular difficulties as well. They’re being told traveling as a woman is dangerous and challenging and, when they decide to ignore these warnings, hear about how irresponsible or strange they are. Of course, it’s not always the case, women travel solo more and more, and they usually receive support as well as approbation, yet, from time to time, they also have to answer such questions as “where’s your boyfriend?”, “aren’t you scared to do it?”, “why don’t you start a family instead, this lifestyle is eccentric, to say the least.” To encourage all adventurous females to make their dreams come true, here’s a list of 12 inspiring, brave travelers. They have wandered around the world, lived amazingly full lives and shown that, in spite of what stereotypes claim, gender doesn’t define one’s strength, adventurousness, endurance or courage.
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Jeanne Baré (1740 – 1807)
Jeanne Baré was the first woman to travel around the whole globe. She did it in 1766–1769, as a part of the Louis Antoine de Bougainville’s expedition. She had an affair with Philibert de Commerson, a botanist (Baré was a botanist as well) who was invited to join the Bougainville’s team. To be close to her lover (especially that he wasn’t in good health), Baré accompanied him during the journey. Most interestingly, they both had to lie to make it happen. Baré got on the ship disguised as a man and used the name Jean Baret. To avoid suspicions, the lovers pretended to be strangers. After the year it was discovered, there was a woman on board, but she completed the journey anyway.
Nellie Bly (1864 – 1922)
Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman) was not only a traveler but also a journalist, inventor, writer, and charity worker. Influenced by Julius Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, she decided to beat the record set by the main character and circumnavigate the world in less than 80 days. She managed – her fast, eventful, venturesome trip lasted 72 days. As if that didn’t impress enough, Bly had several other astonishing achievements, including a famous exposé about a mental health institution. The writer pretended to have a psychiatric disorder so that she could enter the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island and reveal the cases of abuse taking place there.
Annie Londonderry (1870 – 1947)
The first woman to travel around the world by bicycle, Annie Londonderry was not only adventurous and original but also enterprising. She financed the journey by turning herself and her bicycle into a quirky billboard. Companies paid her for pasting their advertisements to the bike and her clothes so that she carried them around the world and promoted the brands. Interestingly, before the trip, she had never ridden a bicycle. She managed to travel for 15 months, earn enough money to cover the expenses and explore such countries as the United States (where she was living), Egypt, France, Jerusalem, and Singapore.
Freya Stark (1883-1993)
Amazing explorer and writer, Stark, as one of the first non-Arabians, entered Western Iran on her own and traveled around the southern Arabian Deserts. She trekked dangerous trails and located the Valleys of the Assassins. Then, during the World War II, she was engaged in spreading propaganda in the Middle East, trying to convince Arabs to support the Allies (or at least keep a neutral position). She also went on exploring the region. She lived over a hundred years and remained active for a long time. In her 70ties, she visited Afghanistan. Throughout her long and eventful life, Stark wrote over 30 books.
Amelia Earhart(1897 – probably 1937)
While women were expected to be mothers and housewives, Earhart decided she wanted to be a pilot. She didn’t let the expectations of society to stand on her way. Inspired by a stunt-flying exhibition, she realized her place is inside of a cockpit. She was the first female pilot who flew across Atlantic. Her passion and innovativeness lead her to fund The Ninety-Nines: International Organization of Women Pilots. To inspire other women, Earhart also wrote articles about aviation for the famous Cosmopolitan magazine. Following her ambitions, she tried to fly around the world, but during the trip, both Earhart and her plane went missing. Until now nobody knows what exactly happened to her, yet she has remained an inspiration and an example of a woman who’s ready to take risks to make her dreams come true.
Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz (born in 1936)
No other woman before Chojnowska-Liskiewicz has sailed around the world on her own. She started her journey from the Canary Islands, steered across the Atlantic Ocean, reached the Panama Canal and the Pacific Ocean. Then she sailed to Australia, crossed the Indian Ocean and sailed down around Africa. The circumnavigation of the world was completed in 401 days. That means the courageous captain spent over a year on the sea, dealing with all sorts of difficulties by herself, from storms to ship maintenance.
Rosie Swale-Pope (born in 1946)
In the age of 57, Rosie Swale-Pope decided to run all around the world. Because her husband died of cancer, she gave meaning to her journey – raising awareness about cancer and the importance of early diagnosis. She also raised money for charity and supported orphaned children in Russia. It took her five years to complete the journey. Moreover, Rosie sailed across the Atlantic, trekked around Chile on horseback, ran across Nepal, Cuba, Albania and many other countries. She has published several books and collected lots of money for various charities.
Laura Dekker (born in 1995)
Laura was born during her parents’ seven-year sailing trip. Knowing this fact, you might be a bit less surprised with what she has done, but it’s still incredibly impressing and astonishing. In the age of 14, Dekker announced she was going to complete a circumnavigation of the world as the youngest sailor ever. After dealing with the objections of authorities, at the age of 15, she began her journey and returned home one year later. She traveled with no assistance, in an 11.5-metre two-masted ketch. Her wanderlust hasn’t expended, and she has completed several other journeys in the past few years, including road trips and boat tours.
Do you know of some other impressing female travelers? Let us know! And, to spread the inspiration, share this article with your friends!