Where is Your Next Adventure?: Women’s Travel Fest NYC 2014

Earlier this month I attended Women’s Travel Fest in New York City. The one-day event held on International Women’s Day featured inspiring prominent women in the travel industry. The ladies ranged from Travel Channel guru Samantha Brown to the hilarious Unbrave Girl writer Sally Thelen and the inspiring Sarah Shroud, who spent nearly two years being held hostage in Iranian prison. It was an amazing day in which I learned a ton and met some amazing people. The festival also left me pondering on the question of the day, “Where is your next Adventure?”

I even got to meet Samantha Brown! So cool

I even got to meet Samantha Brown! So cool

Location, Location, Location
Travel Fest was held in the amazing Angel Orensanz Foundation on the Lower East Side. The building probably had some of the best architecture I’ve seen in the city.

So pretty!

So pretty!

The festival also featured a ton of vendors for different travel companies and volunteer opportunities around the globe. There were even a few contests to win some trips, but alas, I was not a winner.

The Speakers…

The day was filled with plenty of extraordinary speakers. Although I could relate more to some than others, everyone had something new to teach me.

Self-proclaimed “language geek” Sonia Gil taught the importance of learning key phrases in the countries you visit, and stressed the 12-pound suitcase. Pack for 14 days, she said, regardless of the amount of time you are spending in the place you visit. Considering I looked like a crazy person in the Orlando airport lugging two suitcases-weighing 50 and 75 pounds respectively-along with a giant carry-on, purse and computer bag, that whole packing light thing is probably something I should look into.

Breathedreamgo founder Mariellen Ward spoke of her life-changing journey to India, while mourning her mother.

“Sometimes travel can save your life,”

Ward said. Her words were something I hope to take with me to my life’s journeys. The future is frightening, but travel will always be the best medicine. My trips to London, South Dakota and Florida all happened at crossroads in my own story. My journeys taught me about the world and, as cheesy as it sounds, taught me about myself. I may not have planned any of my trips this way, but everything I learned was a sort of therapy to me. Right now I must stay in one place for a while and get my shit together. The road will come calling again though, when I need the journey and the timing is right.

(unless I get a traveling job, of course, which is actually a possibility I will talk about in an upcoming blog entry :))

Sally Thelen, author of UnBrave Girl and probably one of my favorite speakers of the day, talked about travelling the world from the perspective of someone who never really wanted to travel the world in the first place. The self-proclaimed “scaredy-cat” spoke about overcoming her fears of anything and everything as she trekked all over Asia. Thelen was as hilarious as she was relatable. I am also someone who is paranoid of everyone and everything and Thelen was probably the most relatable and realistic of the speakers. She taught me that you don’t need to be a super hero to travel the world, you just need the push to do it.

Alternatively, the amazing Sarah Shourd spoke of travel from the other side of the spectrum. Shourd
accidently crossed the border of Iraq into Iran and, along with a friend and her future husband, became a political prisoner in Iranian jail. Shourd was kept in solitary confinement for 410 days. Her story was amazing and really spoke of how strong human will can be when faced with impossible situations. Shourd has taken her journey to her work in human rights organizations. Shourd’s book, A Sliver of Life tells her amazing journey and the stories of the amazing people that she met on her way. Shourd has really made the best of her situation and the impact of the horror she went through will change the lives of so many. She is an incredible person.

Heh, I also learned to probably always check when you are within any proximity of a possibly dangerous country.

Go Girl Guides creator and Women’s Fest founder Kelly Lewis started her own set of travel books for women. The books focus on little known facts that a girl needs to know when traveling a specific region, like where to get tampons in Dubai. The guides are told in the same fashion that a woman would use to give her girlfriends travel advice. The books are super fun and I was even inspired to buy a guide to Argentina after the festival. Of course now I really want to go to Argentina, but I digress. Lewis’s books gave way for her to create one amazing event and a room full of women even more inspired to travel around the world.

From left to right, Sally Thelen, Sarah Shourd, Mariellen Ward and Kelly Lewis.

From left to right, Sally Thelen, Sarah Shourd, Mariellen Ward and Kelly Lewis.

Where is Your Next Adventure?

I learned so much from my day at Women’s Travel Festival. I am still not sure where my next journey will be, but I have a few ideas. I’d like to visit my boyfriend while he studies in Los Angeles this summer. I am also really interested in Argentina and would like a few weeks to spend exploring the cities and mountainside. Wherever my life takes me, I can’t wait for my next adventure.