There's no doubt that millennials are changing the face of the travel industry, and for women especially travel is often seen as transformational -- when not totally irrational.
As we gear up for the spring and summer season, I set out today to cover some of the best tips out there for traveling with your gal pals.
But the more I looked into it, the more I realized just how polarizing this discussion can be.
First there's the whole Eat, Pray, Love camp. When Elizabeth Gilbert wrote the famous memoir chronicling her travels across the world to rediscover herself following a mid-life crisis, she started an entirely new trope in literature and film -- which is seen again when Carrie Bradshaw takes her besties on her honeymoon that Mr. Big didn't have the decency to show up for, and later on gave us Cheryl Strayed's WILD.
Now, don't get me wrong. I loved both Eat, Pray, Love and WILD, which I read while in the midst of a rocky breakup myself. They presented a model for rediscovering the strong independent woman I wanted to become. So I'm not one to poke fun at the genre, though many critics do have a point when calling out the privilege it takes to have the ability to walk away from reality to spend a few months in Bali, Italy, and India.
But is heartbreak really necessary to precipitate a journey of self-discovery?
That's what gets me down on this whole idea that travel and self-discovery only makes sense after you've reached burnout, heartbreak, or as The Atlantic points out, if you need a break from the endless cycle of job hunting in the face of our still-uncertain economy.
Why do you travel? Have you planned a trip or are you planning one? What spurred it on and what did you gain from it?
Time and again women cite travel and adventure as sources of self-discovery and confidence. And I totally understand that. There's something thrilling about learning to navigate new terrain on your own.
Perhaps that's why our generation is making travel more of a priority than prior generations. According to The Atlantic:
"The United Nations estimates that 20 percent of all international tourists, or nearly 200 million travelers, are young people, and that this demographic generates more than $180 billion in annual tourism revenue, an increase of nearly 30 percent since 2007."
And yet the idea of women traveling alone still raises some serious eyebrows in our culture -- a phenomenon that Cristen and Caroline covered on their podcast, Stuff Mom Never Told You, and highlighted how yet again women victims are seen as at fault when crime does happen to solo travelers.
"What was she doing out there all alone?" is the sometimes not-so-silent question raised when women travelers are victimized.
That underlying suspicion is something our own Bossed Up Bootcamp alum, Taylor, faced when she made solo travel a priority.
"Frankly, I thought picking up and traveling abroad was this unattainable, financially-reckless thing that only other people could do," she said, "It's not something my friends were doing, and so I just sort of stifled that desire while pursuing my career. I have a stable, 9-to-5 job at a major think tank that I love, after all. I wasn't going to quit my life and go on some Eat Pray Love world tour."
But despite some moments of loneliness, Taylor found the trip to be incredibly empowering and transformative, and she almost immediately booked her next trip upon returning home. You can read her entire #FierceFriday Feature chronicling her adventures here to learn more.
Because the reality is, despite all the emphasis on safety and precautions that women travelers should take, a 2002 study found that women reported feeling liberated rather than terrified when traveling solo.
And beyond that, adventure and travel -- whether you go it alone or with your own girl gang -- yields wide-ranging benefits that include time for thinking and deep reflection, rest and renewal, and new perspectives gained by new surroundings.
I think it's time we re-write the story about women travelers. You don't need a breakup, quarter-life crisis, or chaperone to justify travel and adventure.
And that's exactly why Altitude Seven, a digital media company, is setting out to change the face of adventure with their #ChooseAdventure campaign. They're featuring women who have chosen adventure as a way of life -- and they're currently accepting nominations on their website.
I encourage all of us to reap the benefits of travel and adventure without accepting the same old story about heartbreak, career crisis, or danger looming around every corner. It's why it made perfect sense for us to launch the Bossed Up retreat in Costa Rica this August, where we're gathering with Bossed Up women to take a break, rest, and reflect on the life we want to lead on the trip of a lifetime.
As Marybeth Bond, author, speaker, and founder of GutsyTravel.com said in a recent NYT interview called "Advice for Women on the Road, "Don't let fear keep you at home...There is never a perfect time. So don't wait, go now."
I hope you'll heed her advice make time for travel this season.
Share your travel plans below and tell me what you think of all this.
Does traveling alone still seem like a totally-crazy concept to you? Are you planning an all-girls getaway or a family vacay this summer? How did you make decisions on where to go and what to do -- and what do you hope to gain from your trip?