This summer, we're all about making the most of the summer while staying safe -- and staying at home as much as possible. So to make staycation this year the best it can be, we turned to the experts behind travel empowerment community Girls Who Travel for their picks and tricks to maximize fun and adventure, whatever your schedule looks like this season.
To learn more about the story behind Girls Who Travel, we sat down with GWT's founder Arden Joy to get the deets straight from the source! Take a look below for Arden's story, her pro tips to travel from the safety of home, and her top picks from GWT's specially curated collection.
Tell us your story! What gave you the idea for a "travel empowerment" community like Girls Who Travel?
The idea for Girls Who Travel was born out of necessity and has evolved over the years! 15 years ago, there were practically no resources for women travelers -- aka me. I was just starting to travel on my own and I wanted information to help me travel and a place to connect with other women who were exploring the world, and I just couldn’t find anything. So I started one of the very first female-focused travel blogs to curate some basic information and tips as a way to empower other women with the knowledge to travel educated and safely.
Today, there’s a vast online support system of websites and communities where women are now leaders in travel. But there’s still something missing: travel is not just about consumption, and it’s not just about getting the perfect picture for the 'Gram. Travel is about opening our minds to new places, new ideas, new people, new cultures, so that we can become better people. Over the years, my approach to empowering women to travel has evolved into empowering women to use their travels to transform the world. Today, we have a multi-platform community that focuses on building an empathetic place where women from around the globe can connect and share knowledge, experiences, ethics, and acceptance as a way to help each other become better humans so we can all have a better future.
What are some ways people who identify as female or feminine can "travel" from home while sheltering at home?
In Girls Who Travel, we’re seeking to redefine travel. Most people think travel only counts when you’ve got a plane ticket and a passport, but that definition makes travel inaccessible to literally billions of people.
That’s why we believe that travel is about exploring beyond your boundaries. After all, what is it exactly that makes travel so amazing? Getting outside of your world, experiencing something entirely different, being immersed in a culture that isn’t your own, taking in new sights, being a stranger in a strange land?
All of these things are possible in your own country, your own city, your own neighborhood, even your own home. And when you look at travel that way, you suddenly realize that quarantine can’t stop you from seeing the world.
In GWT, we’ve really had to put this to the test during the pandemic. Here are just a few ways we’ve been traveling from home:
Learn a New Language
Being stuck at home is the perfect time to learn a new language. In GWT, we stepped it up a notch and started a language exchange program where our members can pair up and have video calls to practice speaking to each other. When you connect with another person, that’s a great way to learn more about their country and culture too!
Cook and Bake
Isn’t food one of the absolute best parts of traveling? Trying your hand at some new recipes from another country is an awesome way to explore a new cuisine. In GWT, we host a baking show that showcases different desserts from around the world. It’s been so fun trying everything from Russian Bird’s Milk Cake to Canadian Nanaimo Bars.
Go on a Virtual Tour
Tour guides around the world are getting creative and taking their tours online. Just about anything you can imagine, anywhere in the world, is now available as a video call. In GWT, we’ve taken all sorts of virtual trips from a meditation class with a Buddhist monk in Japan to, my favorite, getting a tour of Chernobyl and meeting the dogs who live there and are getting cared for and rehomed.
Read a Book
No, really, books are a powerful travel tool! Our imaginations are so powerful that when we think it, our bodies believe it is happening (it’s science). Books don’t only transport us around the world, they allow us to learn about those places too. In GWT, our book club is always exploring every corner of the globe. Some of our favorites? Next Year in Havana (Cuba), Wild (the Pacific Crest Trail), and Midnight Riot (London).
Join a Travel Community
Thanks to social media, you’re never more than a click away from fellow travelers from across the globe! There are hundreds, probably thousands of female focused travel communities, each with their own unique style. Go check them out, find your travel tribe, make new friends, share memories, learn from each other, and explore together!
If you had to pick 5, what are some of your favorite boxes from your recommendations?
Asking me to pick my favorite boxes is like asking me to pick my favorite countries. Nearly impossible. (But I tried!)
Price: Starts at $45.00/month
Shipping: Ships worldwide from the U.S. between the 9th-12th of the month
Why Arden Loves It: "When you can’t get to the beach, bring the beach to you! Right now, I think we all could use those beachy vibes in our lives."
Price: Starts at $38.33/month
Shipping: Ships worldwide from ths U.S. on the 11th of the month, every 3 months
Why Arden Loves It: "Take a trip four times a year (bet you weren’t doing that before the quarantine) with a book, tea, and art and help empower women and girls? The only thing that could make it better would be to get your reading done on the beach (hint: combine with the Life’s A Wave box)."
Price: Starts at $19.00/month
Shipping: Only ships within the U.S. around the 4th of the month
Why Arden Loves It: "Let your tastebuds do the traveling with tasty treats from around the world. And the best part is, when you’re in quarantine, you don’t have to share (at last, there’s one perk to being in lockdown!)."
Price: Starts at $12.00/month
Shipping: First box only ships within the U.S. 2-3 days after order is placed; following boxes ship on your renewal date
Why Arden Loves It: "While you’re bingeing The Floor Is Lava, why not start organizing the thousands of travel photos you’ve been meaning to get to? Scrapbooking is one of THE best ways to relive your travels."
Price: Starts at $12.08/month
Shipping: Only ships within the U.S. by the 6th of the month
Why Arden Loves It: "In Girls Who Travel, we make a promise to give back to the communities that share their world with us. Buying from local artists is a great way to do that and it comes with a bonus: in addition to helping a family in need, you get something beautiful and meaningful to use or gift."