I can still remember the moment I chose the name for this blog like it was yesterday. It was my last semester of college, and it was supposed to be springtime but the weather clearly hadn’t gotten the message. I was sitting at my favorite desk in my favorite room of the Mt. Holyoke College library on the 6th floor. There was an enormous pile of books next to me, which I was supposed to be using while working on the colossal mess that would become my senior thesis, and which I was doing my best to ignore.
Some things never change, and intense procrastination is one of them.
I had one of my many notebooks out and I was doodling down all of my favorite words trying to piecemeal together a name for the blog I just signed up for on a whim on Blogspot. Hands up if any of you guys were around in those days!
After ages of circles and “x”s, red sweeping slashes and little hearts, I finally settled on “Memoirs of a Young Adventuress,” rather grandiose and ambitious for a twenty-one year old girl from Virginia, don’t you think?
Ah memoirs – how old do you have to be before you can properly have a memoir anyway? 50? 70? I suppose it doesn’t matter, but let’s just say I had, and still have, big intentions. Back then I was planning to embark on a lifetime of voyages, expeditions and general adventures worthy of a memoir, better to start sooner rather than later, right?
Within the week I was off to Peru for spring break with my college beau and the following fall I was planning to move to Spain to teach English. Definitely memoir worthy and better late than never, right?
But the last word was the most important – originally “adventurer,” with a quick swipe and curve of my pen I whimsically changed it to “adventuress,” even more pretentious and elaborate than before.
For some reason I couldn’t put my finger on nearly five years ago, it was important to me that the name showed that I was a woman.
While there area plenty of kick-ass women out there doing incredible things around the world, I wouldn’t be so simple to say it was because I was trying to make a statement saying “hey listen up, girls travel too.” It’s far more complicated than that.
Even now I have trouble pinning down what exactly motivated me to change “adventurer” to “adventuress” beyond the simple fact of wanting to have the title indicate I was a woman. Or almost woman. Well, that’s still debatable, really.
But here we are.
So many amazing and extraordinary things have come about thanks to this blog, all of which I could have never predicted that freezing cold afternoon in March.
Perhaps the biggest surprise and the one I’ve found to make me the happiest over the year wasn’t free trips around the world or packages of swag and goodies in the mail, it was the incredible community that’s exploded out of the blog. Who would have ever thought?
Seriously, if you knew me growing up, you would be just as astonished as me. The unpopular nerd in the back of the class teetering between being a know-it-all and a shy duck, no one would have ever accused me of being popular let alone a community building female.
The other day I got the cutest email in my inbox from a reader with the subject line “I want to be an adventuress like you!” and I nearly died of happiness. I am not exaggerating.
But it got me thinking about the word “adventuress” something that sort of slipped to the back of my mind over the years. It was something I was conscious of, obviously, but not always in the forefront of my mind, and everything it meant. It was time to reexamine my roots.
We adventuresses need to stick together!
So in lieu of the world’s cutest email sent to a blogger ever and a follow up to one of my most popular posts, the Solo Female Traveler’s Manifesto, I thought I’d go ahead and share my tips and ideas of how to be an adventuress in 5 easy steps. Follow along!
1. Be a girl and don’t be discouraged
I hate to follow gender rules, but it needs to be said.
Let’s face it – for some bizarre reason in my experience, when girls announce that they want to embark on a solo travel expedition, they do not receive the same encouragement as guys. Period. End of story.
In fact, I find they are overwhelmingly discouraged. At least I am discouraged all the time and I have been doing this “travel on my own” thing for a while now. Why can’t people wish me luck instead of making me worry? Isn’t that rather rude?
I am a big believer that men and women should go travel the world alone at one point or another in their lives, and normally I never distinguish between solo travel as a chick or a dude, but I have yet to travel to a place where my solo female travel has not been questioned at least once. And not me being alone. Me being alone AND a woman. And even then often I am questioned when I with other people.
It needs to stop.
Women need to be encouraged, not discouraged. End of story.
So as an adventuress, it’s your duty to not discourage other ladies from traveling and looking for adventures AND don’t let anyone discourage you either.
Be an example.
2. Be open-minded
If you’re going to be an adventuress, you have to be open-minded, no two ways about it.
Being openminded is not always an easy lesson to learn and it’s one that takes constant practice, especially on the road. This can be interpreted in a lot of ways, but usually I take it to mean to not automatically say no to something without giving it some thought.
“Hey do I feel like jumping out of a plane today?”
“Hey random person I just met, should I trust you?”
“Hey person from a totally different culture with
questionable different morals, am I going to judge you for that?”
3. Be positive
Look, I get it. It’s not always easy being positive 24/7. In fact, that’s pretty impossible.
But to be an adventuress, you gotta learn to look on the bright side. Life is hard. Travel is challenging. Adventures are rarely easy, if ever. But that’s the whole point.
If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
Women have a knack for trying to talk themselves out of things, to focusing on the negative instead of the positive.
You have to learn to embrace the bad with the good and continue to move forward and not let the negativity hold you back from your adventures.
So what if you just flew off your horse AGAIN into 2 feet of mud in the wilderness in Mongolia in front of everyone in the only pair of riding pants you brought? You’re in Mongolia (Liz), calm down, shit happens, mud is mud, and you were wearing a helmet. A year ago you would have never imagined you would be having such adventures, look at you now!
It’s all about perspective people – keep it positive and learn to give yourself kickass pep talks.
4. Be smart
And I don’t mean in the bookish sense. I mean street smart. Or better yet, learn to be wise.
To be an adventuress you have to be prepared to take risks. That being said, there are many types of risk. There are things like skydiving that people are inherently afraid of but statistically the risk is minimal. Often media tells us we need to avoid riskier countries as a woman, like in the Middle East, but again, how risky is it?
And then there are the smaller, every day things where the real risks generally hide. As an adventuress you will have to learn to be smart on the road and learn to read and judge risky situations.
Remember, you have already agreed to be open-minded, but with experience and time you will learn to decide easily and quickly what’s safe and what isn’t, especially when you are traveling alone. Keep your wits about you and trust your instincts. Also, get travel insurance! ‘Cos accidents happen, whether we are cautious or not (World Nomads offer the perfect policy for the adventure traveler, AND it’s affordable!)
Taking care of yourself is first and foremost the most important thing on the road. In the long run, who gives a fuck if you accidentally offended someone who you felt was threatening or risky.
Be a “yes” girl but don’t be afraid to say “no” when you need to either.
5. Have some faith in yourself
Speaking from experience, it is so incredibly easy to say, “nope, I can’t do that,” than to try something new. Don’t be a weenie.
If you are determined to be an adventurous person, you have got to knock that shit off immediately.
You will never, ever get far or become an adventuress if you don’t believe in yourself. And here’s a secret, if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will either.
So what if it’s hard? So what if it’s scary? So what if you have never done it before? So what if you fail?
Adventures are all about embracing the unfamiliar, jumping off the proverbial cliff into the unknown. But remember, being an adventuress means something different to each and every person. An adventurous activity for me is quite possibly not the same as for you (more here).
You have to learn to view all sides of a situation, decide if it’s a good challenge and right for you before proceeding. I get scared and nervous before pretty much every adventurous activity I participate in.
But I do it anyway, safe in the knowledge that no one can truly fail if they try and put their best effort forward and also knowing that coming through a scary or challenging experience will make me a stronger and better person in the long run. Trust me on this.
Hands up if you’re an adventuress! Tell me your thoughts, how do you feel about women’s travel? Solo or otherwise?