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Kristen Fuller | 07.01.2019

“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.”

—Albert Einstein

Adventuring to a new place for the very first time is invigorating. You are stepping out of your comfort zone and into a huge place of unknowns filled with adventure and the potential to see many beautiful places and meet wonderful people. Whether you are throwing on a backpack and hiking miles and miles into the mountains, joining a group of women to fly across the world, or solo adventuring on your first road trip, traveling as a female is definitely empowering. But is it safe?

The safety issue of women travelers, whether they are traveling solo or in a group seems to arise a lot and the short answer is, yes, it is safe. However, just like in everyday circumstances, we must travel smart: Always be aware of your surroundings, mind your alcohol, do not wear revealing clothing or jewelry, be kind, and always act and look like you know what you are doing and where you are going.

Planning any sort of trip can be overwhelming. Where do you even start? Do you hire a company or plan everything on your own? What kind of gear do you need? These are just some of the many questions that you may ask yourself. Depending on what you are looking for, sometimes hiring a company to plan all of these details for you is the easiest and safest way, especially if you plan on doing a multi-day trek that requires lots of reservation and permits. Trekking Machu Picchu, climbing Kilimanjaro, and stepping foot on Everest Basecamp all require you join professional guided companies, whereas backing the John Muir Trail can be done on your own but does require a lot of planning and gear. Hiring a female adventure company is a great way to connect with other like-minded females, however, regardless if you decide to venture on a solo trek or hire a reputable company, you are destined to meet new people.

Women-Empowered Adventure Companies

WHOA Travel

Women High on Adventure, aka WHOA Travel, is a female international adventure travel company that plans extraordinary trips around the world to trek to the top of some of the tallest peaks and most beautiful mountain ranges on earth. It is a company run by women for women. Because it is a full-service travel company, it is a bit pricey, and of course you would save money if you planned everything on your own, but one of the main goals of booking with WHOA Travel is to meet fellow female adventurers—a chance to meet lifelong friends.

“We combine our passions with compassion. We give back and we take risks. We are strong-willed and light-hearted. We come from all corners of the world and different walks of life, but we have a shared sense of adventure and desire to explore our beautiful world. We know that together we can do more than climb mountains… we can move them. We are Women High On Adventure.”

Women Who Explore

Women Who Explore is a female lead adventure group that caters to women of all ages who are looking for a weekend getaway, an international adventure, or a local meet up. They have chapters all over the United States, and their adventures are fitted for every woman, whether you are on a shoestring budget or looking to throw down some dough. From weekend trips to the Colorado Rockies and day hikes in the eastern Sierra to week-long adventures in Iceland, Women Who Explore is a versatile organization for any female looking for an adventure.

“We formed this community for YOU, for every woman out there, no matter what age you are, how experienced or inexperienced you are, what your income level is, what color your skin is and so on.”

Mountain Gods Peru

Run by a wonderful woman, Elizabeth and her husband Ronnie, this local Peruvian trekking company is one of the best in Peru. If you are looking to hike through the Andes with a visit to the beautiful Machu Picchu, Mountain Gods Peru https://www.mountaingodsperu.com/ is an ethical, well-organized, affordable, and fantastic company to hire. Elizabeth makes sure her entire team is treated fairly on the mountain and is always eager to teach you about her heritage, and she may even introduce you to her wonderful mother.

Take on Nepal

If you are looking to trek around Everest and the Himalayas, Take on Nepal has every type of adventure possible, including a women-only trek. Take on Nepal is one of the few owned and operated Nepal trekking companies by a Nepali-born individual, Som Tamang, and his Irish partner, Susan. This wonderful couple is dedicated to giving back to the local people of Nepal while making sure their entire trekking team including their guides and Sherpas are treated with the highest standard of care, safety, and ethical practices.

Tipping

If you choose to hire an adventure company to take you on a trip of a lifetime, it is important to understand the tipping guidelines, as they vary within each region of the world. Your mountain guides, cooks, and porters (Sherpas in Nepal) rely on your tips to provide for their families. It is extremely important to always ask the organization you hire what is the proper tip amount you should give to each guide, cook, and porter per day (for each individual female client). You should be very wary if the organization gives a vague reply about tipping or if they tell you that “tips are optional.” An ethical and reputable trekking company will be very honest and straightforward about tips, and they want they mountain crew to be taken care of. A general rule of thumb is as follows:

  • Guides: $20-25 per day
  • Cooks: $15-20 per day
  • Porters: $10-15 per day

It is important to pay at the end of your trip and to hand a personalized envelope to each person on your team, to ensure that every team member is tipped properly.

Gear

Regardless of where you are going, you will most likely need to invest in some gear, which can be expensive. If you choose to hire an organization, they should provide you a very detailed packing list and will tell you if technical gear, such as crampons or ice axes, is required. Many of these companies will also give you the option of renting gear from them once you arrive at your destination, which means less stuff to pack in your suitcase and less damage to your wallet. If you are looking to buy new gear for this trip, keep in mind that gear can always be found on sale or can be purchased from used gear stores.

Question to Ask

Before deciding which adventure organization is the best fit for you, it is important to do your homework. Check out their website and send them a quick email since you can usually get a feel for the company through their email response. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask before you book:

  • How much is the deposit for this trip and when is it due?
  • Is the trip refundable and if so is there a specific cancellation deadline?
  • Do you provide transportation to and from the airport?
  • Do you provide hotel accommodations before we start the adventure?
  • Do you cater to allergies and food intolerances?
  • Do most of your female clients join as individuals or with other friends?
  • Do I have to worry about bear-proofing my food?
  • Do I need to provide my own first-aid kit?
  • Do I need to purchase travel insurance, and if so do you recommend a specific company?

Comments

07/22/2019
Hello all—thanks for your comments. I love the feedback! Your comments bring up a great point, and I'll let them stand on their own, suffice it to say that there are many ways to "travel solo," even if it doesn't mean you're 100% unsupported as you might be if you planned and executed literally every aspect of your journey on your own. For more about that kind of unsupported experience, you should check out @gg_miranda (Instagram), our guest editor, who's currently solo adventuring in the Italian Alps, and who will head on a 600-kilometer journey through Slovenia, alone, unsupported. She has a lot of interesting insight about her experience and how she's been met by others along the way that you might find more useful and engaging.
07/10/2019
I agree with ARW & Julie. I get that this post was supposed to be comforting to nervous female travelers, but this article is nowhere near empowering. I, for one, have never looked to a company that is geared toward women or done any sort of all-women tour. I've traveled into the wilderness and abroad by myself a lot, and these aren't the bits of information that I find useful. How about some actual practical (and encouraging) tips so that women feel great about going at it solo?? It's disheartening to see the number of "how not to get raped/attacked" when it comes to travel & running (& existing).
07/08/2019
I entirely agree with the comment from ARW! For me, traveling in an independant way means not relying on guiding company to go on adventures. The author of this article seem to ignore that women can have skills and knowledge that allow them to pursue outdoor adventures with support. Dissappointing.
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