Women are flocking to work and travel programs as an alternative to solo travel as they seek out community and opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Travel may result in life-changing epiphanies.
Travel may drive the urge to engage in risky behaviors, like jumping off cliffs into swirling, cerulean waters.
Travel may push the development of never-ending curiosities that will leave you wondering what the next day will bring, because you know that there’s always an adventure right around the corner.
Today, women are throwing these cautions to the wind and hitting the road - at greater rates than ever before.
A study published by George Washington University declared that nearly two-thirds of today’s travelers are women, with the number of female travelers surpassing that of their male counterparts for the first time in modern history.
To the ladies who are living their lives without boundaries, we see you.
Adelaida Diaz-Roa and Lindsay Tigar are two adventurous women, unlike many of their contemporaries, that are embracing travel as a part of their everyday lifestyle. Adelaida, an entrepreneur, and Lindsay, a travel and lifestyle journalist, have each spent a year on the road with a work and travel program, living in cities around the globe while working remotely.
The ability to continue working while seeing the world is just one aspect of a work and travel program that is attractive to women. With the gender wage gap still in full effect, it’s important for women to be able to take part in important life experiences like long-term travel, without losing out on the opportunity to earn more (or at least as much as) the men in their industries that are seeking out similar experiences.
Both Adelaida and Lindsay were able to do this while traveling the world with Remote Year.
Adelaida Diaz-Roa is the co-founder of Nomo FOMO, a social travel network that was developed with a fellow Remote Year participant. She traveled with Remote Year Battuta for the entirety of 2017, venturing through cities like La Paz, Bolivia and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Lindsay Tigar is a travel and lifestyle journalist who traveled with Remote Year Yugen, which is currently wrapping up its final month in Mexico City after making its way through Europe, Asia, and South America.
These two women are prime examples of the ways that travel can help you grow, and specifically why joining a work and travel program is the way to go if you’re a woman who is considering leaving behind a conventional lifestyle for something a little more dynamic.
Much has been said about why women should travel on their own, as there seems to be an idea floating through the general conscious that solo female travel makes you more independent and forces you into growth opportunities. So why did these two powerful women make the choice to join work and travel programs and the communities that come along with them?
“I’ve traveled solo before and, while I had a positive experience, I enjoy being around people more,” Lindsay said. “As an optimist and an extrovert, I feed off of the energy of other people. They keep me motivated, inspired and social. I’m inquisitive by nature as a journalist and I find experiencing new places with a group to be more meaningful than by myself.”
“When I’m with other people, I can ask them questions and witness their reactions and experiences, and it makes for a more well-rounded perspective on a destination or city. Plus, making 50 new travel buddy best friends has been an amazing part of this crazy year.”
Adelaida reasoned that a community would allow her to experience each city to its fullest.
“I’m an ambivert and always need that extra push from friends to go out and stop working or keep me from just reading all day,” Adelaida said. “Traveling in a group gave me that little push I always needed to get out and have fun.”
“An added benefit in large groups like Remote Year is that if you aren’t a planner you can just depend on your group to come up with great ideas that you can join in on. It really helps me get the most out of every city and to really enjoy it. If I need my alone time or want to stay in and read that’s also possible. It’s the best of both worlds!”
“Being on a work and travel program is great because everyone understands that every once in a while, we may need to disappear for a phone call or need to find a place with WiFi to work from and everyone is in the same mindset,” Adelaida said. “Remote Year isn’t a vacation - everyone is here to work while experiencing a flexible lifestyle. It’s a lot harder [now] to find people as amazing as the ones in my Remote Year group. Their support was, and has been, amazing.”
“It’s been two years since our incredible year together ended and we still meet up all of the time. Our group chat is active almost every single day. It’s such a big group that there is almost always someone you could go meet up with or travel somewhere with. That’s very hard to find in most friends from back home because of their jobs.”
There is also safety in numbers. Unfortunately, one of the biggest concerns that women have when they are considering traveling the world is whether or not they will be safe in the cities that they’ll live and work in.
“[Safety] is a valid concern, but don’t let that stop you from traveling,” Adelaida said. “Everything just feels, and is, so much safer when you’re in a group.”
“The truth is, any place can be dangerous. But, when you have street smarts, you’re able to hold yourself confidently and you aren’t afraid to lean into the unknown or the uncomfortable,” Lindsay said. “Traveling—regardless of gender—is a positive, life-altering experience. Throughout Remote Year, I was never so out of my element that I felt like I was in danger. And, while sure, I might feel differently if I was a guy, I think women are often underestimated by the strength they possess, both in physicality and empathy.”
It’s true that, even though we live in a world where the pursuit of equality is considered the norm, traveling as a woman is still different than traveling as a man. In some ways, women have a disadvantage when traveling, while in others, they actually have the upper hand.
“One of the greatest challenges for me as a female traveler is limitations,” Lindsay said. “While, yes, I think women should go anywhere and everywhere, there are certain areas where I wouldn’t have felt safe without a male presence.”
“On Remote Year, we are all lucky to have 50+ built-in friends, so anytime I felt uncomfortable or in danger, I had a guy friend nearby to go with me. That isn’t the case when you’re traveling solo, and sometimes, you have to come up with other ways to see a country. This is frustrating to me, but it is also something I’ve learned about the fabric of the world—it is constantly changing its weaves, even slowly.”
Even with that in mind, Lindsay sees being a woman as an asset on the road.
“As a female traveler—or rather, as a human who is a traveler, too—I keep my cool in stressful situations,” Lindsay said. “While I can get flustered in loud hostels or when I’ve gone a while without eating, in emergencies I tend to respond calmly. In Córdoba, a group of us were stuck in an elevator for an hour, and I ensured that everyone sat down, breathed and didn’t get too worked up.”“Another quality [that I have as a woman] is being very open minded and talking to strangers. As a journalist, I’m always on the hunt for a great story and I’ve learned to follow my instincts. This means when I see someone who I think is interesting, I’m not afraid to introduce myself.”
Adelaida agrees that, even with the challenges that come along with being a female traveler, the journey is worth it.
“Traveling helps you get to know yourself, what you like, what you don’t like, your strengths, your weaknesses, and the good and the bad,” Adelaida said. “When you travel, you meet people from all walks of life and it really opens up a world of possibilities you had never thought about before. Sometimes, as we are being raised, we are told what we should do, what we should like, so that we never stop to figure it out for ourselves. I think travel is the perfect way to get away from it all and figure yourself out and make new friends and opportunities along the way.”
“Everyone should travel–no matter if you’re male, female, transgender—any way you define yourself,” Lindsay agreed. “Without exploring various countries and cultures, your scope of the world, its people, and its beauty is narrow. Traveling teaches you how strong and resilient you are, while also exposing you to hidden, preconceived notions you’ve nurtured over the years. It not only breaks you out of your comfort zone physically, but emotionally. Its value is immeasurable.”
While travel has the capacity to help anyone change and grow if they’re open to it, it had specific results for Lindsay and Adelaida as women.
“Personally, it has made me a happier, more understanding, less judgmental, and driven person,” Adelaida said. “From the professional view, after traveling with such an amazing program for so long, it made me sad to think about how hard it would be to keep track of each other’s travels. I knew how hard it would be to meet more amazing, open-minded and fun people like those in the Remote Nation, so I started a social travel network [Nomo FOMO] with another Remote Year participant. I’ve never been happier! It’s a mix of my two passions in life: connecting people through travel and startups.”
“I’ve become much calmer,” Lindsay added. “I used to worry over little details and get worked up about timing and flights and packing, and now I just let it all flow. As a travel journalist, Remote Year has fundamentally helped me build a career since I’ve had the great privilege of living in a new place every month, which opened up a slew of story ideas. On a personal level, I feel as if I can do anything, and I feel so supported by the community I’ve been lucky to be part of.”
Work and travel programs are a great platform for absorbing many life lessons that can help you grow as a professional, and as a person. However, there are also moments when you’ll get to teach the group a thing or two. Perhaps, like Lindsay, you’ll give a demonstration on just how badass women can be.
Our group climbed the backside of the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur,” Lindsay said. “There was an easy track, a medium track, and a hard track. I managed to scale all three, much to the surprise of the men in our group. I wouldn’t call it a bias, but I do feel as if women have to continuously remind guys, that hey, we’ve got this. We’re good. We’re actually awesome.”
Women are traveling in numbers that are higher than ever before, yet the contradicting stereotype of the importance of solo female travel for growth, combined with the concept that the world is just too scary for women ,prevails. If women want to experience the world without fear hanging over their heads, and prove a few of those biases wrong along the way, a work and travel program is the way to go.
Like Lindsay and Adelaida, women who join work and travel programs have the opportunity to define their lives for themselves, continue onward in their professional pursuits, and enjoy the security and comfort of having a supportive community by their side through every step.