Eight Sustainable Travel Experiences Supporting Women

Before the pandemic, revenue from global tourism peaked at $1.47 trillion in 2019. Women often find more opportunities within tourism compared to other industries; the travel sector had a majority-female workforce in 2019, with 54 percent of global tourism professionals identifying as women compared to 39 percent of women in the broader economy.

If you want to contribute to the recovery – as in leaving home and seeing the sites – check out these eight experiences that sum up the spirit of Women’s History Month. All are women-led, and work with travelers to connect with locals in a way that’s safe and comfortable for everyone.

First up, find accommodation that suits your needs

The ability to connect with others through travel is one of the most wonderful experiences our world has to offer. Unfortunately, not everyone feels equally safe or at home while traveling. If you identify as a woman or LGBTQ+, try out alternative booking sites Femmebnb for woman-to-woman vacation rentals or MisterB&B for gay- and queer-friendly accommodation.

Street view from a MisterBnB rental in Viana do Castelo, Portugal
Street view from a MisterBnB rental in Viana do Castelo, Portugal (Image credit: Leon Kaye)

A community-based homestay in the Caucasus

Nazy’s Guest House is an “enchanting” family-run guest house offering homestays in the Pankisi Valley of northeastern Georgia, two hours from the capital, Tbilisi. The valley is the main home of the Kist community, descendants of Highland Chechens. Founded by Nazy Dakishvili, the guest house offers award-winning hospitality and connects visitors to the local community while educating them about Kist traditions, culture, and Georgian nature.

“In 2021 our business bounced back strongly after being virtually inactive throughout 2020 during the height of the COVID pandemic and subsequent major disruption caused due to international and domestic travel restrictions, [and] we anticipate a further increase in bookings this year,” Dakishvili told TriplePundit. “I believe sustainable rural tourism is finding greater appeal with many tourists visiting Georgia, and places like Pankisi Valley are becoming more and more popular for trekking, horse riding, mountain-biking and cultural experiences.”

Kazbegi, northern Georgia
Kazbegi, northern Georgia Image credit: (Mike Swigunski via Unsplash)

Handicrafts and bush nature in the Basecamp Maasai Mara

Basecamp Maasai Mara is a place to rest your head at the doorstep of the Mara National Reserve in Kenya, home to the highest density of wildlife in the world. The tourism company Basecamp Explorer supports Maasai women through its Basecamp Maasai Brand, “a community-based handicraft business with the goal of using traditional beading practices to help local Maasai women improve their financial independence.”

Women beaders receive 75 percent of the revenue that they earn while the remainder covers business costs. Basecamp stays are ideal for those who value nature, observable right outside your tent, and cultural understanding, thanks to the Maasai-run Enjoolata Awareness Center.

Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya (Image credit: Catherine Merlin via Unsplash)

Supporting an Africa where the future is female

Founded by four women entrepreneurs, Founded by Eyitemi Popo, Girls Trip Tours offers tours for women to Kenya, Ghana and other countries on the continent.

“Since I launched Girls Trip Tours in 2018, I have been pushing for slower tourism that’s sustainable and empowering to communities,” Popo explained to 3p. “If we have more time to spend in a country, how can we explore various parts of that place, instead of jet setting from destination to destination? How can we create a community there and financially empower the local women and girls in that community with our tourism spend?”

The group’s focus is on mentorship, through Girls MAP, a Mentorship and Advancement Program for teenagers. Every trip booked educates a girl for one school year, and all travelers are encouraged to give back through a knowledge or skill exchange. Participants have the chance to meet high-profile businesswomen, industry leaders and other African women.

A young woman in Accra, Ghana
A young woman in Accra, Ghana (Image credit: Ransford Quaye via Unsplash)

Trekking the Atlas Mountains and giving back in Morocco

Intrepid Travel’s trip to Morocco, from its range of Women’s Expeditions, offers a view of the country beyond its “exotic” stereotype. One option is to hike the Atlas Mountains with Morocco’s first female mountaineering guide, Hafida Hdoubane, who believes “women should talk to women, because we speak the same language.” The travel agency is the world’s largest travel B Corp.

“We’ve noticed a change in travel values in our guests over time,” said Matt Berna, Intrepid’s general manager in North America. “They want an authentic look into local life. They are curious about different cultures and traditions. They want a sustainable and unique travel experience that invests in local communities, and an experience of making genuine connections with people, making a positive influence, along the way.”

These Morocco trips help support Intrepid’s education initiatives, which provides access to education for girls in the remote villages of the High Atlas region. Intrepid also offsets carbon emissions from transport, accommodation and waste.

Two Moroccan women sharing a quiet moment in Meknes, Morocco
Two Moroccan women sharing a quiet moment in Meknes, Morocco (Image credit: Fabio Santaniello Bruun via Unsplash)

Experiencing a different side of cities in Colombia

“We like to go to places we feel are misunderstood by a global audience,” said Katalina Mayorga, the Colombian-born CEO and co-founder of El Camino Travel, a woman-owned travel company for women’s group trips. That’s why Mayorga has made a point to debunk myths about Colombia, which by most accounts is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet.

El Camino’s trip to Cartagena and Medellín is a firsthand experience of the country’s sensory beauty with a focus on economic equity. Participants have the chance to support entrepreneurs who seek to generate positive impact on society and help create stability that can lead to a lasting peace. According to Mayorga, the last six months have been El Camino’s most successful, thanks to a growing interest in small-group travel that connects women to each other and local experts after two years of isolation that resulted in many of us becoming even more disconnected from each other.

(Side note: While you’re there, consider a visit to Comuna 13, a community in Medellín that offers culturally inclusive tours that 3p editor Leon Kaye really enjoyed.)

One of countless murals in Comuna 13, Medellín, Colombia
One of countless murals in Comuna 13, Medellín, Colombia (Image credit: Leon Kaye)

Kayaking to your heart’s content in Canada

Though Wild Women Expeditions started out with all-female kayaking trips in Ontario in 1991, the agency now offers a variety of trips. If you don’t want to wander far from North America, this is the perfect trip that will help women travelers build community, get out in the great outdoors, and support a women-owned travel agency that’s been a long-term mainstay. Perhaps a kayaking tour in one of the many stunning waterways Canada has to offer?

Kayaking in Lake Louise, Banff National Park Alberta, Canada
Kayaking in Lake Louise, Banff National Park Alberta, Canada (Image credit: Atia Naim via Unsplash

Carving out an untraditional space for women in Pakistan

Mad Hatters co-owner Aneeqa Ali is one of the few female travel entrepreneurs in Pakistan. Ali, an avid biker, says she was inspired by her own domestic travels to launch the company: “[My travels] made me realize that Pakistan is a very difficult country to navigate as a woman,” she told 3p. Her agency now helps them do it.

Mad Hatters connects visitors with women tour guides and women-led homestays while creating new economic opportunities for rural communities. “In March 2020, we were all set for the coming years, with our event calendar locked in with tours booked in advance,” Ali told 3p. “Nobody in their wildest dreams had imagined that the world would come to a standstill like this. After a very long and painful wait, travel has finally started to open up again. We are hopeful that this trend [will] continue and travel will bounce back even better than before!”

The team is working to revamp the company’s site, and trips will become available soon.

Swat, Pakistan
Swat, Pakistan (Image credit: Zahra Tahir via Unsplash

The future of travel is female

Women make up the largest contingent of global travelers, and solo women travelers especially are booking tours at a higher rate than ever. But you don’t have to identify as a woman to support women-owned travel agencies and businesses!

Regardless of the trip or location you choose, try to consider your trip’s environmental impact and take community-driven tours with a focus on cultural inclusion whenever possible.

Image credit: Agnieszka Boeske via Unsplash