Five Ways Women Can Make a Difference in 2024, According to Travel Leaders

by | Jan 23, 2024

Two women stop to take a photo while on a hiking trip. Traveling more sustainably is one way women can make a difference in travel.
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Last updated on January 24th, 2024

Featured image: Our travel partners share ways women can make a difference while traveling in 2024| Photo by micens on Envato

Creating more diverse, sustainable and meaningful travel experiences

by Carolyn Ray

The need for change is all around us. As we consider new places and new adventures in 2024, there’s no time like the present to consider how women can make a difference through travel.

As part of our ongoing series on women creating change, we invited five leaders from our Women’s Travel Directory to share their advice on what women can do to make a difference through travel, and show how they are doing this in their own businesses.  It’s clear that creating more diverse, sustainable and meaningful travel experiences are top business priorities for these women leaders in 2024. In fact, our latest survey results show that women-led travel businesses support other women-owned businesses, hire women in their own companies, choose female guides or porters and donate funds to causes that support women. When it comes to sustainability, our partners reported that they choose locally owned hotels and small, local businesses. The majority of respondents (84%) offer vegetarian meal choices, 58% have removed plastic bags or bottles, and 53% support environmental NGOs. Other activities to improve sustainability include incorporating longer stays, reducing buffets and branded swag, and changing itineraries to include train and public transit.

Thank you to the leaders of TTC Tours, the Cultural Heritage Alliance for Tourism (CHAT), AdventureWomen, Wanderlust Solo Women Travel and Advivum Journeys for sharing their wisdom on what can change, and we, as women, can do to accelerate it.

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Five things that women can do to create change in the travel industry

1. What women can do: Practice sustinability by spreading your travels year-round

Melissa DaSilva, President, North America, TTC Tours, which includes Insight Vaacations and Trafalgar Tours

For over 15 years, The Travel Corporation has been committed to ensuring it has a positive impact on the people and places through sustainability initiatives backed by its non-profit organization, the Treadright Foundation.  At least one MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® experience is included in every itinerary, which is aimed to give back to the people, planet or wildlife in the destination, and are overwhelmingly locally owned, often by women and/or increasingly by Indigenous families.

The summer of 2023 was a disappointment to me,” says DaSilva. “Truthfully, I haven’t seen the changes people vowed to make during the pandemic at all. The masses returned to their old ways the moment the borders opened – gateway cities were heaving with tourists in the peak seasons while hotels and airlines gouged them with prices never before seen. Locals, who desperately needed the tourism income while in lockdown, now bemoaned the lack of dollars actually spent locally and the crush of foreigners had a complete disregard for their home while in pursuit of the perfect Instagram shot.”

DaSilva hopes that in 2024, women will find ways to spread their travels year-round, to travel more slowly, ensure our dollars stay in the place we are visiting, and to go beyond the major gateways to the smaller towns and villages to get a better feel for the traditions and culture of the destination.

In  2024, TTC has committed to not add any capacity to summer departures in Europe, so as not to add to the issue of over tourism.  The company will also encourage those who can, to travel off peak and beyond Europe.

“As the first in the travel industry to make this commitment, it is our hope that other travel companies follow in our footsteps in the ongoing journey towards a more sustainable future,” DaSilva says.

In addition, TTC eliminated all branded merchandise as of December 1, 2023, and is repurposing those funds to projects that fight climate change on behalf of our guests, partners and internal team members. This will prevent the equivalent carbon emissions of 6.5 million car-driven miles from entering the atmosphere annually.

“It’s critical to us to have the local communities tell their own stories, and in their voices, from their perspective, because learning about new cultures is what makes travel so special. This helps make travel more sustainable.” — Melissa DaSilva, President, North America, TTC Tours

Petra, the UNESCO world heritage city in Jordan

DaSilva’s desetination for 2024 is Jordan, which needs tourism dollars to recover from the war in Israel and Gaza

where to stay

#2. What women can do: Change your mindset about small BIPOC businesses

Stephanie Jones, CEO, Cultural Heritage Alliance for Tourism

Stephanie Jones has always dreamed of making a big impact on the world and disrupting the status quo.

An accomplished social serial entrepreneur for the past 30 years and a leading global travel + tourism change agent, she has been disrupting the industry through several sustainable tourism initiatives such as Blacks in Travel & Tourism, Future of Black Tourism, and the Diversity Tourism Academy. As an advocate, she represents and creates equitable opportunities for underrepresented small BIPOC businesses and underserved communities to actively participate and profit in the global travel & tourism industry.

“There are several things I’d like to see change in the travel and tourism industry,” Jones says. “First, the mindset among traditional industry leaders that this industry should only cater to the economic interest and profitability of global brands, destinations and suppliers that can afford to “pay to play” must change. This mindset has proven to be non-inclusive of small-scale, BIPOC tourism businesses from underrepresented communities as they have traditionally been priced out of accessing key industry events and global opportunities to support sustainability, scalability and profitability.”

Jones also says the perception among destination marketing organizations that small BIPOC businesses do not provide value to travelers is misinformed. This lack of inclusion and amplification in marketing efforts has resulted in the inbound traveler’s lack of awareness of diverse tour products that provide rich cultural heritage experiences, and very limited economic benefits driven through tourism to spur business growth for small suppliers in off-the-beaten-path communities.

“For the past ten (10) years, my work through the Cultural Heritage Alliance for Tourism and Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance has been on the forefront of leveling the playing field and creating equitable opportunities for underserved small BIPOC businesses to actively participate and profit in their local tourism ecosystems and the global travel & tourism industry,” Jones says.

“Systemic change in our industry must be intentional and consistent in order to level the playing field and create access to equitable opportunities for small-scale businesses from underserved communities to actively participate and thrive in travel and tourism.” — Stephanie Jones, CEO, Cultural Heritage Alliance for Tourism

#3. What women can do: Seek diverse and inclusive opportunities

Paige Davis, President, AdventureWomen

AdventureWomen is a women-owned and women-run company founded in 1982 and now owned by Judi Wineland and her two daughters, Nicole and Erica. The company offers more than 50 exciting trips to 65 countries worldwide, combining classic destinations, off-the-beaten-path adventures, and closer-to-home escapes.

According to Paige Davis, President, of AdventureWomen, one of her key goals is to provide diverse and inclusive opportunities for all of her guests — which is often overlooked in the travel industry. Davis says that travel serves as a unique arena where the playing field is levelled — where each individual encounters something new for the first time and steps a bit outside their comfort zone. Investing in the needs and interests of all travellers helps AdventureWomen ensure that everyone feels welcome and supported.

“AdventureWomen is dedicated to recognizing the transformative impact diversity and inclusion can have on group travel,” Davis says. “As a company deeply committed to fostering meaningful connections, it is critical to our mission to unite travellers from various backgrounds, abilities, and perspectives. We are actively enhancing our own internal training programs to heighten awareness and understanding of the diverse needs of all travellers.”

What action are you taking in your business to make this happen?

To increase diversity and inclusion in travel, AdventureWomen is creating more trips and activities that cater to a wide range of interests and abilities, as well as broadening the locations of where those experiences take place.

AdventureWomen is offering more than one trip in a given location, such as our challenging “Lodge-to-Lodge Trek to Machu Picchu” and the more relaxed “Discover Machu Picchu and the Amazon” (coming back in 2025). There are also experiences around the world from Cuba to Croatia and from Botswana to Big Bend.

“We listen very closely to what our customers tell us through frequent feedback surveys and phone calls,” Davis says. “As we grow as a business, we are focusing our growth not only on what we know works well but on what we hope will diversify our audience.”

Partnering with local women in the communities they visit is also a key piece of AdventureWoman’s planning. This allows guests to have more inclusive and meaningful experiences while also greatly supporting local economies.

“Through these women-to-women cultural exchanges our guests have the opportunity to see the world through her eyes,” Davis says. “Whether it’s meeting artisans in Thailand, apprentice geishas in Japan, or Maasai women in Tanzania, we find our hearts and aspirations are very much alike.”

“When we prioritize diversity, we enhance the richness of those experiences and broaden our world views.”
— Paige Davis, President, AdventureWomen

A guest snorkeling-away with fins pushing through the waters of Baja, Mexico

Davis’ top pick for 2024 is Baja, Mexico, home to Espiritu Santo National Park in the Sea of Cortez, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best marine life viewing destinations in the world. Learn more here.

#4. What women can do: View travel not just as a leisure activity but as a wellness tool

Gina Cambridge, President,  Wanderlust Solo Women Tours

Based in New Zealand, Gina Cambridge is a Retreat & Travel Experience Facilitator, Founder of Wanderlust Solo Women Tours & Purposeful Travel Coach at Wanderlust Travel Coaching, specializing in solo female travel.

According to Cambridge, Wanderlust Solo Women Tours actively contributes to the promotion of conscious and purposeful travel among women, and supports locally owned and operated businesses with a sustainable ethos and a particular focus on empowering women-owned enterprises. Cambridge sees a growing emphasis on immersive and meaningful experiences, coupled with a deeper connection to the destinations visited.

“In the post-pandemic era, I have personally observed an even more positive shift in the way women approach and experience travel,” Cambridge says. “With women embracing the possibilities travel can bring in positively impacting their lives and it facilitating a gateway to rediscover themselves. It’s important that we view travel not just as a leisure activity but as a wellness tool, seek to rejuvenate their minds and bodies through intentional, conscious, and purposeful exploration.”

Cambridge focuses on fostering economic growth within the local communities the company visits, and gives back to communities by making dontions to local non-profits. She also supports smaller, locally owned tour and accommodation providers that offer genuine and authentic experiences.

“Through pre-trip travel coaching and on my travel experiences I educate my guests on sustainable practices, sharing more authentic, genuine travel activities and providing helpful tips to ensure they engage in conscious travel throughout their journeys, which embraces their travel dreams but also is respectful of the culture and customs of the destinations we travel to.”

“It’s heartwarming to see women viewing travel not just as a leisure activity but as a wellness tool, seeking to rejuvenate their minds and bodies through intentional, conscious, and purposeful exploration. This shift aligns with the need for a more sustainable and responsible approach to tourism, which is a growing and positive trend worldwide.” — Gina Cambridge, CEO, Wanderlust Solo Women Tours 

Two Cuban women wearing traditional bright coloured dresses

Cambridge’s less-travelled and sustainable choice for 2024 is Cuba, a destination she says deserves more attention from women travellers. In addition, Cuba is known to be safe for solo female travellers, providing a welcoming and secure environment. / Photo provided by Photo by Wanderlust Solo Women Travel

#5. What women can do:  Find your best selves

Tania Carriere, Founder, Advivum Journeys

Advivum Journeys, created 20 years ago by Epiphany designer and CEO Tania Carriere, blends destination travel with experiential learning and personal well-being to help women be their best selves.

“Our retreats are so intricately designed, they’re genuinely transformational,” says Carriere, who has turned sightseeing into epiphany-gathering. “Midlife is the time to re-imagine, re-vitalize and celebrate. Retreats are a way to discover yourself and the world in the company of community that shares your sense of adventure and curiosity.”

“The most exciting change I see happening in travel is the way it is welcoming the midlife, solo woman traveller,” she says. “Finally, women are putting their travel needs first and as I result I see more and more retreats being tailored to the adventures and the conversations that they want to have.”

“The transformative power of travel should mean that if you have curated your journey well the new discoveries that you have made about yourself will be a part of the new you that returns home,” she says. “Gone are the days where just looking at something is enough. Now we use travel to build community and connection with others and within ourselves. As we explore we learn tolerance, change and resilience and this delights me as I think that this is the way we will create an appreciation for diversity and an ability to weave together many different narratives.”

She continues: “The number of women who are making travel and community a priority has skyrocketed. I am seeing women grab their passports and refuse the old stories of being too old, scared, lost or alone.  They are finding their power and their voice while travelling solo – especially to retreats where there are like-minded women doing the same. On retreat, they make friendships and connections that fill the void that many of us have been left with. They also re-engage in the joy of discovery and learning all while having a blast.”

“The transformative power of travel should mean that if you have curated your journey well the new discoveries that you have made about yourself will be a part of the new you that returns home,”” she says. “Gone are the days were just looking at something is enough. Now we use travel to build community and connection with others and within ourselves.” — Tania Carriere, CEO, Advivum Journeys

A women holds a bunch of grapes in a vineyard in Provence, France

Advivum’s Joie de Vivre retreat in Provence in May 2024 is designed to help guests explore their definition of happiness, but also to give themselves permission to claim it as a new baseline for everyday living / Photo by Advivum Journeys

More on Women in Travel

As the CEO and Editor of JourneyWoman, Carolyn is a passionate advocate for women's travel and living the life of your dreams. She leads JourneyWoman's team of writers and chairs the JourneyWoman Women's Advisory Council and Women's Speaker's Bureau. She has been featured in the New York Times, Toronto Star and Zoomer as a solo travel expert, and speaks at women's travel conferences around the world. In March 2023, she was named one of the most influential women in travel by TravelPulse and was the recipient of a SATW travel writing award in September 2023. She is the chair of the Canadian chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), a member Women's Travel Leaders and a Herald for the Transformational Travel Council (TTC). Sometimes she sleeps. A bit.


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