March 8th marks International Women's Day. It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity and, in 2017, we are being asked to support the #BeBoldForChange campaign. 

To mark this global celebration, and with the theme of travel strongly on our agenda, we thought we'd ask a few women about their experiences of travelling solo and what led them to head off alone.

We start with Aysha's story...

"I went to the States to celebrate my 40th birthday. I knew it would be expensive and a lot to ask of my friends, so I decided to go alone. I had an amazing time, met wonderful people along the way and visited some truly memorable sights. I did join a group tour as part of my adventure, but I did have a week alone too. I arranged my own accommodation in New York, as I had been before and felt safe - I also knew I could navigate my way around fairly easily. I was out alone in New York, LA and San Francisco at night and I felt safe at all times. I had the best holiday - organised by you ;) and although it was a bit boring eating alone at times, the good times far outweighed that."

Marisa's Story...

"I took myself off on a couple of work trips to Washington, LA & New York and managed to add free time to each of them. I never had any issues with my accommodation and used public transport throughout. I have to say that I felt so safe in Washington and ended up walking everywhere! I loved every single museum and relished the independence to plan each day for myself. I never would have thought to take myself on a private leisure trip without the business making it happen!"

Karen's Story...

"My job involves a huge amount of travel - I've been to the middle of Mexico, India, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, China, all over the US and Europe. I've met many people along the way and eaten a lot of strange things...including donkey! I surprised a Japanese family who were brushing their teeth in the street with their neighbours as I tried to run in high humidity - they thought I was mad! I've seen great poverty alongside luxury and I've also seen how different life is for women in the countries I have visited, from the untouchable women in India sweeping floors and being ignored, to the Chinese women choosing their career over family."

Kirsty's Story...

"After a relationship breakdown I realised that I didn't fancy being in the country for Christmas. I decided to head to Wengen in Switzerland as I had been there as a teenager (I was the England Junior School girl champion and had represented England as part of the England Junior Ski Team) and always felt it would be a magical place to spend Christmas; there were no cars, just horse and sleighs! I went with Club Med so there was entertainment if I wanted it. A family I met there took me under their wing and always saved me a table at meal times, and even on Christmas Day they took me on a trip to a neighbouring resort and had lunch in a revolving restaurant which featured in a James Bond film, and from where you could see mountain peaks and look out over four or five countries. I never felt alone and always had my independence or company whenever I wanted it."

Helen's Story...

"Back a million years ago, before I started a family (and, as my sister would say, "when I was interesting"), I studied photography as a mature student. Some of the best unpaid and for-the-hell-of-it assignments I did one year was sailing with tall ships. I'd join the ship with regular and volunteer crew to take pictures of the trip in return for bunk and food. I had to (literally) learn the ropes too, so I could get aloft and get the best access to interesting shots of the ship and crew at work. My first trip with them was sailing in the Med - balmy beaches and swimming in the sea was an obvious bonus. I knew I had to go back for more. The crew were usually mixed ages but mainly men, and mostly with long and lengthy careers in boats of some description; really interesting people.  I joined a ship in Dublin later that year, sailing round to the Solent to take part in the Trafalgar 200 celebration. We led a tall ship sail past the Queen amongst ships and submarines from navies all over the world, and I had a supreme view high up on the yards. We also took part in the Trafalgar re-enactment, fireworks firing direct from the decks just feet away, noise, light, ships everywhere and thousands of people watching from the shore. It's such trips that forge friendships, close-proximity high drama and an utter reliance on each other. I was all set to sign up for sailing more permanently and get stuck into travel photography, when I met my childhood sweetheart again and we eventually started a family. The call of the sea never leaves though - one day." 

 

**This blog post was previously published on Medway Leisure Travel, now trading as Pettitts Travel**