5 Inspirational Backpacking Women (and What You Can Learn From Them)

The urge to see the world has never been exclusive to the male gender. Everyone, at some point in their life, has had the desire to strap on a pack and leave home with nothing but what they could carry, living free on the road to anywhere. It is an idea that is not native to any one culture and that is why those who undertake such a trek are bound to find travelers from all corners of the globe wherever they happen to land. So if you think that just because you’re a woman it will be more difficult to make that leap beyond the horizon, think again. There are plenty of women who have done it before you that can act as a guiding light and offer some helpful hints.

Backpacker in Cairns

Backpacker in Cairns by jcoterhals

Elizabeth Gilbert

The now famous writer of Eat, Pray, Love was once no more than a lone woman on a quest to see the world and find herself along the way. And anyone who has gone on an extended journey, whether it’s a solo expedition or alongside a band of merry friends, can take heart from her tale of letting go of long-held inhibitions and learning to accept ourselves and the world we live in.

Isabella Bird

Although her lifetime is far removed from our own (she roamed the Earth during the Victorian era), she bucked tradition and traveled the world, visiting China, Japan, Korea, Tibet, and Africa, in addition to the United States. For a woman raised with money, life on the road was no easy feat. As her travel writings attests, she rode horses, ate local foods, and slept at “flea-ridden inns”. And despite ongoing health issues, she continued to express her love of the outdoors through travel until the day she died.

Mary Seacole

As a colored woman traveling in the 19th century, she exhibited exceptional perseverance despite frequent run-ins with racists. However, her writings espouse a love of travel too fierce to be tamed and in her own words she harbored a “…longing to travel which will never leave me while I have health and vigor”. That pretty much says it all.

Marybeth Bond

This modern-day backpacker has done it all, and with a variety of self- and machine-powered locomotion, for her job as a travel expert for major news organizations like CBS, NBC, and CNN. With trips to 70 countries under her belt, you might think she travels in style, but her adventures have occurred on foot, by cycle, in kayaks, and through just about any mode of transportation you can name. But beyond her penchant for DIY travel, she is a strong advocate for female awareness and safety while abroad.

Stephanie Elizondo Griest

This writer of travel books is best known for 100 Places Every Woman Should Go, a travelogue that aimed to find places of significance to women as well as the sacred feminine wherever she was. Not only that, her book offers opportunities to volunteer and donate to local charitable community organizations at various locales. She is not only an inspiration to female travelers, but to people everywhere who strive to embrace a global community.

18 Comments

  1. Andi Perullo on August 27, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Awesome post, so inspirational!!!

  2. Andi Perullo on August 27, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Awesome post, so inspirational!!!

  3. Stacy on August 27, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Great examples! As much well-intentioned discouragement as female travelers get from loved ones, it’s nice to get some affirmation for once. Thanks a million!

  4. Stacy on August 27, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Great examples! As much well-intentioned discouragement as female travelers get from loved ones, it’s nice to get some affirmation for once. Thanks a million!

  5. Ayngelina on August 27, 2010 at 8:29 am

    It’s nice to see such a varied list.

  6. Ayngelina on August 27, 2010 at 9:29 am

    It’s nice to see such a varied list.

  7. Marina K. Villatoro on August 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    I wouldn’t say I’m a backpacker but I do love to travel and to learn about these women is very inspiring.

  8. Marina K. Villatoro on August 27, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    I wouldn’t say I’m a backpacker but I do love to travel and to learn about these women is very inspiring.

  9. Alice on August 28, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Wonderful list!
    Women should draw inspiration from these adventuresses!

  10. Alice on August 28, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Wonderful list!
    Women should draw inspiration from these adventuresses!

  11. Dave and Deb on August 28, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Alright, now I have my book selection for my next travels! Thanks.

  12. Dave and Deb on August 28, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Alright, now I have my book selection for my next travels! Thanks.

  13. Tanya C on August 31, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    These women are all very inspirational. I’m a female backpacker myself and let me tell you that once you start traveling, you won’t be able to stop! You learn about yourself and set your own priorities in life. You don’t let others decide what you should do. It’s a great feeling.

  14. Tanya C on August 31, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    These women are all very inspirational. I’m a female backpacker myself and let me tell you that once you start traveling, you won’t be able to stop! You learn about yourself and set your own priorities in life. You don’t let others decide what you should do. It’s a great feeling.

  15. Kristina on May 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I am inspired! I am not an avid backpacker, yet but aim to be. Wonderful woman to look up to!

  16. Kristina on May 7, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    I am inspired! I am not an avid backpacker, yet but aim to be. Wonderful woman to look up to!

  17. Willow Martin on February 6, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Thank you for your list. As a woman who will soon be traveling, I need all the inspiration I can get. I do have a question though. You described Mary Seacole as a “colored” woman? What color was she? Orange? Black? Red? I’m asking because I don’t know any race that appreciates being called “colored” but maybe there’s one I don’t know about. It would be like calling a Caucasian person “bleached.”

  18. Willow Martin on February 6, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Thank you for your list. As a woman who will soon be traveling, I need all the inspiration I can get. I do have a question though. You described Mary Seacole as a “colored” woman? What color was she? Orange? Black? Red? I’m asking because I don’t know any race that appreciates being called “colored” but maybe there’s one I don’t know about. It would be like calling a Caucasian person “bleached.”

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