Our culture offers many ideas about what women can do and should have. These unwritten messages reach into all parts of life — including travel. They whisper, “backpack Europe before you graduate college” and “make sure you land the right job so you can vacation often or work overseas.”
The media tempts us to think that the best honeymoons happen in glass bottom huts in Bora Bora and that to be good parents we need to expose our children to European cities and the Hawaiian Islands, respectively. All of these messages subtly imply that travel is all about leisure and extravagance.
Some of us will have amazing opportunities and others won’t. For those who don’t, our travel goals should not be reduced to family reunions and spring breaks on the beach. In the event that you are discouraged about your travel prospects, here are a six goals that every woman should aim for:
1. Get a passport; have it stamped.
This can be accomplished easily with a family vacation or a semester abroad or at sea. The location isn’t important; it’s about starting. According to the U.S. State Department, less than half of Americans hold a passport, which is a sad statistic. For a minimal investment, you can have a ticket to explore the world and obtain an education in international relations and communication.
The location isn’t important; it’s about starting.
2. Move away from your hometown.
Even if you love the urban vibe, or small-town feel, or your goal it to raise a family and grow old there, choose something different for a season. It can be as simple as relocating from the country into the city, going to college out of state, or applying for a job in another town (or country!). Move with the intention to explore and stretch yourself; you can always go back to what’s familiar later.
3. Road trip for at least 1,000 miles.
Driving twenty miles from your home to the beach doesn’t count as a road trip. Buy an atlas and chart your course. Don’t plan so much that you can’t stop to hike the trail to the waterfall or venture into the quirky town and eat at the hole-in-the-wall diner. Whether you camp, glamp, couch surf, or Airbnb, gather your closest (and most adventurous) friends, create a playlist, and hit the road. Memories and stories will quickly ensue.
4. Visit a National Park/Monument.
The world is teeming with remarkable cities and there’s no shortage of exciting things to do and delicious food to eat in each one. There are, however, equally as many beautiful, and serene, places in nature worth exploring as well. Search the list of National Parks and Monuments, get outside and enjoy. Instagram your heart out, but take the time to stand in awe of the grandeur that exists in your country.
5. Travel with a goal of giving back.
There is no greater way to discover who you are and what you believe than to spend time serving others. Yes, it is possible to get away from the resort while on vacation. But that type of excursion will not grow you like a trip designed to intentionally be poured out. Help build a school for orphans, feed the poor, or dig wells. Discover what you’re passionate about, and determine to spend some vacation days making a difference.
6. Live in another country.
This isn’t meant as a dare to live in a war-torn region. It’s a challenge to be immersed in another culture. It doesn’t have to be forever, but it should be long enough for you to call the new place, “home.” Study abroad, take an internship or spend a summer teaching English. Learning to navigate a foreign place (with or without language barriers, or cultural and religious customs) will give you a crash course in adaptability and diplomacy.
Learning to navigate a foreign place … will give you a crash course in adaptability and diplomacy.
May we be women compelled by wonder and exploration, instead of being face-down in our phones full of images to edit, post and Snap about. Rather than fixating over the “once-in-a-lifetime” trip, perhaps we could commit to a lifetime of travel, with as much excitement about the transatlantic flight as the road trip over the state line. Let’s let our adventures and stories inspire others to view travel as a way to learn from and serve others instead of solely consume.
Travel should never be exclusively defined as a way to escape the stresses of life. Taking time for rest and rejuvenation is important, but excursions aren’t limited to luxury and leisure. Travel is about experiences that transform us when we are fully immersed in them.
What travel goals do you have for yourself?
Images via Anna Delores; Feature Image via Grace Rivera