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Traveler's Edition
  •   6 min read

International Women’s Day honors women past, present and future for their fantastic achievements in various fields. Unfortunately, history is rather good at removing these trailblazing women from its history books in favour of their male counterparts.

We love shouting about and celebrating women’s achievements on any day of the year, but today we think it’s particularly apt to celebrate the women we admire and who have made a huge contribution to travel.

In honor of these amazing, strong-willed and progressive women, has rounded up 10 inspirational females who definitely know the meaning of ‘girl power’!

Jeanne Baré (1740-1807)

Nationality: French
Major achievement : First woman to circumnavigate the worldJeanne_Barre

Disguised as a man and under the name of “Jean Baré”, in 1766 Jeanne Baret (often called Baré) sailed off on an expedition around the world at a time when women were not allowed on French navy ships. Initially, she had decided to join the expedition to accompany her lover, named Commerson, who was also a botanist – and she was able to assist him during the trip. Their plan was discovered by the ship’s captain on the island of Tahiti in 1768, however they were allowed to continue on the expedition until reaching Mauritius. It was here that Commerson sadly died, and shortly after Baré married Jean Dubernat on the island. It was with him that she would return to France, thus completing her trip around the globe. The king Louis XVI himself recognized her valuable work as a botanist and granted her an annual income. 

Annie Smith-Peck (1850-1935)

Nationality: American
Major achievement : First person to climb Mount Nevado Huascarán in the AndesAnnie_Smith_Peck

Annie Smith-Peck started out as an archeology and Latin teacher; passionate about mountains and mountaineering, she gave up her job to pursue her passion. Dedicating herself to mountaineering, she often gave lectures about her travels and expeditions. In 1895, it was noticed that she wore trousers while out on expeditions – something which was very unusual at the time!

Even old age couldn’t stop her: at 84 years old, she was still up for new challenges and headed off on a tour of the world. Unfortunately, she became ill while climbing the Acropolis in Athens, and went back home to New York, where she died of bronchial pneumonia.

Nellie Bly (1864-1922)

Nationality : American
Major achievement : First woman to travel around the world in 72 daysNellie_Bly

Elizabeth Jane Cochrane, also called Nellie Bly, was an investigative journalist best known for her sensational exposé in which she went undercover to reveal the abuse going on at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

In 1988, inspired by the famous French novel “Around the World in Eighty Days”, she came up with the idea of turning the story into reality by traveling around the world in – you guessed it – 80 days. In 1889, she began the 24,899 mile long journey, traveling alone by steamship and rail for the majority of the way. 72 days after she departed on her mission, Bly returned to New York with a world record as the fastest person to travel around the world.


Annie “Londonderry” Cohen Kopchovsky (1870–1947)

Nationality : Latvian / American
Major achievement : First woman to circle the globe on a bicycleAnnie_Londonderry

Annie Cohen Kopchovsky had a true free spirit and was the embodiment of an independent woman. Having never ridden a bicycle before, Kopchovsky was nonetheless chosen to prove a wager made between two men that a woman could never cycle around the world in 15 months and earn $5,000.

Accepting a number of sponsorships in order to fund the journey, the Londonderry Lithia Water Company was one such sponsor – Kopchovsky agreed to go by the name Annie Londonderry throughout her tour of the world, with a sign advertising the company on her bike, in return for $100. The journey started in America and saw Annie travel through France, Egypt, Jerusalem, Singapore, Hong-Kong, China, before returning to the US with 14 days to spare. As part of the original terms of the wager, she was also awarded $10,000 for her achievments!


Freya Stark (1893-1993)

Nationality : British
Major achievement : First non-Arab to travel through western Iran, wrote over 20 books about her travelsFreya_Stark

Quote : “One can only really travel if one lets oneself go and takes what every place brings without trying to turn it into a healthy private pattern of one’s own, and I suppose that is the difference between travel and tourism.” – Freya Stark

Amelia Earhart (1897- disappeared 1937)

Nationality : American
Major achievement : First female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic OceanAmelia_Earhart

While working as a nurse and then a social worker, Amelia Earhart saved money to buy herself some flying lessons and, eventually, her own plane. She broke the record of highest altitude for a female aviator in 1922 with 4 300m height. After successfully flying over the Atlantic Ocean in 1932, become the first woman to do so solo and without making any stops along the way, Amelia attempted to fly aroudn the world in 1937. Unfortunately, her plane disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean – and has never been found to this day, opening the door for a number of theories as to what happened.

Rosie Swale-Pope (1946- )

Nationality : Swiss
Major achievement : Five year around-the-world run, raising $304,000 for charityRose-Swale-Pope

In 2003, at age 57, Rosie Swale-Pope started her charity run across the world, solo and with minimal equipment. She travelled 19,884 miles, departing from Wales and traveling across Russia, Canada, USA (where she took a “break”, running the Chicago marathon), and Iceland. She raised £250,000 ($304,000) for a Russian orphanage and raised awareness about prostate cancer, which sadly took her husband away a few years before.

Kay Cottee (1954- )

Nationality : Australian
Major achievement : First woman to sail solo, non-stop and without assistance, around the world (completing her journey in 189 days)Kay_Cottee

Sophia Danenberg (1972- )

Major achievement : First African American and first woman of black descent to climb Mount EverestSophia_Danenberg

Sophia Danenberg was introduced to mountaineering after college, and it soon became a passion. On May 19, 2006, despite bad weather and suffering from a number of illnesses brought on by the freezing conditions and high altitude, she reached the summit of Mount Everest at an altitude of 8 848m.

Laura Dekker (1995- )

Nationality : Dutch
Major achievement : Youngest person to sail around the world solo at age 16Laura_Dekker

Laura came from a family of sailing addicts: she was born in New-Zealand during a 7-year-long sailing trip! She started to sail alone at the age of 6, and soon began to attend competitive races. At 10 years old, she bought herself a 7-meter long boat with her savings. She started preparing her round-the-world sailing trip in 2009, but the Dutch government stepped in, placing her under the joint custody of both her parents and the Council for Child Care which refused to allow it. A court battle began and, almost a year later, any legal obstructions were removed – Laura was good to go!

She started her trip in August 2010, and successfully completed her solo circumnavigation in January 2012 – setting a world record in the process!

IMG:  Annie Londonderry , Rosie Swale-Pope , Kay Cottee , Sophia Danenberg , Wikimedia commons

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