The Original Bad Ass Female Backpackers


I am inspired by anyone that travels. Anyone who makes the decision to leave their life back home for adventure and the unknown in exotic and far flung destinations immediately go up in my estimation.

Staying put, living the same day over and over again and never venturing out of your comfort zone is easily done. But who wants to live a life of ‘what ifs’, a life of mundane routines and to always wonder if you could have pushed yourself and your limits?

This doesn’t always mean to travel. Being brave and fearless could mean changing your job, moving to a different town or finally doing the thing that you’ve always wanted to but never dared. I think we should all make the effort to make 2016 the year of you. The year of saying yes and pushing yourself. What have you got to lose?

The reason for this hyper positive and motivated post (someone get me a mega phone over here already) is because I’ve been reading Women Travelers: A Century of Trailblazing Adventures. This coffee table book immediately called my name by the cover alone. A women riding a zebra. Life goals right there.

This heavy book is a collection of essays and photos from 1850 – 1950 showcasing the first and most fearless women who trekked in crinolines, went butterfly hunting in the Amazon, faced unimaginable dangers and risked being rejected by their loved ones back home in their pursuit for adventure.

Before 1850 women who travelled were seen as freaks as they refused to respect cultural and social conventions. It was scandalous to be an adventuress. Many had to hide their identity and even cross borders dressed as men in order to get to new places. Back then society encouraged the desires of men who wanted to see the world and conquer new lands but for women it was a case of succeed or die trying.

As the years went on there was a lot of debate over whether a woman can travel and still remain feminine. Would a lady walk barefoot through the jungle of Borneo, live off the beaten track with so called cannibals or conquer climbing mountains in strange lands?

These early female travelers were rebels with an insatiable appetite for discovery who were set on their own path to see more of life and new horizons. Some traveled for love, others for work and some just to prove that they could be an explorer as good as any man could. Serious girl power points.

‘I am so full of interest that one grudges being asleep,’ Isabella Bird, 19th century explorer and writer.

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Wearing heavy floor length dresses and carrying trunks filled with corsets and silk and even a rubber bathtub these women flew the suffragette flag on Himalayan peaks, battled disease and tortuous boat crossings to get to where they needed to go.

‘I had lived all these years and never known till now how beautiful was this earth,’ Margaret Fountaine, Victorian butterfly hunter.

It is impossible not to feel inspired reading these stories of courageous and fearless women living at a time when travel, especially solo female travel was so unheard of. We are so lucky to be alive today where we can hop from one country to the next in relative comfort and safety whilst keeping in touch with friends and family via WiFi. These early female travelers paved the way for it to be totally normal for women to follow their dreams and see the world. If that doesn’t make you feel all the feels then I don’t know what will.

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  • I loved reading about this, i can’t believe how brave they were to do it in their times! I will certainly be checking out this book! Thanks for sharing xxx

    Jesska – Opal Soul

    • Katy

      I know, right? Truly inspiring women that can teach us a lesson or too in being brave and being true to ourselves

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