Or, you know, change the world.
Women have been blazing trails in travel for generations. From intrepid explorers like Jeanne Baret, who became the first woman to circumnavigate the world in 1766, and had to disguise herself as a man to join the expedition; to Elizabeth Cochran Seaman, more widely known as Nelly Bly, the adventurous journalist who in 1889 bested Phileas Fogg by making a solo journey around the world in only 72 days; to fearless aviators like Bessie Coleman, Amelia Earhart, and Raymonde de Laroche, who became the first woman to receive a pilot’s license on Mar. 8, 1910.
Fast forward to 2019, and you’ll see a “new guard” of women game changers in travel, leading the charge in hotels, tourism, cruises, travel media, and even revolutionizing the way we think about luggage. They’re stepping into positions of influence previously held exclusively by men and starting businesses and founding movements that are changing the way we travel. World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) CEO Gloria Guevara Manzo, appointed in 2017 as the first woman to hold the role, says the industry’s current global playing field comes in pretty level, but not necessarily when it comes to leadership. “Travel and tourism employs around 313 million people and around 50 percent are women. There are a lot of women in government, in high leadership positions,” she said. “But we still have work to do in the private sector.”
Rosewood Hotels CEO Sonia Cheng agrees that there is plenty more work to be done to better satisfy the needs of women travelers, and has made it her personal mission. “I try to look at the changing lifestyles of our female generation today and respond thoughtfully with new service offerings and propositions that really do respond to our new priorities in our busy lives.” In addition to a rise in solo travel, she's seen a recent influx of women traveling together, which inspired her to launch the #RosewoodGirlfriends campaign last year, an initiative that celebrates lifelong female friendships and the ways in which they can be enriched by travel.
From diverse backgrounds, with unique life experiences, you’ll see these 21 women actually manage to have quite a lot in common. They are bold, funny, warm, intelligent, and adaptive. Each took a risk — both financial and personal — to get where they are, and found reward in the experience. They share the view that to travel is to dedicate oneself to growth and acknowledge the role their adventures have played in giving them the confidence and resourcefulness to thrive in the industry as they have. Many of them forged a career by discovering what was missing in their own travels and finding a way to fill those gaps. And, from the sound of it, they’re just getting started.