Incredible Women Who Changed Travel: Part 2

Back by popular demand, here are five MORE women who rocked the travel world. Whether they had to disguise themselves as men, hang ads around their bodies, or dodge authorities, these women stopped at nothing to circumnavigate the globe. Hats off to them!

bougainville voyage

Jeanne Baret–Unfortunately, most of you probably don’t recognize her name. Jeanne was a talented botanist who met a French nobleman while they were both out picking plants. Because of her herbal savvy and charm, Jeanne chanced on the opportunity to make a life-changing journey when he hired her as his trusty aide and plant expert. Did I forget to mention that she cleverly disguised her female figure and dressed as a man during the 2+ year trek? In case you were wondering, she eventually got “found out,” but the verdict is still out on exactly how that happened. A plant,  Solanum baretiae, was named in honor of the explorer.

Gertrude Bell picnics in Iraq, 1922

Gertrude Bell–This English traveler and political figure drew the boundary lines of modern-day Iraq and traveled around the world TWICE. “No woman in recent time has combined her qualities – her taste for arduous and dangerous adventure with her scientific interest and knowledge, her competence in archaeology and art, her distinguished literary gift, her sympathy for all sorts and condition of men, her political insight and appreciation of human values, her masculine vigour, hard common sense and practical efficiency – all tempered by feminine charm and a most romantic spirit,” one of her colleagues raved. A talented linguist, she picked up Arabic, Persian, French, German, and Italian along the way.


Nellie Bly–She circumnavigated the world in just 72 days while also pioneering new fields of investigative journalism. Her journey was inspired by Jules Verne’s classic story, Around the World in 80 Days. The newspaper she worked for staged a Nelly Bly guessing game to gamble about her arrival time. The prize? An all-expenses-paid trip to Europe. We feel obligated to note that Nelly made most of this journey completely alone. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for her gutsiness in both global travel and the printed word.


Annie Londonderry
–Donning bloomers instead of a skirt and insisting that she “could do anything that any man could do,” Annie (Her real name was Annie Cohen Kopchovsky) circled the globe on a bike– even though she had technically never learned how to ride! As you’d probably guess, trekking the world is expensive, so Annie funded her trip by wearing advertisements on her back. Basically, she was one of the first female marketers. When can we sign up?


Laura Dekker–Just a few years ago, a 14-year-old sailor traveled around the world on a sailboat, becoming the youngest person to conquer the high seas. Laura received her first boat at the age of six after spending the first five years of her life exploring with her father. Because of her age, her voyages were rife with controversy: At one point, authorities placed her in a children’s home and demanded that her father fly her back, but neither of them let the naysayers stop her. As Laura commented in one interview, “They thought it was dangerous. Well, everywhere is dangerous. They don’t sail and they don’t know what boats are, and they are scared of them.”

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