What a long, strange trip it’s been…
Over the past year, we’ve researched and compiled a list of the most inspiring women travelers on the planet.
And what a collection it is!
From the youngest woman to sail around the world (at 16!) to a woman who ran 20,000 miles, you’ll meet 125 women who have shattered stereotypes and raised the bar for future generations of female travelers.
What You’ll Get
This list features 125 inspiring women travelers in the following categories:
- Early Explorers
- Land Explorers
- Road Warriors
- Space Explorers
- Water Explorers
Let’s get started…
Inspiring Women: Advocates
Amy Lehman is the founder of the Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic. The organization provides health care for millions who live in the isolated region of Lake Tanganyika/Great Lakes in Central Africa; it also provides training for local health care workers.
Ann Cotton founded The Campaign for Female Education has helped almost two million children earn an education around the globe. But that’s not all: it’s also helped over 7,000 young women get business training to them start their own businesses.
Image Credit: Global X
Catherine Hamlin is an obstetrician and gynecologist who co-founded the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia. The hospital is the only medical center in the world to provide free obstetric fistula repair surgery to women with childbirth injuries. Hamlin is considered a pioneer and world authority on obstetric fistula treatment.
Image Credit: Samuel M. Gebru
Cherie Blair has been involved with multiple charities throughout her lifetime, including Breast Cancer Care, Jospice, and the UK branch of Child in Need India.
In 2008, she founded The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women to help women in developing markets build small businesses so they can contribute to their economies and have stronger voices in society.
Image Credit: MEDEF
Dame Jane Morris Goodall
Dame Jane Goodall is a British Primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, environmental campaigner and UN Messenger of Peace – but she’s most well known for her revolutionary research and work with the chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania.
As the first Resident Entrepreneur at the United Nations Foundation, Elizabeth Gore builds global partnerships and marketing strategies that support humanitarian issues of the United Nations. She also manages partnerships with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Fortune 100 companies.
Katey Walter Anthony
Katey Walter Anthony, an aquatic ecologist and biogeochemist, was lead researcher on an Arctic project that quantified the release of methane gas from melting permafrost. Her research helps us understand the effects of global warming.
Image Credit: Katey Walter
Molly Melching founded Tostan in 1991 to help to create sustainable development and positive social change in communities throughout Djibouti, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Somalia, and The Gambia. Her organization is most well known for their efforts to end female genital mutilation and forced/child marriages.
Image Credit:DFID – UK Department for International Development
Marguerite Harrison, Blair Niles, Gertrude Shelby, and Gertrude Emersen Sen
In 1925, these four exceptional women explorers founded the Society of Women Geographers (SWG) - the first women’s organization to share experiences and knowledge derived from field work, geographical exploration and research.
Today, the non-profit has over 500 members around the world and serves to help women network while encouraging education and research in travel, geography, arts and sciences.
Image Credit: Society of Women Geographers
As one of the few women in Afghanistan fortunate enough to receive an education, Noorjahan Akbar is dedicated to promoting education in her home country while still finishing her college degree in the US. She created Young Women for Change, an organization for the empowerment of Afghan women. Noorjahan has also helped create a book and CD of children’s songs – called the Afghan Children’s Songbook - to promote folkloric music and child literacy.
Rebecca Adamson, a Cherokee economist, is the founder of First Nations Development Institute and First Peoples Worldwide. Her organizations help American Indians and indigenous peoples worldwide become self-determinate and economically independent.
After founding Mountain2Mountain to aid women in conflict zones, Shannon Galpin noticed that she was the only open female cyclist in Afghanistan, where bicycling is considered taboo. Galpin has organized the donation of equipment, tools, shoes, and non-offensive jerseys for the national cycling teams to help promote women’s cycling. Read Shannon Galpins’s interview on Trekity.
After being orphaned by the Khmer Rouge and becoming a child slave, Somaly Mam was forced into prostitution and to marry a stranger. With the help of a French aid worker, she was able to escape and begin a new life.
Mam later returned to Cambodia and founded AFESIP, an organization that rescues, houses, and rehabilitates women and children in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia who have been sexually exploited. She also co-founded the Somaly Mam Foundation, which supports anti-trafficking groups and helps those forced into sexual slavery.
Image Credit: cambodia4kidsorg
Vandana Shiva is a philosopher, environmental activist, and author. Her first book Staying Alive (1988) redefined perceptions of third world women.
Shiva helped develop Navdanya that protects the biological and cultural diversity of India. As a leader and board member of the International Forum on Globalization, she is a strong woman’s voice for supporting global cooperation and interaction, while fighting the negative effects of economic globalization.
Wangari Muta Maathai was a Kenyan environmental and political activist AND the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.”
Zainab Salbi is the founder of Women for Women International - a non-profit organization that helps female victims of war, civil strife and conflict get back to self-sufficiency.
Salbi is the author of the national bestseller Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam and The Other Side of War: Women’s Stories of Survival and Hope.
Inspiring Women: Aviators
Amelia Mary Earhart
Amelia Earhart was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, a feat which earned her a U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross. She formed The Ninety-Nines – an organization of women pilots that advances aviation through education, scholarships, and mutual support. In 1937, Earhart attempted to circumnavigate the globe, but her aircraft disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island.
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” – Amelia Earhart
Amy Johnson was a famous English pilot who pioneered the way for women aviators. In 1930, she became the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia and continued to crush long-distance aviation records, including flying from London to Moscow in 21 hours.
Johnson flew in World War II with the Air Transport Auxiliary and died in 1941 after flying in bad weather.
The British-born Beryl Markham moved to Kenya when she was four and later became a pioneering pilot. In 1936, she was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic departing from England and crash landing on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. But she still broke the record!
Markham chronicled her adventures in West with the Night (1942).
CarolAnn Garratt and Carol Foy
CarolAnn Garratt and Carol Foy broke the world record for fastest flight around the world in a single engine plane… eight days to be exact. The flight was called Dash for a Cure to help raise money for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Read CarolAnn Garratt’s interview on Trekity.
Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock
Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock is the first woman to pilot an aircraft around the world in her Cessna 180 high-wing utility aircraft was named “The Spirit of Columbus.”
Her journey started on March 19, 1964 and took 29 days, 11 hours, and 59 minutes and included 21 stops along the way. She arrived back safely in Columbus, Ohio on April 17, 1964.
Mock chronicled her solo flight in Three Eight Charlie and was awarded the Louis Blériot medal from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.
Harriet Quimby was the first woman in the United States and second woman in the world to obtain a pilot’s licence in 1911 AND the first woman to pilot her own plane across the English Channel.
Quimby was a talented journalist and photographer who documented her world travels.
In 2000, Jennifer Murray circumnavigated the world, solo in a Robinson R44 helicopter, which earned her a Guinness World Record title. She flew 36,000 miles over 30 countries in 99 days during her journey and was 60 years old.
Inspiring Women: Authors
As a motorcyclist, mountain biker, travel writer and co-founder of Self-Publishing Boot Camp, Carla King has not only done it all but written extensively about her experiences.
Cheryl Strayed is the author of the Oprah’s Book Club hit Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail – a tail about a young woman pulling her life back together while solo hiking the 1,100 mile journey.
Avid traveler and American writer Edith Wharton was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for literature (1921) for writing The Age of Innocence.
Elizabeth Gilbert is an American author best known for her 2006 memoirs, Eat, Pray, Love which chronicled her solo journey to Italy, India and Bali looking for peace after a difficult divorce.
Elizabeth Jane Cochrane
Better known by her pen name Nellie Bly, Elizabeth Cochrane was one of the first female reporters. She went undercover in an insane asylum to report on conditions of brutality and neglect there. She also undertook a journey around the world, going through England, France, Colombo, Singapore, and Hong Kong in her record-breaking 72 day journey.
Best-selling author of Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes was also the editor of the 2002 Best American Travel Writing, A Year in the World: Journeys of A Passionate Traveller, as well as numerous books of poetry, a cookbook, and photo-texts. She is also a founder of The Tuscan Sun Festival in Cortona, Italy.
Dame Freya Stark
Dame Freya Stark was an explorer and travel writer who documented her travels in the Middle East and Afghanistan – she was also the first Westerner to journey through many regions.
Jane Addams achieved worldwide recognition as a feminist, pioneer in American social work and internationalist. She helped found settlement houses in Chicago, authored the books Newer Ideals of Peace and Peace and Bread in Time of War, and spoke out against America’s entry into war. In 1931 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Image Credit:Children’s Bureau Centennial
Karen von Blixen-Finecke
Karen von Blixen-Finecke (also known by her pen name Isak Dinesen) was a Danish author best known for her nonfiction book Out of Africa based on her experiences living in Kenya. The book was adapted into an Academy Award-winning motion picture played by Meryl Streep.
Kira Salek is a freelance writer for National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic and other travel magazines. She is known for going to war zones, and is the first woman to have crossed Papua New Guinea. Kira received the PEN Award for journalism for her reports on war in the Congo. Salek is the author of Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea, The White Mary, and Cruelest Journey: Six Hundred Miles to Timbuktu.
Laurie Gough is a regular contributor to The Globe and Mail and has also contributed to The LA Times and The National Post. She is the author of Kite Strings of the Southern Cross: A Woman’s Travel Odyssey (which won the silver medal for ForeWord Magazine’s Travel Book of the Year in the US) and Kiss the Sunset Pig.
Image Credit: Lauriegough
Margaret Mead was an American cultural anthropologist, who frequently wrote about her insights into modern American and Western culture, specifically about the attitudes towards sex in South Pacific and South East Asia.
Image Credit: Smithsonian Institute
Mary Morris’ tale of traveling the Mississippi in a house boat with river pilots Tom and Jerry, The River Queen, brought her critical acclaim. Her stories often include travel as an important theme, as well as tensions between being home and being away.
Along with her husband, Maureen Wheeler is the co-founder of Lonely Planet travel guidebooks. She also established Lonely Planet’s corporate contributions program to aid humanitarian projects in developing nations.
Image Credit: Rico Shen
Patricia Schultz is an travel journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Schultz also wrote 1,000 Places To See in the United States & Canada Before You Die.
Ruth Benedict was an American anthropologist and folklorist who studied the relationships between personality, art, language and culture, insisting that no trait existed in isolation, a theory which she championed in Patterns of Culture.
Sheryl WuDunn was the first Asian-American reporter hired for The New York Times and the first to win a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the Tienanmen Square protests in 1989. Her best-selling books include Half the Sky, Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia, and China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power.
Image Credit: Marty555
Inspiring Women: Early Explorers
Alexandra David-Neel was a Belgian-French explorer, spiritualist, Buddhist, anarchist and author of over 30 books about Eastern religion, philosophy, and her travels.
Her most notable travels were to Lhasa, Tibet (1924), when it was forbidden for foreigners to enter.
Annie Smith Peck
Annie Smith Peck was an American-born mountaineer, traveler and woman’s rights activist. She set many records during her career, the most famous being climbing the highest climb in the Americas (1908) at the age of 58.
Peck supported Pan-Americanism and wrote several guide books about South America.
Carrie Adell Strahorn
Famed as the “Mother of the West,” Carrie Adell Strahorn traveled for 33 years through countless miles of the wild West by stagecoach, saddle, and railroad car. She married Robert A. Strahorn – a publicist for the Union Pacific Railroad – which helped her travel and establish new towns in Idaho.
Delia Akeley was an American explorer who traveled to Africa several times to collect specimens for several museums throughout her career. She served Europe in WWI and then returned to Africa to study the Pygmy tribes of Zaire.
Akeley was also the first woman to cross Africa.
Image Credit: The Field Museum
Eliza Hart Spalding and Narcissa Whitman
Eliza Hart Spalding and Narcissa Whitman were the first European-American women to cross the Rocky Mountains. Their journey, in 1836, was on the way to found a Protestant mission in Washington.
Gertrude Bell was an English writer, traveler, archaeologist and spy who explored and mapped Syria, Mesopotamia, parts of Asia, and Arabia.
She helped establish the Hashemite dynasties in what is today Jordan and Iraq.
Harriet Chalmers Adams
Harriet Chalmers Adams was an American explorer, writer and photographer who traveled extensively in South America for three years on horseback. As if that wasn’t enough, she retraced Christopher Columbus’ early discoveries in the Americas and Haiti, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific. She published many of her journeys in the National Geographic and Harper’s Magazine.
In 1925, Adams helped launch the Society of Woman Geographers.
“Harriet Chalmers Adams is America’s greatest woman explorer. As a lecturer no one, man or woman, has a more magnetic hold over an audience than she.” - The New York Times
Harriet Martineau was an English sociologist, feminist, traveler and author. In 1834 she traveled to the U.S. to conduct a two year sociological study of “the actual workings of republican institutions.”
Australian traveler and author, Ida Pfeiffer was one of the first females to circumnavigate the globe.
She traveled around the world twice in 1846 and 1851 and chronicled her journeys in A Woman’s Journey Round the World.
When I was but a little child, I had already a strong desire to see the world. Whenever I met a travelling-carriage, I would stop involuntarily, and gaze after it until it had disappeared; I used even to envy the postilion [driver], for I thought he also must have accomplished the whole long journey. – Pfeiffer’s words from A Visit to Iceland and the Scandinavian North
Isabella Bird Bishop
Isabella Bird Bishop was an English explorer, writer, natural historian and one of the most influential female travel writers of the Victorian era. In 1854, she traveled to America and wrote about her experience in An Englishwoman in America.
Bishop loved travel and circled the globe three times during her life exploring Korea, Japan, Canada, Hawaii, Tibet, Malaysia, Colorado and more.
Jeanne Baret was a French adventurer who is recognized as the first woman to have completed a voyage circumnavigation of the globe with the Louis Antoine de Bougainville’s expedition.
But the best part…
No one knew she was a woman. For nearly two years with 300 men on a small ship, she disguised herself as Jean Baret!
Louise Arner Boyd
An American born explorer, Louise Arner Boyd, enjoyed exploring Greenland and the Arctic, which earned her the nickname “Ice woman”.
At the young age of 67, she became the first woman to fly over the North Pole and was the first woman to set foot on the North pole. She lived a long and adventurous life and trail blazed exploration for women.
An American documentary-photographer, Margaret Bourke-White was the first female photographer permitted in war zones. As a war correspondent during World War II, she endured heavy fire during her time in North Africa and Italy.
At the age of 31, she became the first female journalist for Life, going to locations such as the Soviet Union, India, and Pakistan. While her life was cut short from Parkinson’s disease, Bourke-White serves as inspiration for female photographers and journalists.
Image Credit: jseattle
Margaret Moth was a photojournalist for CNN, covering topics such as civil wars in Bosnia, Georgia, Tbilisi, the Persian Gulf War and rioting in India. She won an award for courage in journalism from the International Women’s Media Foundation in 1992.
“The important thing is to know that you’ve lived your life to the fullest… You could be a billionaire, and you couldn’t pay to do the things we’ve done.” – Margaret Moth
As a pilgrim aboard the Mayflower, Mary Chilton is said to be the first European woman to step onto American shores.
An American fashion designer and socialite, Ruth Harkness braved China’s civil war in 1936 to finish her late husband’s quest of bringing the first live panda to the United States. She constantly took care of the baby panda that she brought back, including taking him to cocktail parties.
Harkness helped change viewpoints on killing animals for their pelts from romantic to horrific.
As interpreter and guide for explorers Louis and Clark, Sacagawea traveled thousands of miles across the United States, accompanied by her husband, another interpreter, and her infant son (born just before the journey began). Her presence with the exploring party helped ensure a peaceful journey for the Louis and Clark expedition.
Image Credit: Matt Howry
With an autobiography on the story of the Northern Paiutes and their experiences with European settlers, Sarah Winnemucca was the first Native American woman to publish in English. Her excellent language skills enabled her to be both an interpreter for the US Army and an activist for her people.
She was a true inspiration for her people and other activists for Native American rights.
Stephanie Sinclair is a photojournalist known for her coverage of gender and human rights issues worldwide, particularly child marriage. She covered the start of the Iraq War, and has since moved to the Middle East to cover the region.
Image Credit: Razak Paris
Susanna Moodie, an English author, is known for describing her experiences as a Canadian settler, starting from 1832 when she moved to Canada with her husband and daughter in Roughing It in the Bush. Her book enabled others – who like herself were unaccustomed to farm life – to prepare for life in the new colony.
Inspiring Women: Land Explorers
While Alison Gannett is a world champion Extreme FreeSkier, as well as mountain biking, skiing and surfing instructor, she is also an expert on climate change and founded the Save Our Snow Foundation. Gannett also travels giving speeches. Read Alison Gannett’s interview on Trekity.
Annie “Londonderry” Cohen Kopchovsky
Annie Kopchovsky was the first woman to bicycle around the world, traveling through the US, France, and the Middle East in less than 15 months. Her ability not only as a bicyclist but as an independent woman turned the Victorian world upside-down.
She remains an inspiration for all independent women globetrotters.
Image Credit: Michael Neubert
At the young age of 75, Barbara Hillary became the first African-American woman to reach the North Pole. Four years later, she reached the South Pole, becoming the first African American woman to have gotten to both. Hillary is also a lung cancer survivor. Listen to Barbara Hillary’s interview on Trekity.
In 2012, Felicity Aston became the first person, male or female, to ski solo across Antarctica using only her own abilities.
She continues her love of Antarctica by serving as an ambassador for the British Antarctic Monument Trust. Read Felicity Aston’s interview on Trekity.
Florence Von Sass Baker
When Florence Von Sass Baker was 17 and about to be sold into slavery, she was rescued by British explorer Sir Samuel Baker. She accompanied Baker on his expeditions to Ethiopia; Baker, in hopes of finding the source of the Nile and Florence, in hopes of stopping slave trade on the river.
In 2006, Hannah McKeand set a world record for the then fastest ski trip to the South Pole solo and unsupported, managing the entirely uphill journey from Hercules Inlet in 39 days, nine hours, and 33 minutes. She currently serves as a polar guide and trainer for those looking to go to Antarctica and has made attempts to the North Pole.
Helen Thayer, an explorer from New Zealand, has accomplished many firsts for women. She was the first woman to travel alone to either of the poles, going to the Magnetic North Pole. She’s also the first woman to walk across the Sahara Desert, and walked across the Gobi Desert at the age of 63. Thayer has also lived above the Arctic Circle for a year, was the first non-indigenous woman to kayak 2200 miles of the Amazon River, and is the bestselling author of Three Among Wolves, Walking the Gobi, and Polar Dream.
Her accomplishments continue to astound and inspire today. Read Helen Thayer’s interview on Trekity.
Lizzy Hawker is an ultrarunner who won the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in France, the Run Rabbit Run in Colorado and set a course run time for the Spartathlon Ultra Race in Greece. Read Lizzy Hawker’s interview on Trekity.
“You have to give yourself a good answer to carry on. I think we’re all looking for that edge, challenging ourselves, whether that’s expressed through music, writing, raising a family, or endurance running.” – Lizzy Hawker
Image Credit: Alex Treadway
Lynne Taylor holds the record for the fastest trip from Land’s End to John-O’Groats by a woman on bicycle, at two days, four hours, 45 minutes 11 seconds. Taylor, a UK native, had also set the previous women’s record for the approximately 874 mile journey.
At the young age of 64, Margret Hagerty decided to become a runner to try to stop smoking. Since then, she became the oldest person to run a marathon on every continent, her personal favorite being the “Arctic Marathon”.
Rebecca Wass, a UK native, set the world record for the longest tea run. Yes, a tea run. She cycled 934 miles during a four week journey, giving out around 8,000 cups of tea and biscuits. She also helped raise £7,000 for charity during her journey.
Rosie Swale-Pope is best known for her more than 20,000 mile run (solo and unsupported) across the northern hemisphere to raise money for prostate cancer charities and an orphanage in Russia. She also rode 3,000 miles on horseback across South America, made a solo transatlantic voyage in a 17 foot boat, and is the author of Just a Little Run Around the World.
Image Credit: Thruxton
At 18, Sarah McNair- Landry became the youngest person to ski to the South Pole with her mother who was the first Canadian women to ski there. The family journey, an unsupported and non-resupplied expedition organized by her mother, was aided by kites.
McNair-Landry has also crossed the Greenland ice sheet and continues to inspire future explorers.
Steph Davis is the second woman to have free climbed El Capitan in one day, the first to have free climbed the Salathé Wall, and the first American woman to have summitted the seven major peaks of Fitzroy Range. She is also a BASE jumper, wingsuit flyer, vegan activist, and author. Read Steph Davis’s interview on Trekity.
Tina Sjögren is the first woman to have reached the North and South Poles and the summit of Mount Everest. Along with her husband, they make the fourth and fifth people to have accomplished the feat. The couple managed their North Pole journey without sails, resupply drops, or dogs.
At 205 days old, Vaidehi Thirrupathy, who is a British citizen, became the youngest person to travel all seven continents. Her journey finished in Antarctica.
Yolanda Holder is the world record holder for the number of marathons completed in one year. How many? 106. Known as the “Walking Diva”, the US native traveled all over the country to accomplish her goal.
Inspiring Women: Mountaineers
Alison Hargreaves was the first British woman to not only climb Mount Everest without the aid of a Sherpa or supplemental oxygen. She is also the first climber to have solo climbed the north faces of the Alps in one season.
Hargreaves faced criticism for continuing her climbs after becoming a mother, but joyfully continued her journeys. She is an inspiration for doing what she loved despite fierce opposition.
Arlene Blum is the first woman to have attempted Mount Everest, and is best known for successfully leading the first American climb of Annapurna, which was also an all-woman ascent.
Caroline (Kay) LeClaire
At the young age of 60 years and 77 days, Caroline LeClaire became the oldest female to climb the Seven Summits. She began her career in climbing at the age of 51.
Crina Coco Popescu
Crina Coco Popescu, a Romanian climber, is the first female to climb Mt. Sidley, the highest volcano in Antarctica. Her climbing record includes peaks such as Mont Blanc, Alam Kooh, Kilimanjaro, and McKinley. Read Crina Coco Popescu’s interview on Trekity.
Edurne Pasaban is credited as the first woman to have climbed all the 8,000 meter peaks in the world, her first having been Mount Everest in 2001. Her last was Shisha Pangma, which she climbed in 2010.
Image Credit: Irekia
At the age of 84, Esther Kafer successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Society of British Columbia. She and her husband are the oldest known couple to have climbed the mountain.
A smoker until the age of 38, Jeanne Stawiecki is the oldest woman to complete not only the Seven Summits but also hold the women’s fastest aggregate time for marathons on all seven continents. Read Jeanne Stawiecki’s interview on Trekity.
Junko Tabei became the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest on May 16, 1975, surviving an avalanche. She was also the first woman to climb all Seven Summits.
In 1871, Lucy Walker became the first woman to climb the Matterhorn. She made all of her climbs in traditional women’s dresses of the time, never wearing pants.
Oh Eun-Sun is claimed to be the first woman to have climbed the 14 tallest summits in the world, finishing on April 27, 2010. She is also the first Korean woman to have climbed the Seven Summits. Her summit of Kangchenjunga has been disputed, but her accomplishments deserve inclusion in this list.
Renata Chlumska is the first Swedish woman to have climbed Mount Everest. In 2005 and 2006 she completed an “Around America Adventure,” where she kayaked from Seattle to San Diego, bicycled from San Diego to Texas, kayaked around Florida to Maine, and finished by bicycling back to Seattle.
Image Credit: Jan Ainali
Inspiring Women: Road Warriors
Benka Pulko holds both the women’s record for the longest distance solo motorcycle at 111,856 miles and the longest duration at 2,000 days. She is also the first person to motorcycle in all seven continents and was the first woman to ride in Saudi Arabia solo.
Pulko is also the author of several books.
Elspeth Beard is the first Englishwoman to ride a motorcycle around the world. She survived a couple of harrowing accidents as well as having her passport and valuables stolen.
Along with her husband, Helen Taylor has taking efficient driving to a whole new level. She’s broken 92 world driving records, 46 speed world driving records, 46 fuel economy records and set the world record for the longest distance driven on one tank of fuel. Read Helen Taylor’s interview on Trekity.
Lianna Hulbert, along with teammate Simon Etkind, set the world record for the longest rickshaw ride by a team by traveling 932 miles. The journey raised money for the charity Action Village India.
As the co-world record holder for the longest driven journey along with her husband Emil, Liliana Schmid has driven over 421,000 miles through 172 countries. Read Liliana Schmid’s interview on Trekity.
Paige Parker, with her husband Jim Rogers, hold the world record for the most countries visited in a continuous journey by car. In their three year journey of more than 152,000 miles they visited 116 countries. Parker has also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Twice. Read Paige Parker’s interview on Trekity.
In 2005, Susi Bemsel and Daniel Snaider completed the longest journey by rickshaw, going from Bangkok, Thailand to Eichstätt, Germany.
Violet Cordery broke female stereotypes when she became the first woman to drive around the world in 1927. She traveled 10,266 miles, with an average speed of around 24 miles per hour.
Inspiring Women: Space Explorers
Alex Hall brought back Zeppelin airships to the US after 70 years, and is now Senior Director of the Google Lunar XPRIZE Foundation. She is known as an expert for bringing space to the general public and has hosted “Final Frontier” on BBC Television, as well as authoring books for children and adults on space.
A former astronaut and retired Air Force colonel, Eileen Collins is the first woman to pilot the Space Shuttle and the first to command a Space Shuttle mission.
She has received many awards, including the Distinguished Flying Cross.
In 1992, Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to go to space. She overcame race and gender discrimination when she was in college, served as a Peace Corps volunteer, and is currently an active public speaker.
In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman and first civilian to go into space. During her flight, she collected data on how the female body reacts to being in space.
Inspiring Women: TV
Ann Curry has reported on several major international stories, including from Baghdad, Rwanda, Darfur, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and within the Southeast Asian tsunami zone.
She is known for her reporting on humanitarian issues.
Image Credit: David Shankbone
Helen Skelton kayaked more than 2,000 miles along the Amazon River, trekked 500 miles to the South Pole, and is the second woman to have finished the 78 mile Namibian ultra marathon.
She works as a television presenter.
Image Credit: Cloudsurfer_UK
Samantha Brown has worked as a television series host for various Travel Channel for more than a decade. She’s visited over 220 cities in 49 countries.
Inspiring Women: Water Explorers
In 2005, Andreya Wharry set the longest continuous kite-surfing journey. She surfed 115.4 nautical miles.
Angela Madsen and Helen Taylor
Angela Madsen and Helen Taylor are the first women to have rowed the Indian Ocean. The boat that the eight person team used was specially designed for Madsen, who is a paraplegic and has also rowed the Atlantic Ocean. Read Angela Madsen’s interview on Trekity.
Belinda Kirk, Beverley Ashton, Laura Thomasson, and Angela Madsen
This group of four women, known as the SeaGals, were the first all-female crew to row assisted and non-stop around Britain. Their journey raised money for the charity Help For Heroes.
Dee Caffari is the only woman to have circumnavigated the globe three times, as well as the only woman to have done so in both directions.
She has also taken part in the Mark Webber Pure Tasmania Challenge adventure race. Read Dee Caffari’s interview on Trekity.
Ellen MacArthur, DBE
Dame Ellen MacArthur is known for breaking the world record for the fastest unassisted circumnavigation of the world. She had previously sailed around the world solo at the age of 24.
She is the founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Image Credit: Amplified2010
Gloria Hollister Anable
In 1930, Gloria Anable was the first woman to explore deep-sea life in the bathysphere. She broke the then world record for women’s descent, going down 410 feet.
At 16, Jessica Watson became the youngest person to circumnavigate the world unassisted and non-stop, returning just before her 17th birthday.
Katie Spotz is the youngest person to have rowed solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and is also the first person to have swum the length of the Allegheny River. Read Katie Spotz’s interview on Trekity.
Image Credit: Spotz
At the age of 16, Laura Dekker broke the world record for the youngest person to have sailed solo around the world with multiple stops. She survived a storm and did not have much support during her journey. Read Laura Dekker’s interview on Trekity.
Image Credit: ukexpat
Laurel Cooper, along with husband Bill, hold the world record for the longest time spent at sea at 36 years. They visited 45 countries, have sailed over 100,000 miles, and survived a hurricane.
The couple has written many boating manuals as well as authoring Sell Up and Sail.
Roz Savage holds four world records for rowing: the first woman to row solo across the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans; rowed over 15,000 miles; spent more than 500 cumulative days of her life at sea in her 23ft rowboat; and has taken around 5 million oarstrokes.
Sarah Outen is the youngest person and first woman to have rowed solo across the Indian Ocean. She raised more than £30,000 for two arthritis charities. Sarah’s new mission is to travel around the world using only human power. Read Sarah Outen’s interview on Trekity.
Tania Aebi is the first American woman to have circumnavigated the globe and at the time, was the youngest person to have done so. She recounted her journey, made without GPS in 1985 at 18 years old, in her book Maiden Voyage. Read Tania Aebi’s interview on Trekity.
Tania Elias Calles Wolf
At 325.41 miles, Tania Elias Calles Wolf holds the world record for the longest unassisted journey in a dinghy by a woman. She has also competed in four Olympic Games.
About the authors:
As the founder and CEO of Trekity.com, Darcie Connell is a world traveler and writer who’s been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, The Next Web, LifeHack, LearnVest, Mint, and GoAbroad. She has traveled around the world – including over two years experience traveling the world consecutively – is the co-author of Business In A Backpack and loves sharing her advice and experiences on Trekity.
Ceci Chalasani is an undergraduate student at the University of the Pacific’s School of International Studies and has also studied abroad at universities in Grenoble, France. As a budget-conscious student, Ceci is always on the lookout for new and cheap ways to have fun and travel. She loves reliable public transportation, all things eco-friendly, fair trade dark chocolate from São Tomé e Príncipe, and working at Trekity.
Do you know additional inspiring women travelers?
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