Day Two of The Women in Travel Summit started with breakfast. I had the pleasure of meeting some amazing ladies, including one who traveled throughout the United States, by visiting 50 States in 50 Weeks. Here’s the kicker, she’s from Australia. One of the profound things she said is that we are so lucky to be in the United States because if we want to be in the desert we can go to Arizona, if we want to be on a beach, visit Florida, Need culture? Go to New Orleans and there’s history in every state in America. Her stories resonated with me, as she found splendor in driving through New Jersey and Nevada. Why does it take someone from a completely different continent to visit our country and find such magnificence in it? Too often as Americans, we overlook the grandeur of our country. It made me want to discover all that she found to be enticing. There’s such value in living in a vast country filled with natural resources, nature, and incredible wonders.
After taking our quintessential group picture (all 300 of us), we listened to the amazing stories of people who partake in volunteer travel. This conference opened my eyes to traveling with a purpose. I eventually would love to use my travels to help others; maybe building a school in Thailand for girls who just escaped sex trafficking or making pillows and beautiful patterns with the women of Kenya; Teaching the children of Dubai English or handing out sanitary napkins to young girls in need in India. I had a lot to think about when it came to travel, I was excited about the prospects.
Our first breakout session was WordPress for Travel Bloggers, it basically went through all the ways you can self-host on a WordPress platform. This was valuable information, but right now I am ok with hosting via WordPress and not self-hosting. However, three things I learned that could be valuable to you is:
- Always compress images before uploading to a blog
- Always do regularly scheduled backups of your database and your entire site
- Protect yourself by any means from hackers, because they want to send out spam emails using your credentials. If WordPress prompts you to pay extra for hacker protection go for it
Street Harassment while traveling with Delia Harrington, was one of the sessions I looked forward to the most. While I was producing my show Reserved, this was one of the issues I was very passionate about bringing to the forefront. Growing up I had no idea how to navigate this unwarranted attention I was getting all of a sudden. To avoid the hissing, catcalling and being stalked to my building, I would just take a longer way home, getting off the train one stop before I should’ve and just walk the 5 extra minutes. This was my means for coping with an issue, that everyone else seemed to ignore.
When I arrived to the forum, it felt like I was not alone. I watched around me when women of all shades raised their hands when asked if they have ever been victims of street harassment. I shared the story of my first time being catcalled at age 13, or even cursed out when I didn’t respond. It was comforting to know that other women were able to relate, some women recounted being as young as 11 when they were first approached by men on the street. It’s disheartening to know that an issue such as street harassment, which can make girls and women feel unsafe in their own neighborhood, is taken so lightly. I remembered trying to tell the women in my family about my experiences and feeling like I was talking to a brick wall. Just ignore it, they would say. I believed I had to accept this fate of being harassed as just the norm, although at the time I didn’t know it was harassment. However, I had my aha moment in college; I was in a Women Studies class listening to final group projects when my fellow classmates based their presentation on Street Harassment. It was the first time I was able to define what was happening to me; finally, I didn’t feel ignored because other people experienced it too. Although street harassment is a global issue, there are currently great strides being taken against it. Here are some ways we can respond to street harassment:
- Direct confrontations with street harassers may prove extremely dangerous, particularly if you are alone in an unpopulated space.
- It’s each individual’s right to decide when, how, and if to respond but keep your safety in mind
- If you’re safe to do so confront your harasser with strong body language
- Use statements, not questions (For example, leave me alone vs. will you leave me alone?)
- Identify the perpetrator “Man in the yellow shirt stop touching me”
- Educate others, especially Men
- Tell your story
- Get active
Finally, after sneaking out of the hotel to do some sightseeing with my mom and grandma, during our 2-hour lunch break, I attended the last break out session for the conference. This session was all about maintaining a travel blog when you are not traveling. I found some amazing tips on using your neighborhood as a source of inspiration or reliving your times in the countries you previously traveled to, by writing about topics you did not already address( maybe restaurants, museums, to-dos or what not to do). I found this session to be great because it inspired me to keep on writing even during the down times when I may not have a trip on the horizon. Just open your eyes to see that there’s culture all around.
When we all convened, back in the main hall, I was under the impression that the conference was over, but there was so much more to come. Adventurous Kate was the final speaker of the conference. She spoke strongly and passionately about Gender Inequality in the blogging world. She rose awareness about men getting all the praise for blogging and photography but are they really dominating the field or just getting credit for it? She encouraged us to support one another.
With that being said, I had to leave the conference earlier than anticipated. I thought the conference would end on time but it went over and I felt like I was leaving an amazing party early. Well, there’s always next year and its happening in sunny California!