3 Things I Took Away from the 2018 Women in Travel Summit

IMG_7136For all the planning you can do and goal setting, sometimes opportunities come your way and you just have to take them. The Women in Travel Summit (WITS) was one of these opportunities.

I have been sharing travel stories on this blog for a few years now, and there was even a time I thought I might want to do some professional travel writing. What sounds better than making your living, traveling the world and telling people about your adventures?

A little over a year ago, I joined Wanderful, a network for women travellers when I won a membership from Lindsey at I’ve Been Bit Travel. Wanderful hosts the WITS and at the end of last year’s summit, they  posted a 24-hour “earliest bird” rate for the 2018 summit in Quebec City. Thirty minutes before the rate expired I bougth my ticket.

I had no idea where I would be or what I would be doing, but I felt a weekend with other women who loved travel, blogging and learning about both in Quebec City was easily worth $250.

Fast forward one year plus one day. I am back at home, reflecting on what I took away from WITS, what I can do with it and am compelled to share my experience.

My best attempt at taking a creative photo with one of the sponsor’s bikes makes it clear why I shouldn’t rely on brands paying me as a social influencer to flaunt their products!
  1. I don’t want to be a travel blogger. I’ve been dabbling with this for fun and being immersed within a community of influencers, validated what I already had started to feel. I want travel to be an experience for me to relax, learn and enjoy on my terms. I don’t like the pressure of thinking about what story I’m going to tell or what picture I can share.I also don’t want to do the work. Not for this anyway. I have mad respect for the woman who are traveling, raising kids, maintaining a relationship, and blogging. That is work my friends. There are so many things that come with being a professional blogger, especially when photography is so important to travel writing.Hard pass here. It felt liberating to realize this and share it with other women. Some of whom, I learned, felt the same way. And yet, the weekend was still an awesome experience to explore travel-related issues, the business ownership side of blogging and meet some inspiring women! Speaking of whom…
  2. Inspiration comes from new experiences and meeting new people. I wasn’t shy to tell people I had no interest in travel writing then share the other projects I was working on. Because food is such a common interest for people, I had many interesting conversations with women around what I do and their perceptions of food and agri-tourism.Ideas were being lit nonstop and I have pages of notes to apply in my current role and build into future projects. All from an event that had nothing to do with my work and everything to do with something I love for fun.
  3. We can do so much better when we travel. I often ponder what it means to be a white, heterosexual, Christian female when I travel and the privileges that comes with that. I always believed with privilege comes responsibility and yet, I can’t say I ever explored either in depth enough to know how to use that responsibility for more good.There were so many opportunities to explore these topics at WITS. I am looking forward to dissecting some of my experiences and using the available resources to be a better traveler going forward. Travel is one of the greatest opportunities we have to gain new perspectives to be more empathetic towards each other. It only makes sense we try to make a greater positive impact on those communities also.
Hundreds of women from Canada, the U.S. and around the world attended the Women in Travel Summit 2018 in Quebec City. It was a high-energy room!

Finally, this weekend just reinforced that as a woman I need to stop being so apologetic and take more space. Women are still treated as a “niche” market in travel, despite the fact 2/3 of travellers are women, we make 80% of the travel decisions and 72% of women said they planned to travel by themselves in a 2014 survey.

Not only that, but there is significant under-representation of women of colour, LGBTQ+ women, overweight women, and non-Christian women in tourism (and most every part of our society also). Women are working their butts off to change this and I loved hearing how Ana Flores developed the #WeAllGrow Latina Network to help Latina bloggers collaborate and achieve greater success together. She takes every opportunity to represent her community, even if it seems token.

“I go and make my voice heard so my story is so compelling, and everyone wants to come back to my community.” – Ana Flores

Too often we wait for the moment to be asked and recognized for our work.

These messages transcend every industry and every field. Women have waited too long to be asked. It’s time we take opportunities and stop apologizing for being female. We need to tell the voice of internalized misogyny to shut up when it starts whispering “you don’t belong”.

When you show your worth, no one is going to question your place. Take the chance. Do the things & show them what they were missing.

The Women in Travel Summit is headed to Portland, Maine in 2019. Sound like something you might be interested in? You can buy tickets here and follow WITS19 on Facebook to find out about summit news, deals, etc.  

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