To celebrate International Women’s Day, we thought we’d take a look at some of travel’s heroines and female pioneers. Selected for a host of different reasons, these five women have all done extraordinary things in seeing more of the world – or helping us see more of it! In strictly chronological order, they are…
Isabella Bird (1831 – 1904)
The first woman to be inducted into the Royal Geographic Society of London in 1892, Isabella Bird was a prolific author and world traveller. Travelling to the US in 1854, she wrote the first of her many books, ‘An Englishwoman in America’. She would go on to travel to Australia, Hawaii and cover 800 miles in the Rocky Mountains, publishing her most famous work ‘A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains’ on the latter. Visiting Japan, China, Indonesia, Morocco, the Middle East and India in later life, she was a fearless explorer and fiercely independent.
Nellie Bly (1864 – 1922)
Though the American journalist Nellie Bly is best known for her hard-hitting exposé on Women’s Lunatic Asylums, ‘Ten Days in a Mad-House’ – for which she went undercover in an institution – the pioneering writer is also famed for her incredible world travels. Inspired by Jules Verne’s book ‘Around The World in 80 Days’, she embarked on an extraordinary trip to try and beat the fictional record of Phileas Fogg, setting off in November 1889. Making her way over land and sea – from England to France, Singapore to Japan, and from Japan to California – she made it back to America’s East Coast in just 72 days. Her memoir, ‘Around the World in Seventy-Two Days’, charts the highlights and pitfalls of the 25,000 mile journey and remains popular to this day.
Amelia Earhart (1897 – 1937)
The first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, Amelia Earhart is one of Aviation’s iconic figures. She completed the solo transatlantic flight in 1932, setting off from Newfoundland, USA and landing in a pasture near Derry in Northern Ireland 15 hours later. A serial record-breaker, Earhart also published several best-selling books on Aviation, as well as helping to found The Ninety-Nines, an organisation for female pilots. Her disappearance whilst flying across the Pacific Ocean in an attempt to circumnavigate the world in 1937 makes her one of history’s most enigmatic and mysterious heroines.
Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz (1936 – )
The first woman to sail around the world single-handedly, Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz completed her voyage in 401 days. A national hero in Poland, Chojnowska-Liskiewicz finished her voyage in the Canary Islands in April 1978, having fended off waves, storms and even pirates all by herself. Australian Kay Cottee would become the first woman to sail around the world non-stop a decade later. Britain’s Dame Ellen MacArthur famously held the record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the world for a sailor of either gender between 2005 and 2008, completing the journey in a staggering 71 days, 14 hours.
Dame Carolyn McCall (1961 -)
The CEO of easyJet has had an extraordinary career. Ranked amongst the most powerful women in Business, she’s one of the few female CEOs at a FTSE 100 Company. Formerly the CEO at The Guardian, she joined easyJet in 2010 in an appointment that attracted an unusual amount of media attention – moving into a male-dominated industry, McCall has helped transform easyJet’s image, making it one of the country’s best-loved airlines. Earlier this year she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the New Year Honours for her services to the Aviation industry.
Planning on discovering new frontiers, or even just planning a short break? Tell us where you’re off exploring this year in the comments section below…