As travelettes, we believe that women should just grab their backpack, put on their heels and head out to live their adventure of a lifetime. Traditionally thought it has been men who have been credited with the greatest records, the hardest and most inspiring journeys. Therefore we would like to present to you, 10 of the most inspiring female travelers who followed their dreams, became pioneers and discovered the world. These are women who inspire and inspired us, to go out in the world to be who were are and do what we do.

1. Nellie Bly – around the world in 72 days (1864 – 1922)

Nellie set the world record for the fastest trip around the world in 1890, after having read Jules Verne’s “Around the world in 80 days” she decided that she wanted to travel the world in less than 80 days. The pioneer female journalist was also the first woman to travel around the world. Detailed descriptions of her trip by steam boat and railway can be read in her book “Around the World in Seventy-Two Days.” Read more about Nellie here.

2. Amelia Earhart – aviation pioneer and women’s rights activist (1897 – probably 1937)

Amelia Earhart decided to become a pilot in 1920, at a time when women were supposed to stay at home and care for the children and cook. She became the first woman to fly over the Atlantic, and full of ambition she decided to fly around the world in 1937. After finishing 3/4 of the trip she suddenly disappeared and was never found again. She wouldn’t let herself be stopped because she was a woman, and once said: “Please know that I am aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be a challenge to others.” Read more about Amelia here.

3. Margareth Moth – warzone photojournalist (1951 – 2010)

Photo via

Margareth was Australia and New Zealand’s fist camerawoman, and often travelled to cover warzone news. She was notorious for her outstanding fearlessness, her charisma and her love for the job. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2007, and died in 2010. In an interview with CNN in 2009 she said that: “I would have liked to think I’d have gone out with a bit more flair … 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.” Read more about Margareth’s remarkable life here.

4. Laura Dekker – youngest to sail around the world on her own (born in 1995)

Photo via

The courageous young sailor felt ready for her fist major solo trip as a 13 year old, and headed out on a journey from the Netherlands to England all by herself. Her father hoped that being alone for over a week in hard weather would cure her strong wanderlust, but at the age of 14 she declared her attention to sail alone around the globe. She faced several court cases trying to stop her from going due to her young age, but wishing to go on this trip with her heart and soul – she headed out to sea for the journey of a lifetime. After about a year at sea, 16 year old Laura completed her journey as the youngest sailor ever to sail around the globe. Another inspiring young woman who embarked on a sailing trip around the world at the tender age of 16, is the Aussie Jessica Watson – read more about Jessica here.

5. Annie Londonderry – first woman to bicycle around the world (1870 – 1947)

The 25 year old mother of three headed out on her journey around the world on her bike in 1895. Despite never having biked before, Annie jumped on a challenge to bike around the world in 15 months and earn $5,000. It deserves mentioning that her bike didn’t have any brakes! The journey was supposed to test a woman’s ability to fend for herself, in which she greatly succeeded. After her trip she moved her family to New York where she worked as a journalist. A famous quote from Annie says: “I am a journalist and a ‘new woman’ if that term means that I believe I can do anything that any man can do.” An inspiring woman who is currently travelling the world on her bike, is Loretta Henderson – follow her travels on her blog Skalatitude.

6. Junko Tabei – first woman to climb Mount Everest and the Seven Summits (born in 1939)

The Japanese mountain climber Junko, became the first woman to climb Mount Everest in 1975 and the first female to climb the Seven Summits (the highest mountain on each continent). Junko has slowed down on her climbing a bit (after all she’s 73), and is now director of the Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan, an organization working to provide mountain environments.

7. Maureen Wheeler – Lonely Planet co-founder (born in 1950)

The Belfast born traveler headed out on an overland trip to Asia together with her husband Tony in 1972. When they came back they were broke but people were asking so many questions that they decided to write a guide book. It was called “Across Asia on the Cheap” and was the start of what later came to be the guidebook empire that we all know so very well. Maureen is still travelling and has written several guidebooks. Read more about here over at Lonely Planet.

8. Gertrude Bell – multi-talented pioneer traveler (1868 – 1926)

Gertrude was an archaeologist, diplomat, linguist, writer, Red Cross volunteer, honorary secretary for the British Women’s Anti-Suffrage League and Arabist – and all this at the beginning of the 20th century! She played an important role in the formation of Iraq, and her documents are still used as government references today.

9. Tina Sj̦gren Рfirst woman to complete the Three Poles Challenge (born in 1959)

Photos by Explorersweb

Tina was born in Prague, but ended up in Sweden as her family fled the country when she was nine. She married a Swede in 1983, and they later emigrated to New York. Together with her husband Tom (they’re known as T&T), she set out to be a record maker as the first woman to climb Mount Everest and reach both the South- and the North Pole, a challenge known as the Three Poles Challenge. The couple were the first to broadcast live pictures from the Antarctic ice cap in 2001, and in 1999 they broke the high altitude record for broadcasting at Everest. Read more about T&T here.

10. Rosie Swale-Pope – Running the world for cancer awareness (born in 1946)

Photo via rosiearoundtheworld

After losing her husband to cancer, the Swiss-Irish Rosie (now living in Wales) decided to put on her jogging shoes and run solo around the world on her 57th birthday. She was going to run for cancer awareness and raise money for charity. Five years, 20,000 miles, 53 pairs of jogging shoes and a fractured hip later, she completed her mission in 2009. According to Daily Mail’s article about brave Rosie, she was shadowed by a pack of wolves in Russia, confronted by a naked gunman in Siberia and nearly froze to death in Alaska. She also sailed solo across the Atlantic in a 17ft boat and with her family to Australia and back around Cape Horn with a catamaran. In 2010 she set out to complete 26 Marathons in 26 days. Read more about her adventures here.


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Kathrine Opshaug Bakke Kathrine Opshaug Bakke, editor at Travelettes from 2009 to 2013, wrote this post. Originating from Norway, she has been living in Berlin, Lisbon, and Stockholm the past 6 years.

She loves cities with imperfect facades, photography, traveling by bike, vintage hunting, and everything that comes with cheese. Follow her visual diary at