Do you Travel #LikeAGirl?

March 8th, 2015

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Did you see the Always commercial from the Superbowl  and wonder: “Do I throw #LikeAGirl?

What does it mean to do something #LikeAGirl?  Today, on International Women’s Day during Women’s History Month, I ask you: “Do you travel #LikeAGirl?”

The questions and issues of traveling as a woman are endless. People often contact me and ask, “Will I be safe if… I travel to this country, if I travel alone, …?” When I was traveling in India by public bus for months in the Fall of 2012, a 23 year-old woman was gang-raped on a moving bus and bystanders watched as her boyfriend was killed and she was thrown off the bus after her assault. Protests and riots around the subcontinent made the news in every country. I thought of all the women who were in the daily newspaper who were maimed by relatives throwing acid at them or touched inappropriately on crowded train cars. I asked myself if I was safe as I counted more than 150 hours on the crowded public buses.

Lisa Niver compelling women awards premier traveler event 2014 #LikeAGirl
Photo Credit: Kurtew Photography

At Premier Traveler’s Most Compelling Women in Travel Awards, many women were honored for their “perseverance, talent and outstanding accomplishments.” After hearing their engaging stories of life on the road and in the office, I wanted to share their advice, leadership and how they travel #LikeAGirl.

Alison Wright, photographer and writer, told me: “I am an ambassador for our country. I can open other people’s eyes with my photographs. I can change other people’s perspectives.” She lived in Nepal for five years and has been to 150 countries. Her memoir, “Learning to Breathe; One Woman’s Journey of Spirit and Survival,” shares her story of survival and the kindness of strangers when she nearly died in a bus accident in Laos. As she said, “We all have the same universal desires and concerns. We want to love and be loved. We want a fulfilling life with education and health and safety. We want the freedom to be ourselves.”

Judy Reeves, Director of Public Relations, The Americas for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts told me that  “Travel is a broadening experience because we seek something unknown to us.” At the event celebrating the most compelling women in travel, she said, ‘That is the beauty of travel. It takes you beyond yourself.”

 

Awards from @premiertraveler “Most compelling Woman in the travel industry” Judy Reeves @shangrilahotels

A photo posted by Lisa Niver (@wesaidgotravel) on

 Rahel Assefa, Vice President, Marketing – Ethiopian Airlines, flew to Los Angeles from Ethiopia to accept her compelling women in travel award. She told me how proud she is of all the women aircraft technicians and the amazing female pilots at Ethiopian Airlines. She said: “Even the men say women are the best technicians in the company as they are very detail oriented.” Personally, I am excited about Ethiopian Airlines starting direct flights from Los Angeles. I cannot wait to see the ancient holy city of Lalibella which is often called the 8th wonder of the world and is a UNESCO site. That night, I learned my first Ethiopian phrase: “Yichalal:” which means “Yes we can!” I keep thinking yes I can go to Ethiopia this year!   Stacey Stegman, Senior Vice President of Communications and Customer Service – Denver International Airport, told me that to travel #LikeAGirl means “go where you want but to have a higher level of awareness.” She is “aware of her surroundings, aware of situations, attracts people who are appropriate, aware of other cultures, and travels to different cities to see good and not so good areas. It is necessary to balance experiencing local culture with the sense to know what is safe. And to not be afraid to try new things and travel to new places.”  She recently celebrated as Denver International Airport was twenty years old on Feb 28, 2105. Denver is a city “that has transformed itself. The 18th largest metro area in America is thriving and has the 3rd largest domestic network so it’s connected to just about anywhere.” I cannot wait to go visit Denver again and see how it is “safe, cool and hip” (as described by Stacey’s husband, Lieutenant Edling. I promise to share the video of my police ride-along!).

  Listening to amazing women @premiertraveler #awards: Rahel Assefa @ethiopianairlines #travel transforms us!   A photo posted by Lisa Niver (@wesaidgotravel) on

Rosemarie Andolino, Commissioner – Chicago Department of Aviation, inspired me to go visit Chicago. She is a resource in understanding how travel impacts our entire economy.  Chicago welcomed over 50 million people in 2014 and she says, “we need to continue to welcome all nations. As the Chinese amass more wealth and more middle class, we want them to choose to use their travel dollars to come to American. We need there to be ease of travel and connectivity by improving roadways and access to national parks. In America, we do not have Xi’an or the Great Wall but we do have national parks and our people. We need access to be fun, easy and efficient or tourists will choose somewhere else to travel. As we connect modes of transport so visitors can travel with ease we need to consider how to compete globally to put our best foot forward and get people to choose to come here. Every 33 visitors creates one job. Tourism feeds businesses!”

The Honorees:

  • Rosmarie Andolino

Commissioner – Chicago Department of Aviation

  • Rahel Assefa

Vice President, Marketing – Ethiopian Airlines

  • Aileen Furlong Cafrey

Managing Director, MileagePlus – United Airlines

  • Captain Kathi Durst

B737 Fleet Captain, DFW Airport – American Airlines

  • Patricia Gallardo-Dwyer

Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability – Shangri-La International

  • Joanna Geraghty

Executive Vice President, Customer Experience – JetBlue

  • Fatma Yuceler

General Manager, Western USA – Turkish Airlines

  • Gail Grimmett

Senior Vice President, New York – Delta Air Lines

  • Christie Hicks

Senior Vice President, Starwood Sales Organization – Starwood Hotels & Resorts

  • Pam M. Nicholson

Chief Executive Officer – Enterprise Holdings

  • Judy Reeves

Director of Public Relations, The Americas – Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

  • Maria C. Sebastian

Director, Worldwide Sales and Marketing – Virgin Atlantic Airways

  • Sinead El Sibai

Vice President, Marketing – Dubai Duty Free

  • Stacey Stegman

Global Communications Director – Denver International Airport

  • Aubrey Tiedt

Vice President of Guest Services – Etihad Airways

  • Anne C. Toulouse

Vice President, Global Brand Management and Advertising – Boeing

  • Alison Wright

Photographer/Writer

How do you travel #LikeAGirl?

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