Forget about crashing on a stranger’s couch or eating that questionable-looking street food; these women take extreme travel to a whole new level.
From kayaking across the Atlantic to bicycling around the world, these travelers – many of them world record holders - are the living embodiment of passion, courage, strength, and unabashed adventure.
Eliza Massey is a professional photographer, motorcycle aficionado, and extreme solo female traveler. Between 2013 and 2014 she spent 18+ months riding her BMW 650 all over the world – from the northeastern coast of the United States down through Mexico and South America, across many African countries, and finally through India.
When those annoying oceans got in her way, Eliza shipped her bike to meet her at the next destination on her list. Did I mention she’s 60 years old? Talk about one badass inspiring solo female traveller.
Loretta Henderson is a 40-year old cyclist who has been traveling solo around the world since 2009. To date, she has visited over 30 different countries across five continents, including Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Oceania – all without the help of planes, trains, cars, or any other form of motorized transportation. Of the innumerable destinations she’s visited, her favorite have been in Pakistan, Namibida, and Mongolia.
Aliy Zirkle knows how to travel in style – behind her highly trained pack of sled dogs as they race along the Iditarod Trail, which stretches 1,059 miles across Alaska. When the 46-year old champion isn’t busy traversing a thousand snowy miles in 10 days or less, she moonlights as a construction worker with her husband.
Travel blogger Jessie Festa is an extreme budget traveller who shows you how to enjoy expensive cities like New York for $25/day or less. I’m pretty sure it’s possible to spend $25 in New York simply by taking a deep breath, which makes Jessie a true travel extremist!
Shirine Taylor is another round-the-world cyclist who has traveled throughout South America, India, Nepal, and Europe – all by bicycle. Shirine has traveled through many areas of the world that are considered dangerous for solo female travellers, facing both terror and transformation as she went. She is also an extreme budget traveller, spending as little as $5/day on food and accommodation.
When Sasha DiGiulian wants to travel, she knows exactly which direction to go: up! This award-winning mountain climber was the first American woman to climb a 9a (5.14d) grade at Kentucky’s Red River Gorge in 2011. When she’s not busy studying at New York University, you can find Sasha scaling the Swiss Alps. Literally.
When Chloe McCardel wants to island hop in the Bahamas, she doesn’t opt for a boat or plane. If she needs to travel 78 miles over open water, Chloe swims. In 2014 she completed a record-breaking 48+ hour swim between islands, which resulted in sunburn, jellyfish bites, and some serious speculation that she is actually part mermaid.
Randi Delano is the co-creator of Just A Pack and Veggie Visa, two extreme travel websites that feature long-term minimalist travel (you only get one pack, after all!) and vegan travel. If you’ve ever traveled throughout, say, anywhere, you know just how hard it can be (read: extreme exploratory food missions) to find decent vegan fare. Randi’s eating her way around the world without compromising her vegan lifestyle and showing other vegan travellers how to do the same.
In 2013, Mylène Paquette became the first woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean by herself. Originally from Montreal, Mylène spent nearly a decade working with terminally ill children at the Sainte-Justine Hospital. A 2009 conversation with one of these children inspired her to become a mariner and begin her training. In addition to being the first woman to row across the North Atlantic, she is also the first person from North America to accomplish such an astounding feat.
Felicity Aston set a world record when she skied alone across the continent of Antarctica in 2012. 59 days and 1,744 kilometers later, this renowned scientist became the first woman to earn a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for her extreme solo ski expedition. The hardest part of her journey? Being utterly alone for two months straight, and having to pee outside in below-freezing temperatures!
Beyond the world records, death-defying feats, and incredible adventures these women have had, what’s most inspiring is their ongoing determination to experience the world on their own terms.
Rebecca Anne Nguyen is a freelance writer and the Editor in Chief of The Happy Passport Magazine, which publishes inspiring tales of transcendence through travel. Follow her @Happy_Passport on Instagram and Snapchat @Rebecca.Nguyen
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