Have you ever wanted to safari in Tanzania, hike the Scottish Highlands, or chase baobabs in Madagascar? AdventureWomen, a travel company created by women, for women, can make it happen.
We recently chatted with Nicole Wineland-Thomson and Erica Landerson, two women behind AdventureWomen, to learn more.
Q: How did you get started planning adventures for women?
Nicole: We love adventure travel and we are women, so we’ve spent our entire lives (especially growing up) as adventure women with our mom at the lead! When we had the opportunity to take on AdventureWomen, it was so in sync with our family and our own values of travel. Being women, we understand the impact adventure travel can have on women, as well as the needs of female travelers.
Q: Why did you decide to focus just on women? Or Why do you think it is important for women to head out on adventures and push their comfort zone?
Nicole: Something really special and unique happens when women come together and take on challenges. The whole dynamic is different when it's women-only. We all know (and sometimes long for) that feeling when you’ve overcome a hurdle or physical challenge. There’s something so rewarding about pushing yourself and conquering something you never thought was possible. We want to create those experiences for women. We want them to feel empowered, and there’s no better way to create that feeling than through pushing comfort zones with the support of “cheerleaders” by your side.
Q: Do you get a lot of moms on your trips?
Erica: We do! We get a lot of moms that have children in their twenties and sometimes we get daughters/mothers/grandmothers! That is why we'll be offering mother/daughter trips in 2019.
Q: Some of your adventures are, well, pretty adventurous. Do you find that really outdoorsy and fit women sign up, or are you seeing women who are pushing outside their comfort zones?
Erica: Some women are interested in pushing themselves physically and may do the Mt. Kilimanjaro trip or the Peru lodge-to-lodge trek, which are both labeled as a “challenging” activity level. But if women aren’t challenging themselves physically, then they are challenging themselves in other ways: ziplining for the first time, going on a group alone and making new friends, trying a new cuisine, etc. For example, we had a woman who was terrified of ziplining. On our Costa Rica trip, it is 26 zips and once you start, you can’t turn around. It was the scariest thing in her life. Everyone was rooting her on and supporting her. She had tears at the end – she had conquered a fear.
Q: You guys are a family owned business, is that right? Tell us a little about that, how is it working with your mom?
Nicole: It’s been amazing working with someone that has so much knowledge, experience, and passion for the adventure travel world. She manages to guide and educate us, while also letting us take the lead. As working with any family, there can be some disagreements - and there’s always the personal emotions tied in - but it actually makes us think and work harder, and fight for something we all believe in. It’s really exciting to be involved with family because unlike other jobs where you leave work and go home to your personal lives, we often find ourselves chatting about the business during family dinners! It’s a part of our life and it lives and breathes with us. That’s really special.
Q: I suspect you have seen some impact that this kind of travel can have on someone. Do you have some stories you can share? Have women found the experience transformative?
Erica: We see these experiences all the time. Whether it’s a woman who just suffered a recent loss, or a group of friends celebrating a milestone, women often come to us for the very purpose of experiencing something “impactful.” Something special happens when a group of women come together, break down boundaries, explore the world and literally “jump in.” Even as a trip leader, I’ve had incredibly impactful experiences. For example, my Mt. Kilimanjaro trek this past winter. After my second pregnancy, I wanted to push myself physically. I decided to lead the trip to Kilimanjaro to motivate myself, knowing I’d have to physically train for the trip. The excitement of going to Tanzania and accomplishing this monumental achievement was so inspiring, it was the motivation I needed to train and spend hours in the gym. The eventual trek itself (after months of training) was amazing – the whole experience, from signing up to lead the trip, to the trek itself, was incredibly rewarding.
Q: What would you say to a mom of two who would love to get out on an adventure but is having trouble "justifying" taking the time for herself?
Erica: It is so hard being a mom! We totally get it. In order to be the best mom that you can, and want to be, you need to be good to yourself. You can’t be the mom you want to be when you are overstressed or overloaded. Sometimes getting a long weekend or a week (if possible!) to take care of yourself and go off on an adventure is important for your well-being and really, your soul. Find the time to focus on yourself, and the people around you (especially your kids!), will feel it.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to share with the Macaroni Kid community?
Nicole: Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself through adventure travel! Whether it’s a long hike or bungee jumping – go for it! The rewards of accomplishing something you didn’t know was possible are endless. And, if you’re a little bit afraid or nervous about the adventure ahead, bring a friend! Having the support of someone by your side can push you even further.