For many women, exploring the world and feeling empowered is not easily accessible. The opportunity to travel can inspire people in many ways, like Sophia Khalid, Founder of Girls Group Holiday, who left her career in law to create her own business.
Through her own time travelling, Sophia was inspired to fill a gap in the market, to provide the chance for other women to find personal empowerment through travel.
To hear more about the interesting concept behind Girls Group Holiday, check out our full Business Leaders episode below, or read on for the highlights.
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Sophia Khalid: From Human Rights Lawyer to Business Owner
Feeling like she grew up with an identity crisis, Sophia searched for empowerment and found it later in life through travelling and exploring the world.
“I always felt like the odd one out, like I never fitted in. I just wanted to be like everyone else. I spent a lot of time in my childhood reading. So I would stock up on books and use it as a form of escapism. But it sparked a fascination for different people, places and cultures. That planted a seed in me to travel the world.”
By getting the chance to travel, this inspired her in both her personal and professional life.
“I finally had the opportunity to travel later on in life, and it changed me. It made me view the world in a different way and appreciate myself and other people so much more.
“I feel that travelling helped me achieve so much more that I perhaps wouldn’t have achieved if I hadn’t travelled. I went on to do a Masters in Human Rights Law and my potential just flourished.”
Beyond achieving her degree, Sophia went on to speak at the House of Lords in London and be published in the Young Human Rights Lawyer’s Journal to name just a few.
But in the midst of her law career, in 2018 she decided to take the plunge and leave the justice sector to concentrate on launching Girls Group Holiday. Solo travel for women from different cultures is something that is sometimes looked down upon or even discouraged. This sparked the inspiration for Sophia to create her own business to provide an equal opportunity for women of all backgrounds to travel.
What is Girls Group Holiday?
Girls Group Holiday is unique in that it is specifically designed for women to explore and enjoy new surroundings.
“Girls Group Holiday is a group of random women from all around the UK who don’t know each other. We all come together, meet at the airport and go on holiday together. It is a big adventure, a completely new experience, where you explore new places and make new friends.”
But as Sophia states, travelling can create much more than just memories. What’s more, is while she offers holiday spaces to all women, she is particularly passionate about empowering women from diverse ethnic groups.
“I want girls to come away with me and feel like valued members of the group, to leave the holiday feeling more confident and having created strong bonds. I target all women, but I specifically target women from minority backgrounds like myself, as I can relate to them more.”
Speaking of the difficulties women from certain groups have when travelling, Sophia emphasises that gender is also still a big issue for women when they travel.
“Culture is a big thing. A lot of families and girls themselves feel more comfortable going as a group than going alone. But it is definitely harder for women to travel independently compared to the opposite sex.”
How Girls Group Holiday Works
Explaining her business model, Sophia says the trips are well-planned and follow a step-by-step approach:
“I plan the trip, I put together a rough guide and then I market that online. I am contacted by women who are interested. I then arrange an initial telephone call, then we do a group Skype call to introduce everyone before we go away. It can be daunting at first, as we are strangers, but within minutes it feels like a family culture”.
When travelling, no one can guarantee everything will go smoothly. Sophia shares her experiences and how they overcome any mishaps that happen while away.
“Sometimes unexpected things can happen, but it’s not the end of the world! In the past we have lost our luggage, we’ve dealt with rainstorms and we’ve got very lost. But things have always turned out well in the end, and it’s all part of the adventure – and we are always all in it together.”
For more insights into travelling, women in business and information on Sophia’s background and business, watch our full Business Leaders interview. You can also learn more about Girls Group Holiday and upcoming trips by checking out the official website.
Conquering Your Inner Explorer: Overcoming Travel Fears and Embracing the Unknown
Travel, as much as it promises breathtaking landscapes and enriching experiences, can also stir up a cocktail of anxieties in even the most intrepid souls. For women in business, accustomed to calculated risks and structured environments, stepping outside their comfort zone through travel can seem like a daunting leap. But fear not, fellow adventurers! Here’s a compass to help you navigate the emotional terrain and unlock the transformative power of travel:
Identifying Your Fears:
- The Unknown: Stepping into unfamiliar cultural landscapes, navigating new languages and customs, and relinquishing control can trigger apprehension.
- Safety Concerns: Concerns about personal safety, especially for solo female travelers, are valid and require preparation.
- Fear of Failure: What if the trip isn’t everything you imagined? Embracing the unexpected and appreciating the journey itself can alleviate this pressure.
- Financial Worries: Balancing travel with budget constraints can be stressful. Research, planning, and creative budgeting can alleviate these concerns.
Packing Courage, Not Just Bags:
- Challenge Negative Narratives: Reframe your anxieties as exciting opportunities for growth and self-discovery.
- Visualize Success: Imagine yourself confidently navigating airports, forging connections, and embracing new experiences.
- Seek Support: Connect with other female travelers, share your fears, and learn from their experiences.
- Start Small: Ease into bigger adventures by taking local weekend trips or joining organized group tours.
- Preparation is Power: Research your destination, learn basic phrases, and plan logistics to feel more in control.
Embracing the Journey:
- Focus on the Present: Savor the sights, sounds, and smells of your new surroundings. Let go of expectations and be open to spontaneous adventures.
- Connect with Locals: Embrace cultural differences with an open mind and a smile. Striking up conversations can be unbelievably rewarding.
- Celebrate Small Victories: From navigating public transport to ordering food, acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small.
- Embrace Imperfections: Things might not always go according to plan. Mistakes and unexpected situations are often the most memorable parts of the journey.
- Document Your Story: Keep a journal, take photos, or record videos to capture your experiences and share them with others.
- Confidence Boost: Overcoming your fears and navigating new environments will build your confidence in all aspects of life.
- Global Perspective: Travel broadens your worldview and fosters empathy for diverse cultures.
- Enhanced Creativity: New experiences spark fresh ideas and perspectives, propelling you forward in your business endeavors.
- A Renewed Spark: Travel can reignite your passion for life and provide a fresh perspective on your goals and aspirations.
Remember, women in business are already equipped with the skills to conquer challenges and embrace the unknown. So, pack your courage, book that flight, and embark on a journey that will not only expand your horizons but also unlock your full potential. The world awaits, and your personal growth story is waiting to be written.
Start planning your adventure today, and watch as your travel fears dissipate, replaced by the exhilarating confidence of a woman who dared to embrace the unknown!
Giving Back While You Go: Volunteering and Sustainable Travel for Women
Traveling can be more than just ticking off bucket list destinations and collecting souvenirs. For women in business seeking meaning and purpose beyond their careers, volunteering and sustainable travel offer opportunities to connect with communities, learn new skills, and positively impact the world while exploring fascinating corners of the globe. Here’s how to embark on this fulfilling journey:
Finding Your Volunteer Niche:
- Align with Your Values: Choose causes that resonate with you, whether it’s environmental conservation, animal welfare, education, or community development. Research organizations that actively involve volunteers and align with your skills and interests.
- Seek Skills-Based Projects: Leverage your professional expertise to offer valuable contributions. This could involve teaching English, providing business consulting, or sharing marketing skills with local communities.
- Embrace Short-Term Opportunities: If extended journeys aren’t feasible, consider shorter volunteer vacations or “workcations” that combine volunteering with cultural immersion.
Sustainable Travel Choices:
- Minimize Your Footprint: Choose eco-friendly destinations and accommodations with responsible practices. Opt for local transportation, minimize waste, and be mindful of your resource consumption.
- Support Local Communities: Prioritize experiences that directly benefit local communities, like homestays or tours led by community members. Choose fair-trade souvenirs and support local businesses for authentic cultural experiences.
- Promote Conservation: Participate in projects that protect endangered species, preserve ecosystems, or address environmental challenges. Educate yourself and others about responsible tourism practices.
- Volunteer Platform Resources: Utilize platforms like GoEco, Volunteer World, and Projects Abroad to find reputable volunteer programs abroad aligned with your interests and skillset.
- NGO and Sustainability Network Connections: Research eco-conscious travel companies and non-profit organizations focused on specific causes. Contact them directly to explore volunteer opportunities within their projects.
- Follow Sustainability Influencers: Connect with online communities and bloggers promoting sustainable travel. Stay updated on volunteer events, eco-friendly destinations, and responsible travel tips.
Benefits Beyond Borders:
- Personal Growth: Volunteering and sustainable travel provide opportunities to learn new skills, gain cultural understanding, and broaden your perspective. You’ll return feeling empowered and inspired.
- Networking and Collaboration: Connect with like-minded travelers and local communities, building meaningful relationships and expanding your professional network.
- Career Impact: Volunteer experiences can enhance your resume, develop leadership skills, and provide real-world experience applicable to various professional fields.
Remember: Volunteering and sustainable travel require research, planning, and cultural sensitivity. Respect local customs, traditions, and ecosystems. Be a responsible visitor and leave a positive impact wherever you go.
So, pack your bags with a spirit of giving and a desire to discover the world with a purpose. Start exploring volunteer opportunities, research sustainable travel options, and embark on a journey that will not only enrich your own life but also leave a lasting positive impact on the communities you visit.
Conquering the World on a Budget: Financial Strategies for Solo Female Travel
The call of adventure whispers, but finances sometimes scream “stay put!” Don’t fret, brave souls! Solo female travel on a budget is not just a dream, it’s an achievable reality. Here’s your roadmap to exploring the world without breaking the bank:
- Destination Research: Choose budget-friendly destinations with affordable flights, accommodation, and transportation. Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and Central America offer incredible experiences on a shoestring.
- Travel Dates: Avoid peak seasons and holidays when prices skyrocket. Opt for shoulder seasons or weekdays for better deals. Research local festivals or events that might offer unique, budget-friendly experiences.
- Embrace Flexibility: Be open to last-minute deals, alternative travel routes, and unexpected changes. The flexibility to adapt can unlock a treasure trove of budget-friendly options.
- Accommodation Hacks: Consider hostels, dorms, homestays, or couchsurfing for budget-friendly lodging. Research Airbnbs with shared kitchens to save on dining out. Look for deals on platforms like Agoda or Hostelworld.
- Budgeting Like a Pro: Create a realistic budget for flights, accommodation, food, activities, and essentials. Utilize budgeting apps like Mint or YNAB to track expenses and stay on track.
- Travel Like a Local: Ditch the tourist traps and opt for authentic experiences. Explore local markets, public transportation, and free community events. Embrace street food and learn basic local phrases to save on dining out.
- Slow Travel: Resist the urge to tick off landmarks in a frenzy. Choose a few destinations and delve deep, maximizing your experience without straining your wallet. Long-term stays often unlock discounts and local connections.
Travel Hacking Tips:
- Mileage and Credit Card Rewards: Utilize credit cards with travel points or airline miles to offset flight costs. Sign up for loyalty programs with airlines, hotels, and car rentals to accrue rewards and discounts.
- Be a Deal Hunter: Compare prices across travel platforms like Skyscanner, Kayak, and Momondo. Utilize student discounts, senior discounts, and flash sales whenever possible.
- Volunteer as You Travel: Consider work-exchange programs or volunteering gigs that provide accommodation or meals in exchange for your skills. This can be a rewarding way to immerse yourself in the community and save money.
- Think Long-Term: Invest in travel gear like a sturdy backpack, reusable water bottle, and versatile clothing. These can save you money in the long run by eliminating travel-specific purchases.
Resources for Women Travelers:
- Solo Female Travel Blogs: Find inspiration and practical tips from experienced solo female travelers like Nomadic Matt, Adventurous Kate, and The Blonde Abroad.
- Facebook Groups and Forums: Connect with other solo female travelers online. Share tips, recommendations, and support through dedicated groups and forums like Girls Who Travel and Solo Female Travel Network.
- Budget Travel Resources: Utilize platforms like Worldpackers, Workaway, and Helpx to find volunteer opportunities abroad. Budget Travel Blog and Scott’s Cheap Flights offer valuable resources for finding deals and planning budget-friendly adventures.
Remember: Solo female travel on a budget requires resourcefulness, planning, and a dash of adventure. Embrace the unknown, prioritize experiences over possessions, and don’t be afraid to negotiate! With a little creativity and these handy tips, you’ll conquer the world on your own terms, proving that wanderlust doesn’t need a hefty price tag.
So pack your bags, grab your budget, and set off on your unforgettable adventure! The world awaits, and it’s ready to be explored on your own terms.
Women in Business: FAQs
Q: I’m nervous about solo female travel. Is it safe?
A: While there are inherent risks to traveling anywhere, solo female travel can be safe with careful planning and smart choices. Research your destination, choose safe accommodation, trust your intuition, and stay aware of your surroundings. Investing in travel insurance and utilizing resources like travel communities and volunteer programs can offer additional peace of mind.
Q: What’s the best way to budget for solo female travel?
A: Choose budget-friendly destinations, embrace public transportation, explore local options for food and activities, and consider alternative accommodation like hostels or homestays. Utilize travel hacking methods like credit card rewards and loyalty programs, and research deals and discounts on travel platforms. Embrace flexibility and prioritize experiences over possessions to stretch your budget further.
Q: I’m worried about feeling lonely on the road.
A: Solo travel doesn’t have to be lonely! Stay in social accommodation like hostels, join walking tours or local events, participate in volunteer projects, and connect with other travelers online. Strike up conversations with locals, embrace serendipity, and remember that the world is full of friendly faces waiting to be discovered.
Q: How can I build my professional network while traveling?
A: Research industry conferences and events at your destination, utilize co-working spaces to connect with fellow professionals, and network with local business communities. Share your expertise through workshops or public speaking, and remain active on online professional platforms. Embrace every encounter as a potential opportunity to learn, collaborate, and expand your reach.
Q: How do I keep in touch with the people I meet on my travels?
A: Utilize technology like video calls, social media groups, and email to stay connected. Share updates, offer support, and plan future meet-ups or reunions. Consider hosting cultural events or sharing travel stories to keep the connections alive and deepen your cultural understanding.
Women in Business: Conclusion:
Travel for inspiring women in business is more than just sightseeing; it’s a transformative journey of self-discovery, personal growth, and professional enrichment. By overcoming fears, embracing new experiences, and forging meaningful connections, solo female travelers unlock their potential, redefine success, and build a global network that empowers them to make a difference in the world.
So, pack your bags, ignite your adventurous spirit, and embark on a journey that will redefine your boundaries, rewrite your definition of success, and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. Remember, the world is yours to explore, and the incredible women within it are waiting to connect. Bon voyage!
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