Travel can be one of the most transformative and inspirational experiences a person can have. It can be especially empowering for women as travel fosters growth and learning, builds confidence, creates global connections with like-minded people, and nurtures much needed self-care and “me time.”
Practicing Thoughtful Tourism
And while global exploration feeds a traveler’s soul, one of the most significant things that travel can do is help create economic opportunities. Tourism creates a platform for women to access education and meaningful employment that results in steady income and more independence.
For example, by supporting a women-owned business and purchasing souvenirs that are handmade by female locals, every purchase goes directly to the women who made the products.
I spoke with Dr. Carol Dimopoulos, CEO of Learning Journeys, who has been a shining light in the tourism industry for more than 25 years.
More than the culmination of a life-long dream, Learning Journeys is Carol’s vision to provide opportunities for others to continue their journeys of personal and professional growth while exploring other cultures and communities. And, in turn, her mission is to contribute to the economies of host communities through thoughtful tourism practices.
Dimopoulos shared, “As an educator and researcher, I have infused every Learning Journeys program with locally based experiences that contribute to the communities visited. Our company is committed to protecting and empowering women through responsible tourism throughout the world.”
Whether traveling solo or as part of a girlfriend getaway, Learning Journeys offers several women-only programs created by women, for women, in support of women. Through private workshops, historical immersion, and hands-on experiences, the following two women-focused Learning Journeys’ itineraries offer immersive learning for every traveler while celebrating and supporting local women’s initiatives.
Queen of the Nile
With no more than eight women on each departure, the Queen of the Nile program promises a level of hands-on experiences that will surpass expectations. And, as an added incentive, there are no single supplements for any departure in 2021 and 2022 for a savings of $1,500.
After arriving in Cairo, and the first night spent in a hotel with views of the Nile River, the Egyptian experiences begin with a visit to the Pyramids and Sphinx, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Then, the small group will visit a perfume workshop to discover the history of Egyptian perfumery followed by a visit to the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, including the spectacular treasures of King Tutankhamun. A guided night-time tour to the heart of Cairo promises a lively evening of sampling traditional Egyptian dishes while taking in the vibrant city center.
The next day begins with a morning excursion led by an Egyptologist to renowned historical sites such as the Citadel of Saladin and the mosque of Mohamed Ali. That afternoon will be spent at the Egypt Mag Women’s Empowerment Project, an advocacy movement to empower the women of Egypt, to learn about the activities and impact of this vital women’s rights organization.
After Cairo, it’s on to Luxor, Edfu and Aswan via a cruise along the Nile to visit the Valley of the Kings and important temples. En route, the group will be hosted for brunch at a local Egyptian woman’s home and partake in a henna workshop in a local Nubian village to try this ancient artform.
Back in Cairo, amid shopping in Khan El Khalili, is a hands-on immersion in authentic Egyptian cooking class, ensuring that these life-changing experiences can be relived at home.
Desert Rose – A Woman’s Learning Immersion in Jordan
The nine-day small group Desert Rose itinerary invites women on a journey through Jordan to discover the rich culture through the lens of local women.
Starting in the capital city of Amman, the Jordanian immersion begins with an evening cooking class and dinner at Beit Sitti, a women-owned restaurant. While in Amman, a visit to the Iraq El-Amir Women Cooperative Society provides time to work with locals on one or more projects such as ceramics, weaving, Labaneh preparation, and more.
In Beit Al-Baraka, there are a variety of exploratory experiences to pursue – from cycling the flat farmlands of Umm Qaia to meeting local artists who are reviving basket weaving with banana leaves, palm and straw (a tradition deeply rooted in the Yarmouk Valleys). From there, a trip to the Dead Sea will ensure a tranquil afternoon spent at the spa or a casual exploration of the nearby sites.
No trip to Jordan is complete without a visit to Petra. A full day of exploring the ruins is concluded with a sunset Jeep tour with a Bedouin driver to Wadi Rum. The trip ends with morning yoga in Wadi Rum followed by a journey back to Amman for a final evening of soaking in all the just-discovered culture and traditions.
Would you support a women-owned business or project? Do you think this kind of support empowers women to be more independent – especially in male-dominated nations? Have you ever participated in a travel program that provided learning experience and support to local women’s businesses? Please share in the comments!