Women's Travel Fest

The Women’s Travel Fest

I’ve always loved seeking out antique markets while traveling but when I started going on buying trips for my antique jewelry business a few years ago this became the focus of my travels, and finding great markets became critically important. Unfortunately, I found much of the information online and in guidebooks to be poor.  So I decided to fill that vacuum and share my discoveries on this blog and make it a resource for antique dealers, collectors, and travelers with a love of antiques.

In order to find a wider audience for my travel writing I decided to take an approach that worked for me in my career as an architect: networking. This brought me to the Women’s Travel Fest which was held in San Francisco from February 27 through March 1st 2015.  The stated purpose of the Women’s Travel Fest was twofold:  to provide expert information that inspires and celebrates women’s travel, and to provide opportunities for networking with other travelers and travel professionals.  In both respects, it did not disappoint.

Women's Travel Fest Women's Travel FestThe Women’sTravel Fest opened with a party at the SOMA StrEat Food Park, a semi-permenant gathering of food trucks.  It was a great opportunity to network with some of the attendees, many of whom had traveled from around the country to attend. I met one women who had attended the Women’s Travel Fest in New York last year and liked it so much that she decided to meet up with a friend from Chicago at the San Francisco Fest, which bode well for the next two days of programs.  I also got to meet one of the keynote speakers, Felicity Aston, a world-renowned explorer who is the first and only woman to ski solo across Antarctica!

Women's Travel Fest
The Marketplace

Day Two of the Women’s Travel Fest consisted of a series of keynote speakers and panels on topics both practical and inspirational. Short breaks between presentations provided opportunities for networking and browsing the small, but well-focused, marketplace.

Women's Travel Fest
Felicity Aston

Having met her the night before, I was looking forward to Felicity Aston’s talk and found that she is as accomplished a speaker as she is an explorer.  I liked her talk so much that I bought her book, confident that it would be absolutely fabulous since the foreward was written by Joanna Lumley.

I also enjoyed listening to, and then talking with, Amy Gigi Alexander a travel writer who was on the panel “Staying Safe Abroad”, a discussion of personal safety and health while traveling.

A different perspective on safety was discussed in “Uncharted Territory: Navigating Travel in a Changing World”, about the impact of political upheaval on travel.  The panel included Laura Ling, a reporter who was held captive in North Korea for 140 days and released only after Bill Clinton intervened on her behalf; Julia Cosgrove, editor-in-chief of AFAR magazine; and Paula Froelich, editor-in-chief of Yahoo Travel, who managed to be hysterically funny even when talking about this serious topic.  Paula got me wanting to immediately hop on a plane Egypt to take advantage of  “a Four Seasons holiday at Holiday Inn prices” and the ability to tour the pyramids without the usual crowds.

Women's Travel Fest
Panel Discussion

Day Three consisted of smaller workshops on practical topics including “Career Breaks” taught by Tara Russell, a career coach whose specialty is working with clients who want to take a career break without derailing their careers.  The final workshop I attended – and one of the most useful to me since I am about to start posting on Instagram – was “Make Em Jealous on Instagram” taught by Jade Broadus, a social media expert, who talked about tools and strategies to build your Instagram following.

If you’ve ever attended a travel show at a convention center with hundreds of exhibitors hawking their tours and gadgets, rest assured that The Women’s Travel Fest is nothing like it: while the couple of hundred attendees was large enough to attract major speakers, the event was small enough to meet some of the presenters and to network with many of the attendees.  Next year the Women’s Travel Fest will be held in New York City and I’m hoping I’ll be able to attend.

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