What do you get when you mix badass ladies, international travel, and active adventures? Besides my undying affection, that is…
WHOA Travel – Women High On Adventure – is a travel group for women who like to push themselves and experience the world beyond your general double-decker tourist bus.
WHOA is led by Allison Fleece and Danielle Thornton of New York, two friends who met on their first trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro (which they now affectionately refer to as ‘Kili’). “We didn’t go through a women-specific tour group or anything,” Allison explains, “but our group ended up being all women, and we both thought this could be really cool as a program.” And thus, an idea was born.
Now, they lead several adventure trips across the globe each year, including one annual trip to Machu Picchu, one to Munich, Bavaria, and two to Kilimanjaro.
Women for Women
Part of what makes WHOA different from other travel groups is their focus on giving back to the communities they visit. They’ve worked with local schools and women’s educational programs in all the communities they’ve visited, hosting fundraisers or otherwise trying to get involved. Lately, though, their impact has taken a different, more individual shape:
“What we’ve started noticing is that one of the biggest ways we make an impact is by sponsoring local women in these communities to join us on our trips,” Allison says. “By sharing experiences with these women, we’ve been able to contribute on a personal level, giving something they’ll hold with them for the rest of their lives. We’ve found that connecting with local women and sharing the experiences has brought a more personal, unique connection to the whole experience.”
Danielle adds, “Last year for International Women’s Day [one of their annual trips to Kili], two women who live in Moshi – the city at the base of the mountain – joined us for the hike. They had lived their whole lives at the base of Kilimanjaro, and never dreamed they would ever actually go to the top. They are both single mothers of daughters, and it was really cool to see them be able to bring the experience, the whole journey, back home to their daughters.”
In their most recent trip to Kili last month, they sponsored two local women once again to join them on their hike.
The trips you’ll go on with these ladies are not your average spring break vacays – they’re so much more. Get ready to hike, bike, kayak, and even fly (a-la paraglider) around your destination. “When you travel, hiking and biking are often the best ways to see the place,” Allison explains. “Its also great to come together and accomplish something challenging with new people. These adventures are challenging, but it’s great; you’re with this group of girls, feeding off each other’s energy, even on the harder days – you’re doing it together.”
“It’s so rewarding, too!” Danielle chimes in. “Plus when you’re done you can sit, relax and enjoy the scenery over a beer, because you’ve earned it.”
RAPID FIRE WITH ALLISON & DANIELLE
Favorite travel adventure you’ve been on – with or without WHOA:
Dream WHOA adventure you’d like to see happen:
Allison: I would love to go on a month-long trip to New Zealand, caravanning through different wineries and going skydiving, hiking and kayaking – really taking the time to explore.
Danielle: We always talk about getting to all seven continents, so I really want to see a trip to Antarctica happen with WHOA. I went last year with my family and did some kayaking and photography and it was incredible.
Best international travel tip?
Danielle: Do something that is completely out of your comfort zone, that you would never do back home, and come back with amazing stories.
Allison: Walk away from cultural biases and check your assumptions at the door. When you’re there, eat how they eat; do how they do.
For more information about WHOA Travel, their upcoming trips – or how to book your own custom adventure – visit their website, whoatravel.com.
So now, all that’s left to ask is… Where did I put my passport?
Photo Credit: Several photos, including the featured image, appear courtesy of Nicola Bailey. For amazing adventure pics, visit her Facebook page.