By Courtney Scott, on April 25, 2016

7 things I learned at Women’s Travel Fest

Every year for the past three years I have celebrated International Women’s Day by speaking at an internationally attended conference called Women’s Travel Fest. The two-day event, which was found by fellow travel blogger Kelly Lewis, includes talks and workshops that inspire and empower women to take on the world of travel. Even as a seasoned traveler, I always learn so much from the intrepid group of women who attend the conference. If you are looking for a bit of female travel inspiration, read on for seven of the most important things I learned at Women’s Travel Fest.

Learn three essential words in a new language
According to keynote speaker and travel icon Samantha Brown, you’d be surprised how far you can get with three simple words in any language: hello, please, and thanks. These words break barriers and give you an immediate connection with anyone you meet!

Solve a problem
Many female travelers are also entrepreneurs, whether they are starting their own blog, media company, or, in the case of 2016’s keynote speaker Miki Agrawal, period-proof underwear. Miki started the company THINX because there was a problem in the world and it needed solving. Her advice to anyone thinking about starting a new company is to first ask yourself these two questions: “What sucks in my world?” and “Does it suck for a lot of other people?”

Companies that solve problems have a better chance of succeeding.

Invest in your website
In Nikki Vargas’ “How to Ditch Your 9 to 5 Job” workshop she said, “Your homepage is like your face. It’s your first impression.” She stressed the importance of a polished and professional looking homepage when trying to break through the clutter of bloggers, and especially when you are looking to attract brands for paid partnerships. According to Nikki, hiring a designer is an extremely worthwhile investment.

Embrace your feelings, whether good or bad
In Megan McDonough’s panel, “Overcoming Emotional Obstacles Abroad,” she gave great advice about dealing with the emotional aspect of travel. She said, “If you are feeling anxious or depressed on the road, try to remember that it’s completely normal and that everyone goes through times of hardship at one point or another.”

Do things regardless of fear
Matador Network’s Kae Lani Kennedy had some amazing advice about conquering fears. She said that people always think she’s brave and fearless because of the job she does. And to that she always responds, “I am afraid every single day of my life.” Fear is something that everyone experiences, says Kae Lani. Being brave is not about living without fear, it’s about living the life you want regardless of fear.

Viewfinder Tip: Annie Griffiths emphasized the importance of the “Rule of Thirds” when taking photos. For a professional look, avoid centering your subject in the frame.

Get the shot by getting low
Getting the perfect photograph of a stranger is often challenging, especially when you are in a foreign country. Many people feel threatened by having a camera in their face and it takes a certain demeanor to build enough trust to get the photos you see in travel magazines. Annie Griffiths, one of the first female photographers to work for National Geographic, said that if she senses a person is apprehensive of her taking their photo, she immediately gets lower than them—physically lower. She kneels or sits on the ground. It’s a simple gesture, but Annie says it always makes people feel more humble and have less threatening presence.

Try the envelope trick
In Deidre Mathis’ panel, “Wanderlust: For the Young, Broke Professional,” she recommended to try stashing away $75 in an envelope every time you get paid. Stash it in your dresser drawer and forget about it. Do this for a year, she says, and you’ll have an $1,800 travel fund. It’s an effortless and easy way to save!

What’s the best travel advice you’ve ever received?