By Matt Villano, on March 11, 2015

Connecting women through travel

Expedia and the Expedia Viewfinder travel blog were proud to sponsor the second annual Women’s Travel Fest in San Francisco at the end of last month.

The event—a three-day conference to inspire, empower, and connect women through travel—attracted more than 200 attendees from all over the world, and served to inspire countless others.

According to founder Kelly Lewis, “The Women’s Travel Fest was an incredible event, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the way it turned out. Our speakers were excellent and gave wonderful travel advice, everything was seamless and our attendees really got the chance to meet each other and take part in this new community we have created.”

Kelly added that the highlight of the weekend for her was meeting all of the attendees, including two 16-year-old girls. One girl was driven down from Oregon by her mom as a birthday present, and the other was dropped off each day by her father.

“Both of these girls just loved the experience: They took notes, made connections, and emailed me thank-you notes,” Kelly said. “It was incredible to make an impact on tomorrow’s solo travelers.”

A number of Expedia Viewfinder bloggers participated in the event. Sarah Waffle Gavin, our fearless leader, helmed a panel that comprised Beth Whitman and Anne Taylor Hartzell (among others), and Sarah’s daughter led the crowd in a dance party. Beth and Anne gave their own talks, as well. Kate Thomas, a video whiz, filmed a bunch of footage over the course of the weekend and put together a short and engaging wrap-up (it’s embedded right after this paragraph).

I was there with some other members of the Expedia Viewfinder crew on the Friday night, handing out freebies at the Expedia-sponsored kick-off party at the SOMA StrEat Food Park.

In all, it was a team effort that resulted in a major win.

After the event, I asked Beth and Anne to share some of their own personal reflections about the weekend. Beth’s comments focused on the energy of the event, and the importance of recognizing that we don’t always have all the answers to life’s questions. Here’s a snippet from some of what she wrote:

“From the moment I stepped into the San Francisco Design Center for the Women’s Travel Fest, I was swept up in the wave of energy. Upbeat dance music pumped out of the speakers throughout the center and everyone was excited to be there—speakers, organizers, and paying participants. You could feel it in the air. What I’ve learned over the years is that it’s possible but difficult to follow a path without someone or something where you can find inspiration and information. Learning from others is a critical part of the equation, whether you have years of travel experience or you’re just starting out.”

(Beth also blogged about the experience of participating here.)

Expedia Viewfinder bloggers in the house

Anne took a broader perspective. After blogging about her participation in the event here, she told me the entire experience left her inspired:

“What struck me about this incredible diverse group of women was the one thread they all had in common: They live a life of intention and push through their fears to make their dreams happen. Whether it was Kelly and Mickela [Mallozzi, the event director] creating this event from the ground up while juggling hectic travel schedules; or Felicity Aston trekking solo across Antarctica, these women stopped making excuses and started making plans.”

For more about Women’s Travel Fest in 2016, keep tabs on the event by clicking here. We’ll see you there!