A reflection written by Women’s Center director, Jess Myers, tag-teamed with friend, Priscilla.
A few weeks ago, my dear friend, Priscilla, and I headed out on a road trip of a lifetime through Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. And, because we both solidly identify as feminists, this, my friends, was a Feminist Road Trip. We had a blast hiking through four national parks, camping under the stars, and being amazed by the vast beauty of nature.
As the mileage left on our trip got smaller and smaller, in addition to reflecting on our favorite moments, we began to reflect on our journey and what specifically made it feminist. We compiled quite a long list and what we each uniquely brought to our trip as intersectional feminists. For example, I wasn’t as conscientious about ensuring we were making an investment in the local economy when we booked our lodging and Priscilla wasn’t aware about the $5 a day campaign to ensure hotel workers are being fairly compensated for their efforts. We challenged each other along the way to think more critically about our feminist values and what that looks like in practice. For example, getting your truck stuck in the mud doesn’t have to be a women-only experience in getting un-stuck and accepting help from men doesn’t have to be un-feminist (even if you have to “uuuuggggh” it out together when you get back to the safety of your un-stuck truck – which by the way, we affectionately named Carol).
Here we are in Fort Collins, Colorado on Day 1 of our road trip with Carol!
At the Grand Canyon taking our official 10 year anniversary celebration photo complete with a handmade heart.
Learn the history of the place and space you’re traveling through… and then dig deeper. Honor who came before you and learn about the native and indigenous people who first called these places home. Where the story of women are not present, ask why, and when their stories are present, pause to read and reflect with each other. We particularly enjoyed the story of Sharlot Hall and the Vermillion Cliffs in AZ.
Support local businesses. Tip your guides and servers generously and leave at least $5 a day for your housekeeper for each day you stay in your hotel/motel.
Encourage other women on the trail and on the road.
Share your growing edges with each other and then keep reflecting and constructing a counter-narrative. For example, a theme throughout our trip as women traveling without our significant others was being mindful of saying “I” instead of “we” when recounting personal stories, goals, and hopes and the importance we hold in maintaining our individuality in a long-term relationship.
Gracefully accept help as needed.
Be body positive and affirming. Don’t judge other women for taking selfies. You never know what it may have taken for another woman to get to that summit.
Four Corners selfie with a selfie stick!
Play excellent women-empowered playlists and sing your hearts out (for some great ideas, check out NPR’s Turning Tables: 150 Greatest Albums Made by Women)
Honor your friendships with women and celebrate your milestones. Friendships can be just as valid and important as our romantic and/or blood-family relationships.
Here we are at Lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona. We had the best the guide who took this awesome photo of us.
For those planning your next feminist road trip, here’s some of our favorite travel blogs and hashtags (links do not represent endorsements) we used to prepare for our road trip state of mind:
- On She Goes: Travel Stories for All Women of Color
- Bearfoot Theory: Outdoor Adventure for the Everyday Adventurer
- Field Tripping – a bi-weekly column in Baltimore’s City Paper written by UMBC’s very own Dr. Kate Drabinski
Happy traveling to all our feminist wanderlusts out there!