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Woman of the Week: Janet Mohapi-Banks

Janet Mohapi-Banks is nothing short of a truly inspiring woman.

Hers is a journey of never giving up and of having the faith to continue to push towards your dreams, even when all the chips are down and hope is in very short supply.

In today’s fast pace and seemingly hectic culture, it is never easy to feel as if all of the time, effort and love you put into creating the life you were proud of, all seems to be crashing down around you; and it takes a very special, committed and brave woman to not only weather the destruction, but to also stand up and do it all over again.

Mohapi-Banks is one such woman.

She  went from being at the top of her game as a Luxury Wedding Cake Designer,- even winning a Precious Business Award in 2010 to being burnt out and trying her best to manage a seemingly incurable digestive disorder as well as chronic fatigue  in just under a two year span.

“By 2012 I had burned out so badly I was left literally at death’s door for nearly 5 years with a rare (and according to my specialist at The Royal Free Hospital) incurable digestive disorder and chronic fatigue.

As a result, I was forced to close my cake business which was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  I moved out of the London area, got my affairs in order and prepared for the inevitable.” She said.

For any entrepreneur, being forced to say good bye to your ‘business baby’ is a very hard and painful process which can fill you with feelings of guilt, frustration, resentment and a lot of fear.

It was unbelievable to her that in only a span of 18 short months she had gone from delivering cakes to some of the most prestigious venues in the UK, including the Ritz Hotel Mayfair and winning awards for her fabulous designs, to being so exhausted and in pain that she was not able to even get out of bed to care for her children- a boy aged 12 years, and a girl 15.

A second chance on life came for Janet in the form of a chiropractor who by cracking her spine released her vagus nerve, thereby curing her and allowing her to grow back to optimal health.

With this new lease on life, Janet launched her coaching business in an effort to help other women to grow their ideal business without the stress that had nearly crippled her.

“Before I was critically ill, I used to overwork, which lead me to burnout.  I now realise that my overworking was due to a lack of self-belief that I truly deserved my amazing successes,” the Transformational Life Coach for Entrepreneurs revealed.

Mohaphi-Banks, who is a proud and happy mother of two explained that women almost always tried to do everything by themselves and her biggest take away from her own experiences was to know when you needed help and to outsource reliable people for the job.

When I asked what got her through the day, she said it was her refusal to waste a minute of her second chance and her amazing children. She noted that while she had gone through some ‘incredibly challenging times in my life’ she continued to get back up with a smile on her face and a determination to face her challenges.

 

Barbados making moves to bolster infrastructure

The Government of Barbados is determined to boost the island’s natural disaster readiness as well as its ‘woeful’ infrastructure.

In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Kirk, which dumped heavy waters over the island from Thursday evening well into Friday, leaving many parts of the island inaccessible due to heavy flooding, Prime Minister Mia Mottley, is set to implement strategies aimed towards national preparation.

The Prime Minster, who cut her attendance at the United Nations General Assembly in New York short, and arrived in the country early Sunday morning, took to the streets with several of her Cabinet Ministers to assess firsthand, the damage Kirk had inflicted to several flood-affected communities around the island, including Bayland and Chapman Lane, St Michael; Wotton, Christ Church; and Ruby Tenantry, St Philip.

During the tour, she revealed that Barbados would soon be engaged in a national preparation exercise, once the current hurricane season was over in November and that a simulation exercise would be launched in early 2019 for affected communities.

“We are not waiting until next June because these things are affecting too many people and in ways that are substantive,” she said.

Barbadians she noted, needed to be better prepared and educated on how to cope and respond after being impacted, as well as how protecting the environment also enhanced their safety.

Suggesting that the  recently launched national clean-up Many Hands be conducted every quarter to improve the situation of garbage negatively affecting the island’s drainage she called for Barbadians to join in the clean-up efforts to further protect the environment thereby enhancing their own safety.

Water, sewage, drainage and roads were the biggest claims to the country’s infrastructure and the Prime Minster explains that while Government did not have the finances available to deal with all the issues following the passage of Kirk, they would be prioritizing critical needs.

“Our country’s infrastructure is in a woeful state and we need to be able to deal with it. We don’t have the money to deal with all at once but we have to prioritize what we need to and between the various ministries we are going to go after it systematically” she said.

She further added, “When we say sometimes to people that we are focusing on needs, and not wants, it’s because we understand that the needs of the country in terms of public spaces is able to avert drainage problems . . . able to avert flooding . . . able to avert problems with the roads . . . . All of these things are as a result of a lack of attention to detail and not prioritizing how we spend public money,” Mottley added.

Mottley noted that the problems facing the country in terms of its infrastructure were not ‘insurmountable’ and in some cases, there were fixes that could be immediately resolved by the Ministry of Public Works and the Drainage Division; however other challenges she noted would need to have more ‘medium to long term solutions’.

“If we don’t take care of each other in preparing for this, then what happened in other jurisdictions will cause too many people regrettably to die. Most people don’t die from the water itself, they die from the consequences of it,” Mottley said.

The Prime Minster also revealed that she would like to meet with Cabinet to discuss how to have a better ‘decentralised system’ where all residents worked to keep Barbados clean and safe.

Vegan meat is the future to a greener Earth

There was a time in my life when I tried to go vegan.  I gave up meat and turned to tofu and a lot of soybean based products in the hope to replace the meats with a more plant based and healthier option.

I failed.

The tofu taste was disgusting to my sensitive palate and even now, the thought of its scent makes me very, very sad.

So imagine my amazement when I found out about Beyond Meat, the 2009 founded company that just won the 2018 Champions of the Earth Award, which is the UN’s highest accolade for the environment along with, Impossible Foods. Both are producers of revolutionary plant-based meats which are alternatives to beef.

What is even more interesting is that these plant-based meat alternatives are outperforming grass fed beef in the fast food arena around the world, including the USA and Canada.

This is great news for anyone who understands the need to preserve and nurture the Earth as livestock cultivation is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

This is a distressing fact in and of itself as greenhouse gases are basically responsible for and the hole in the ozone layer and thus climate change.

With the advent of these plant based meat alternatives having proven to be sustainable choices, it means that being ecologically conscious no longer translates into  giving up on taste and enjoyment.

“This proves that positive climate action can taste even better!” Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment said. “Saving the planet requires something of a gastronomical rethink in some parts of the world, and Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods prove that this doesn’t mean our taste buds are making the sacrifice.”

Founder  and Chief Executive Officer of Impossible Foods Dr. Patrick O. Brown, explains that he knows that the big global problems are not the responsibility of someone else and agreed that in order to save the planet, it would be important to pleasantly appeal to the world’s tastebuds.

“This problem wasn’t going to be solved by pleading with consumers to eat beans and tofu instead of meat and fish. And it wouldn’t be enough just to find a better way to make meat; to succeed we would need to make the best meat in the world.”

The vegan meats by these companies have already outperformed grass-fed beef burgers by at least 40% at Luna Grill, and were sold out at Taco Bell in the USA, as well as at  A&W locations in Canada and was recently added to a burger chain in Italy, called ‘WellDone’.

So how can a vegan meat switch really make any difference? Is it just because it tastes better?

Well not only has many reported that the vegan burgers actually still taste like burgers, but this seemingly simple food choice equates to a greener world.

Here’s how.

Americans switching from beef to plant-based patties would be the equivalent of taking 12 million cars off the road for an entire year–or saving enough electricity to power 2.3 million homes.

A study coming out of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, which conducted a ‘cradle- to- distribution’ life cycle assessment of the popular vegan burger, discovered that the Beyond Burger generates 90% less greenhouse gas emissions, requires 46% less energy, has 99% less impact on water scarcity and 93% less impact on land use than a quarter pound of U.S. beef. That means a 41-square-foot plot of land can produce just one beef burger for every 15 Beyond Burgers.

 

 

 

The ugly sneaker trend is celeb gold!

If you’re like me and are prone to scrolling through your instagram and twitter feeds, then you would have seen one of the strangest, yet hottest trends for footwear in 2018 and its ‘ugly’!

I’m talking about the ‘ugly’ sneaker trend that has taken the world by storm with its decisive departure from the sleek, sexy and elegant styles, to that of the bold and un-streamlined look usually reserved for men.

With such powerful female influencers  as Kendall Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Hailey Baldwin and even  Bella Hadid rocking  these bulky, 90’s era shoes, it was really only a matter of time before the whole world accepted that this revamped look was all the rage.

The ‘ugly’ sneaker or ‘dad sneaker’ usually features a double or triple sole, adding favourable height to the wearer while offering extra support and minimizing strain on the legs for a more comfortable feel.

The shoes usually come in either all white or all black styles, themed with curvy lines in bright hues or neon colours .

In short the ‘ugly sneaker’ has become the canvas on which many of the well known footwear companies, including Adidas, Reebok, Sketchers , Nike and Puma have all used to lure the female consumer to embracing the sneaker culture for a revolutionalised fashion look.

The sneakers, which honestly have zero seductive appeal on their own, have however a certain curious  charm that creates a fearless fashionable statement, with sneaker wearers mixing the shoes with high end layering and daring styles, including cut off shorts, elegant dresses and some sporty themed clothes, resulting in a fresh, funky and feminine fashion statement.

In an interview with Forbes, Alegra O’Hare, vice president of global communications at Adidas, said their version of the ugly sneaker the ‘Falcon’ has come to represent a new generation of female consumers.

“Its bold and unapologetic DNA is at the core of today’s Falcon and reflects the confident mindset of a new generation of female creative consumers,” she said.

Recently, Adidas also announced its partnership with style royalty Kylie Jenner,  who has over 150 million followers over her social media platforms and is still set to becoming one of the youngest ‘self made’ billionaires, for the launch of the Falcon shoe which was inspired by Falcon Dorf, an iconic model from the 90’s.

By doing this, Adidas has cemented its shoe as a metaphor for fun and fearless feminine confidence. In its marketing for the shoe, the innovative footwear company said “Falcon is for those who do what they want regardless of what anyone thinks. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but for those who know that living unapologetically is the only way to live.”

As the colder seasonal months approach, it is a very safe bet that the ‘ugly’ sneakers are here to stay, especially with the styles already being featured in a plethora of Fashion Week shows, being sold out in Australia and holding pride of place with the millennial fashion icons on their social media feeds.

Canada to discuss rift with Saudi Arabia

Ministers from Canada and Saudi Arabia are hoping to meet this week to discuss the rift between the two countries.

This headline making announcement came from Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who on Tuesday announced her plans to meet and discuss the diplomatic dispute with her Saudi counterpart, Adel al-Jubeir on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York.

The goal of this meeting is to begin mending fences between the two powerhouse countries following Canadian criticism of the kingdom’s arrests of human activists, which lead to an explosive dispute over the summer.

The global headline making rift between the two countries began when Ottawa called for the release of activists who were detained for urging more rights for women in the kingdom, including women’s rights campaigner Samar Badawi on August 2nd.

Samar Badawi is the sister of well known detainee Raif Badawi who is serving a 10 year prison sentence. His wife and children however are Canadian, thus making Samar the sister-in-law of a Canadian citizen.

“We feel a particular obligation to women who are fighting for their rights around the world, women’s rights are human rights,” said Freeland.

“And we feel a particular obligation to people who have a personal connection to Canada. A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”

To this Saudi Arabia responded by freezing new trade with Canada; blocked grain imports; ordered thousands of Saudi students on government scholarships to leave Canadian universities and relocate to other countries or return home; placed a ban on Saudi flights to Canada, along with orders to brokers and bankers to suspend transactions with Canadian entities and finally, expelled Canada’s ambassador from the kingdom.

At the height of the dispute, it was al-Jubeir who appeared to lecture Canada on its responsibility to defuse tensions, saying at a news conference, “Canada knows what it needs to do. Canada started this, and it’s up to Canada to find a way out of it.”

However, Canada has not back down and Freeland has made it clear, prior to the hoped for meeting that the country would not be changing its fundamental position of standing up for human rights.

The Saudi side has relented to some extent, and has quietly dropped at least one of their more extreme measures, where the medical students and interns who were ordered to leave Canada by August 31st, were allowed to continue at their posts for the time being.

However, at least 7,000 non medical Saudi students were forced to interrupt their studies and some have chosen to file asylum claims in Canada instead of returning home.

Leading up to the hoped for meeting, Freeland disclosed that she was in regular touch with al Jubeir who she disclosed was working very hard to also soothe the rift between the countries.

“He is very engaged on the issue … we are hoping to meet in New York this week and I think that’s a good thing,” she told an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Both Canada and Saudi Arabia have chosen to allow their foreign ministers, rather than heads of state or heads of government, to deliver their country’s addresses to the General Assembly.

That means under UN protocol they must wait until later in the week to speak as Freeland will speak on Saturday morning, and  Jubeir will be the final speaker to give his presentation on Saturday afternoon.

A whole new digital money world for Barbados

A new digital currency pilot project may just be the thing to stop the potential standoff between Bitt -a financial technology (fintech) company in Barbados and some of the commercial banks, while allowing Barbados to move further onto the world’s digital money stage.

For years tension has run deeply between the commercial banks and newer fintech company,  Bitt, where banks have faced the ongoing dilemma of whether to collaborate with this company, or to develop their own in house, money transfer systems.

As pointed out by Bitt CEO Senator Rawdon Adams, the company has had to deal with  commercial banks in Barbados being ‘obstructive and anticompetitive’ while conversely they were developing more partnerships in the rest of the Eastern Caribbean than in Barbados -the country that ‘arguably needs fintech the most’.

At this year’s Bitt  annual blockchain conference, held at the Hilton Resort, Adams, spoke about the reluctance of some of the local commercial banks to embrace Bitt’s proposal to partner with them in introducing blockchain and distributed ledger technology to facilitate secure peer-to-peer transactions in moving money between clients.

In a call for Barbados to not be “stuck” in time, Barbados’ first female Prime Minster, Mia Amor Mottley, has stepped into the fray and announced her plans to launch a mMoney pilot programme. This pilot will be between Bitt, the Central Bank of Barbados and the Financial Service Commission (FSC) that facilitates electronic and digital payments for those on the island.

Mottley spoke at the annual conference which was held under the theme Central Bank Meets Blockchain: From the Ground Up, saying there was  a need for Barbados and Barbadians to bring an end to ‘this unfortunate debate and tension between those who want to hold onto a status quo and those who want to move forward’.

“Our people want digital money and …want the ease and security of electronic payments, and as a result, what must happen is face to face discussions with urgency…such that we can launch the Barbados mMoney Pilot,” she told those who had gathered for the conference.

Mottley also soothed the concerns of the commercial bankers about the new programme, after one of the bankers referred to the mMoney wallet as a ‘potential danger to the financial system’ claiming that she would be leading the program herself and that the legitimate concerns of this new payment method from all sides would be addressed as they were not going to launch this pilot project recklessly.

Mottley explained that Barbados would not be held to their old ways of banking due to the fear of the unknown, rather they would be looking to improve development because Barbados would not be left behind as the wider world continued to evolve.

News on when the planned mobile wallet pilot project would be  officially launched has yet to be presented, however Mottley assured that Barbados would remain in agreement with anti-money laundering laws and customer fairness guidelines.

Banning plastic straws: Only the first step

 

When I saw that haunting , viral YouTube video of the poor sea turtle with a plastic straw lodged in its nose, I shuddered.

When I witnessed a Good Samaritan prying the plastic out of the turtle’s nasal cavity, with a pliers no less, my brain and heart hurt.

I was ready to never touch another plastic product again and so it came as no real surprise to me when I saw the first headline touting the ban on plastic straws in America and around the globe.

Finally, the world was realizing just how much damage plastics were doing to marine life and to their communities.

And as the ban picked up steam and more companies and countries got on board, switching out their plastic straws for other variations such as  paper, pasta and even metal, I realized quickly that the focus was on the wrong thing.

It was not about just the plastic straws. That could only be the first step of many to come, if the marine and agricultural life was to continue to thrive.

The real problem with plastic pollution is not just the use of plastic products, but the mindless way in which they are disposed of as well as other trash items and the  harm that occurs as a result

While I am happy that this ban on the straws campaign has taken off, with so many seemingly understanding that their daily actions have far reaching consequences, I am left wondering if this will translate into a decisive progression into taking more responsibility for proper trash disposable strategies.

So while the ban on straws is an amazing start, the campaign must not stop there, rather more people will have to take responsibility for properly disposing of their trash, or risk further poisoning of the planet.

While plastics have had the most media headlines, due to it taking years upon years to break down and the immediate threat it poses to wild and marine life who are vulnerable to choking as they consume it or being entangled within it, other materials also pose a threat.

Trash items such as tires, steel rims and other man made products that are unceremoniously dumped into the oceans, unfortunately can end up in the stomachs of other fishes, sharks and whales.

The oceans are the life blood of the planet — not only do they provide the human population with employment, they also provide nourishment, secure borders and the oxygen needed to fuel all living creatures.

The increasing challenges of climate change, have given rise to more flooding of coastal communities and harsher hurricane seasons, along with less fishing opportunities as marine life seek out calmer waters.  All of these things impact the daily lives of the world.

It is for that reason, that the ban on plastic straws is a great start and it is my hope that this amazing campaign is the first proper step towards a global consciousness more inclined to use less harmful materials in products and to dispose of them in a non toxic way.

5 questions with Christopher Karas, the high schooler fighting his school over homophobia

 

Christopher Karas, a gay Mississauga high school student, is currently at the centre of a battle with his French Catholic school over what he calls homophobia. While he powers on in his fight for gay rights in the courtroom we caught up with him to chat about his views on the history of gay rights in Canada, funding for religious schools, helping young people get involved, and his own future beyond the halls of high school.

What is wrong with Queer and Trans rights in Canada right now?

Queer men (labelled as MSM) aren’t able to give blood in Canada. MSM is a moniker the Canadian government has used to distinguish men who have sex with other men from the general public. As if Queer men are different from our heterosexual counterparts. MSM also applies to women who have sex with men who had sex with other men. In Canada, MSM aren’t able to give blood if they had sex with their partner in the last 5 years. This discriminatory policy has been used to bar Trans people (especially Trans Women).

Trans people aren’t protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act or the Criminal Code. Close friend Susan Gapka is lobbying the Canadian government tirelessly to amend the Act and the Code to extend protections to Trans and Non-binary people across Canada, potentially adding Gender Identity and Gender Expression for the first time.

Intersex people aren’t part of today’s important conversations. Many of today’s conversations have focused on Trans people. While a focus on Trans people is needed and an important one, we must also have conversations that focus on Intersex people while centering #BlackLivesMatter, Brown and Indigenous people as part of these conversations. As we know, LGBTTIQQ2SA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Two Spirit, Asexual (Aces as we say!), and all those not yet included or who don’t want to be defined by any label) communities are Intersectional and always will be.

What have we gotten right since the Queer and Trans movement began?

When the Queer and Trans movement first began it wasn’t owned by any one person. This in itself is one of the movement’s greatest strengths. However, some have tried to co-opt our movement (i.e. Pride Toronto sponsorship, etc.)

Should the government be funding religious schools?

I think that it should be up to the people to have a debate in [upcoming elections]. We fundamentally protect the right of freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression yet we exclusively fund the Roman-Catholic school system while denying funding to freedom of conscience and religious schools. Although, I might be a bit biased. I sued my school board when my school barred me from putting up posters of my civil rights hero Harvey Milk and a Gender and Sexuality Alliance I tried to build with my peers.

 

Five reasons why the career focused woman should go on a work retreat

 

By Sinead Mulhern

For me, 2018 marks the year when I turned an idea that had been brewing for four years into a reality. The notion of travelling for months on end had become impossible to ignore so before the timing became hopelessly complicated, I left my life in Toronto and boarded a plane to Colombia. This wasn’t in the fashion of your classic quit-your-job-and-travel story, but rather, as a way to travel while moving forward with my career. Conversations around travel often hint at getting away from work but for me, a woman who enjoys her line of work, my travel experience will be the opposite.

I believe that spending time abroad to enhance work life is the way to go and, luckily, there are plenty of work-travel retreats that make the transition less daunting. In the era when working remotely from a laptop is becoming the norm, there are several options that allow workaholics to commit to travel knowing there are like-minded individuals waiting on the other side. Programs like Be Unsettled and Remote Year offer more temporary stays around the world whereas artist residency programs or co-working houses, like Roam and We Live, cater to digital nomads who want a longer-term fix. Interested in taking work abroad? Below, find a few reasons why a work-travel experience is the best way for women to explore in 2018.  

Your career won’t stagnate.

My will to explore the world is a big reason why I ended up pursuing a career in journalism. Like many, I don’t need to stay put in one place to build upon that career. Before I left, I built a stronger network of clients so that I could make my version of work-travel a reality. I’ve expanded the topics I write about as well as the places in which my writing is published. Contrary to the belief that one must stop working for a period of time in order to explore foreign regions, travel can actually open new doors – professionally speaking. In other words, it’s not an “either or” ultimatum.    

The environment fosters personal growth.

While the projects may bring joy, work life can be enhanced further by attending a work-travel retreat. Just like the travel companies that cater to those who want to escape the office for a couple weeks, there’s no shortage of folks who plan travel experiences for digital nomads, freelancers or entrepreneurs. Relocating to foreign territory kick-starts some much-needed personal growth – instilling more confidence and inner peace. This in turn impacts professional life in positive ways.

You set your schedule.

More and more in recent years, I had been itching to pack my bags, board a plane and travel for longer than the quick in-and-out experience that my vacation time from my office job afforded me. Like many, at times I also took issue with working the same hours every single day. By signing up for one or two months of a remote work-travel program (or custom designing your approach like I’m doing) laptop workers can maximize productivity by working during their most constructive hours. Full disclosure: be warned that this could come at a financial cost – at least in the beginning. Adjust expectations accordingly.

New vantage points lead to fresh ideas.

Part of the day can be spent at a desk with a beach view and part can be spent eating local cuisine. Getting away from the daily grind for a month or a year – whatever you choose – will provide a new perspective since everything from the people to the cultural norms are completely different. Because of this, working professionals are likely to tackle projects with new approaches and a fresh pair of eyes.

Getting out of the comfort zone lends well to making bold moves at work.

When spending time abroad, even completing the most basic tasks can seem like an accomplishment – especially if there’s a language barrier. When simply ordering lunch or navigating transit becomes difficult, the things that seem intimidating at work become much more doable by comparison.

 

Is all female travel the way to go?

By Sinead Mulhern

Of all my trips exploring Ontario cottage country, one particular weekend with my best girl friends stands out. Now that I’ve just left Canada, I’m sure I’ll value these memories even more in the months to come. The girls who I grew up with were – and continue to be – a boisterous, foolhardy crew and so when, in our early twenties, one of us suggested a canoe camping trip, the idea took hold. We crammed our gear into the truck, drove north, packed the essentials into two silver canoes and paddled through the waters of Pointe au Baril in Georgian Bay. That weekend, we chopped wood, built raging fires, constructed a tarp shelter to weather stormy hours and cracked cans of beer as we dipped our paddles into the bay, our battered muscles moving the canoe forward.

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Trips like this and others that followed lead me to strongly feel that all-female trips are an experience like no other. Whether travelling with a group of lifelong friends or meeting a pack of adventurous women halfway across the globe, the benefits of exploring with other women are not in short supply. Cement-strong bonds form fast when exploring unknown territory plus instances of everyday sexism are fewer. This in turn affords the space for female travellers to move confidently and develop necessary travel skills. There’s the fact too that some women simply prefer to travel in an all-female crowd.  

I’ve been lucky to have always had a band of lady friends eager to accompany me in my adventures. My crew from childhood also experienced not just cottage country but the nation’s capital, Toronto and Alabama. When I visited a friend in Brazil, I quickly became pals with her two best friends as we road tripped up the northeast coast for a beachy weekend. In 2016, a close friend and I flew south to see the third woman in our troop who had recently become a Colombian transplant. There, we chatted about relationships and early career goals and raided each other’s suitcases. We went to a Caribbean island laughing over boozy coconut cocktails by turquois shores and commiserating over sunburnt skin at night. These memories, to me, are priceless.

Not every woman with a case of wanderlust has an all-girl group on board. What then? Those curious about travelling the globe are spoiled in 2018 – not just for choice but for style of travel. If my personal experience sparks envy, know that many travel companies have stepped in to do the heavy lifting. If spending the next vacation abroad surrounded by a like-minded sisterhood sounds appealing, know that cementing plans is just a matter of finding the all-girls-club that fits.

WHOA Travel is one-such example in the sea of female travel groups. The boutique adventure company is founded by Allison Fleece and Danielle Thornton who stepped aside from their careers after an adventure in Kilimanjaro. They inspire women around the world to step outside of their comfort zones by booking one of their tours. Adventure Women is a company of a similar concept run for women by women. Its focus is to take other adventurous ladies on active trips for once-in-a-lifetime experience. Collectively its organizers have been to 65 countries. In other words: they know their stuff.

For the woman who craves solitude during the day with a little company later on, all-female hostels and hotels are a smart choice. Hostelle, for example, is a wise play on words “hostel” and “elle” to indicate that this place is for women and girls only. Started by Bianca Brasdorp, this Amsterdam abode is a comfortable zone for any woman – backpacker or business tripping nine-to-fiver – who finds herself in this corner of Europe. Closer to home, Canada’s capital also sets a positive example with Barefoot Hostel, a space which, since 2016, has been inviting to women of all ages and backgrounds. These are just a few. Whether a woman is looking for beach glamping or a rigorous trek, there’s an all-female crowd waiting. She just has to look.

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My friends and I packed up and canoed down the river well before dawn. We arrived home our feet black from going barefoot all weekend and our air-dried hair wavy and clinging to the smoky campfire smell. That trip was one for the books: I became closer with those girls and learned how to make a roaring fire. Since then, we’ve moved farther first to different cities and then countries. At the time, it was a simple long weekend away. Now that we’re dispersed, I think back on that trip as a cherished memory.