The Scoop: More than two-thirds of travelers are women, but not many blogs or online travel guides focus on their needs. Those needs may include information on how safe a country is or what its cultural expectations are for women. These are the types of questions Beth Santos set out to answer through Wanderful, the platform she founded to help traveling women. Wanderful has grown into a comprehensive travel company that plans group trips, creates local travel groups, and develops online and in-person events. With a Wanderful membership, women travelers, including singles, can find camaraderie and share ideas with like-minded people.
A woman interested in international travel booked a trip to India through Wanderful, an online platform that plans group travel experiences exclusively for women. But, as the trip grew closer, her husband died.
After some soul searching, the woman decided to go on the trip anyway, but she worried about grieving her loss the entire time.
“She let everyone know that her husband passed away three months prior. The trip was supposed to be fun for her, but now she was grieving. She even packed her suitcase with comfort food from home,” said Beth Santos, Wanderful Founder and CEO.
Nevertheless, the grieving widow saw a change in herself during the trip. She said she felt supported by the 12 other women traveling with her, none of whom she’d met before. She started enjoying herself and relishing the experience instead.
“It’s amazing to hear about the community of women who’ve never met, but still give each other so much support,” said Beth.
That kind of support has made Wanderful into the thriving community it is today. While more women than men are interested in travel, they often find fewer resources that speak to their unique experiences.
Beth designed Wanderful to fill that need. Not only does it help women plan trips, but it also provides resources for those traveling domestically and abroad. For instance, if a woman wanted to take an international trip, she could seek out a Wanderful member living in that country willing to take her out for coffee or even offer a spare room.
Wanderful has expanded to include national events, local chapters, and a blog focused on women.
Building a Community of Traveling Women
Beth, an avid traveler herself, started Wanderful as a blog when she was solo traveling in her early 20s. She was venturing through a country called Sao Tome and Principe off the west coast of Africa and noticed that many of the places she visited didn’t have much of a tourist industry.
“It taught me what it was like to be a woman in different countries. Depending on where we go, we have different experiences,” Beth said.
A lot of the travel materials she found didn’t address the experience of women in these places. Instead, most travel blogs and guidebooks were geared toward men. Some women also found information that made them too nervous to travel alone.
“Whether it was information about cultural norms, dress expectations, or safety, I realized that it was difficult to find that kind of coverage,” Beth said.
Wanderful offers information and attracts women of all ages, ethnicities, and national origins who love solo travel. The platform’s two most significant demographics are women ages 25 to 35, and those between 55 and 65.
But Beth said one thing that many members have in common is that they have experienced a significant life event, like the widow who took a Wanderful trip to India.
“We have many women who just ended a relationship. They’re thinking to themselves, ‘I don’t want to wait for anybody anymore.’ We have other women who are widowed, who say similar things,” Beth said.
These women find community with each other — both online and in the many local Wanderful chapters around the world. Members not only find advice for traveling solo but can also opt into small group trips hosted by Wanderful.
“It’s amazing to create a community around the world who can help others, and we’re helping more women travel around the world,” Beth said.
Helping Clients Plan Events and Trips
Though many of the women on Wanderful say they appreciate solo travel, the platform caters to other types of users, too. One is travelers who want to make connections and discover ideas for their next trips. Content creators and small business owners working in the travel industry are also represented on the site.
Wanderful offers two membership levels. Traveler members gain access to a portal where they can find women to connect with around the world. Creator members have access to the company’s coaching staff who can help them build their brand online.
“Wanderful gives me an opportunity to connect with other women travelers I know I can trust. I can turn to them for travel advice, recommendations, places to stay, or even cups of tea. I love that, no matter where I go, I can connect with other women around the world,” one woman from London wrote about her membership.
Wanderful members can also get involved with the regular events the company hosts.
“While our focus was on in-person events, we are doing a lot more virtual events this year, especially due to Covid-19,” Beth said.
Many of the events that Wanderful plans are trips for adventurous travelers. For instance, the company had a June and July trip planned for Bali and Flores, islands in western Indonesia. In 2023, the company is planning a cruise to Antarctica with more than 100 other women.
The Wanderful team said it hopes the global Covid-19 pandemic has eased by then, and that the trip will still take place.
In the meantime, travelers can explore Wanderful’s extensive blog archive, which covers meaningful topics, including health and wellness tips and the customs in particular cities or regions.
Wanderful Supports Women Who Love Exploring
Though Covid-19 has put a halt to many travel plans, especially international excursions, the Wanderful community hasn’t slowed down. Many women there dream about their next trips or share past travel experiences. Members also reminisce about their favorite trips and share their ideas so others can follow their lead.
“During quarantine, women have been looking to remember their excursions,” Beth said.
Other members are teaching and learning travel skills, including languages.
“During quarantine, we’ve been hosting activities every day. Our Mexico City chapter is doing a weekly Spanish language circle to help women build their skills,” Beth says.
Wanderful hosts virtual events to connect travel influencers and travelers. One of these is the Wanderful Woman Summit, where women can get ideas about safe travel during quarantine. As with other events, the Wanderful Woman Summit includes travel experts who are women of color and can lead discussions about travel and intersectionality.
“The future for us is these online activities where we can bring people together even if we’re not in person,” Beth said.
When travel restrictions are lifted, Beth said that Wanderful members will remember how important travel is to them — and have more creative ideas about where to go.
“I believe that travel is a force for change in the world. It creates meaningful connections that lead to world peace. When we can understand people’s worlds and what their lives are like, it makes the world better,” she said.