I spent the weekend of May 4-6 at the Fairmount Château Frontenac in Québec City to attend the 2018 Women In Travel Summit (WITS – organized by Wanderful). Picture that: over 400 women evolving in the travel sphere – mostly bloggers & influencers – gathered in the most photographed hotel in the world… We were all there to take the pulse of the industry, its current and upcoming trends. Afterwards, I realized that the meeting and exchange is also an essential part of WITS.
Beyond the sessions, keynotes and mingling, I couldn’t help but sense a strong feeling of belonging. The whole weekend felt like a gathering of a sisterhood of traveling ladies. And, in this group of truly inspiring women, many plus-size women like me. Needless to say, this strengthened my impression of being in a place where I was welcome, whatever my body looked like!
A Chance To Finally Meet…
The idea of being in a group of hundreds of female travelers in the heart of Québec City was quite promising! Add to that that I was meeting with some of the bloggers I’ve been following and exchanging messages with for months in some cases… I had all the reasons in the world to be overjoyed to attend my first WITS!
I had a long-time “date” planned with fellow plus-size traveler Annette Richmond (creator of Fat Girls Traveling) and it didn’t disappoint… We actually spent most of the welcome cocktail party together celebrating her birthday!
I have to say, I did get a couple of women crush during the WITS weekend…! Queer activist Ariel Goldberg (Deputy Digital Director of Lambda Legal) and Danny Rivers-Mitchell (founder of Black Girls Travel Too) are two of the most generous, caring and galvanizing women I met in the past few years!
During these few days of learning and networking, I attended many sessions and panels. Everything (or nearly) was covered, from travel trends to how to monetize a blog. Three of these sessions particularly got my attention…
The Emerging Wellness Travel Trend and What It Means for Influencers
Everyone can use a little “me time” to get away from the stress of the daily routine. Plus-size women live with the extra pressure of not “conforming” to the body standards promoted around us. In a nutshell, I got into that session to try to see if “plus-size wellness” could become “a thing”. (Hint: I totally think so! And I have so many ideas now!)
Global Communities that are Smashing Stereotypes Faced by Diverse Women Travelers Panel
I was super excited to see that they included a traveler of size in that panel. Even more stoked since it was Annette Richmond from Fat Girls Traveling! (FYI: she did a great job of advocating for us!) Danny Rivers-Mitchell’s (Black Girls Travel Too) accounting of her experiences with discrimination gave me the chills. One thing is for sure: through her messages, she teaches an important lesson in courage in front of adversity. The panel also included Glory Ali (Muslim Travel Rocks) and was moderated by Olga Maria Czarkowski (Dreams in Heels, Latinas Who Travel).
Indigenous Tourism and the Ethical Role of Influencers
Too often, in the mass media and travel blogs, Indigenous and Aboriginals communities are depicted in a way that re-enforces the stereotypes associated with them. It’s a reality that the First Nations, Metis and Inuit people too often have to deal with. Dené Sinclair’s (Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada) presentation gave advice, both important and interesting, on that matter. (Though mostly based on the reality of the communities, located in Canada, most of her recommendations could apply to Indigenous / Aboriginal communities across the world…)
So much more I can’t tell you about… yet.
A million ideas came to me as I sat through the different presentations of the Women In Travel Summit. (I swear. A million…! I’m barely exagerating…!) I came back home so inspired and with a head full of projects… but sadly, it’s still a bit early to share. (Yes, I know. Not cool… Sorry!) Why do I write about it then? Because I wanted to tip you that there could be quite revolutionary stuff coming your way. (Revolutionary. Nothing less. Stay tuned for more!)
Destination: Women In Travel Summit ’19 !
As I proofread this post, I’d love to find better words to describe the atmosphere of the Women in Travel Summit. How fantastic it was to be there, with hundreds of women who succeeded in the travel industry (or aspire to). I’ll tell you this: my first experience was absolutely thrilling, on top of being way beyond my expectations! There is something incredibly “addictive” to the feeling I get from this kind of events…! I can already tell I will need my fix by next spring!
The 2019 edition of WITS will take place on May 3-5, in Portland, Maine. I can already tell I want to go!