Six Immersive Experiences that Empower Women

By Kelley Louise

What do a cooking class in the Brazilian Amazon, a walking tour in Paris and a diving expedition in Japan all have in common? These travel experiences are not only dynamic – they’re also innovative examples of how tourism can act as a force to empower women.

How Travel Empowers Women

Studies show that when you invest in women, they reinvest up to 90% of their income back into their families and communities – which means that empowering women acts as a catalyst to create long-term benefits for all individuals.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’ve rounded up a collection of 20+ travel experiences that empower women. Learn from master artisans, stay in unique guesthouses and ecolodges, adventure to some of the world's most stunning natural wonders and more – all with women-owned businesses, expert female guides and women's groups committed to sharing incredible travel.

Below, some of our favorite experiences to inspire your wanderlust:

Discover Secrets and Spices of the Amazon

Venture down to the Amazon with a three-day tour with our local partners at Vivejar Tours where you’ll immerse yourself in Brazilian culture through a food-focused experience. Highlights include exploring Ver o Peso Market, where you’ll find the largest variety of regional products, watching the sunset at Estação das Docas, located on the banks of the Guajara river bay, and hiking through the Amazon rainforest. Throughout the trip, women from the Belém Islands Women’s Movement will share their day-to-day routines with you, offering a glimpse into their traditions behind artisanal jewelry, local food and culture.

Did we pique your interest? Enter before April 1st to win a $4k prize package, which includes the Brazilian tour package, plus some other amazing prizes.

Learn more about the Women of Paris

For the traveler looking for the lesser-told stories from history lessons, look no further than the Women of Paris walking tours in France – a series of tours which focus on women’s historical influence in Paris. While in the City of Love, take a stroll through the charming streets of the Left Bank, passing landmarks such as the Panthéon, the Jardins de Luxembourg and the wonderfully chic Saint-Germain-des-Prés district – unravelling stories of incredible women at every turn. And of course, there will be a stop at one of the city’s finest bakeries somewhere along the way… we’re in Paris after all! Oui, you can count us in.

Learn more about the Women of Paris Essential Walk.

Immersive Andean Weaving Excursion

Escape to the breathtaking Andean mountains and learn about local culture, art and food through female owned and operated community programs. Our three-day experience is run by our local partners Awamaki, a nonprofit that works to create economic opportunities and empower local Andean women. By connecting local Andean weavers with travelers, their tourism experiences empower women and girls with education and financial independence. And of course, the experiences are not to be missed – the tour focuses on learning about the techniques behind artisanal weaving, hiking to glacial lakes and meeting with locals. But don’t just take our word for it – you can get the full scoop on the tour in our explorer Kevin’s article on his blog, Landscapes on the Run.

Learn more about the Immersive Andean Weaving Excursion.

Take an Ahka Cooking Class in Thailand

One of the best souvenirs we can imagine is the ability to cook a meal that you learned from your travels. In Chiang Mai, you can learn not one, but eleven dishes, in a half-day immersive cooking class with Thai Akha Cooking School. You’ll start your day with a tour of the local market – learning about each of the ingredients and how to pick the freshest ones – and then you’ll spend your afternoon in a traditional outdoor kitchen cooking a feast with new-found friends. Unlike many cooking classes where you simply observe a lesson, the tour is a hands-on experience where you’ll manage your own station.

The tour is the first and only cooking school run by the Akha people, a group of Thai citizens who immigrated to Thailand in the 1900s through China, Myanmar and Laos. Akha people have their own traditions, cultures and beliefs, and investing in their cooking classes gives them an opportunity to tell their story, as well as preserve traditions. The Thai Akha cooking school was is founded and run by an Akha woman, Niti, and so your tourism dollars go directly toward supporting a woman + ethnic minority run business.

Learn more about the Akha Cooking Market Tour.

Go on a Walking Tour in Rwanda

Explore one of Kigali’s oldest neighborhoods with our local partners from Nyamirambo Women's Center, a Rwandan NGO aimed at addressing gender-based violence, gender inequality and discrimination. The nonprofit trains and employs more than 50 local women to create a variety of accessories, clothing and home decor products – and travelers can learn more about their projects through tours that offer uniquely personal insights into everyday life.

Your tour begins with a quick lesson on Kinyarwanda, a local dialect, and then takes you through the streets of Nyamirambo, where you’ll meet locals and learn about their community. Visit a women’s hairdressing salon (and for the beauty-savvy, get a free braid), learn how to pound cassava leaves, get the inside track to find the best lookout and more. You’ll wrap your day by breaking bread through a traditional lunch made and served in the home of Aminatha, a NWC’s best cook.

Learn more about the walking tour of Nyamirambo.

Meet Japan's Legendary Ama Women Divers

The Japanese Ama diver tradition is as old as 2,000 years, and is a group of mostly female divers who are famous for collecting pearls – who venture into the depths of the ocean without scuba gear or air tanks. Through our local partners at Kaito Yumin Club, we’ll hook you up with a full day tour to spend the day with these unapologetically cool female divers for an excursion to Mikimoto Pearl Island. You’ll be able to watch the women at work as they free dive for pearls, and then visit the Mikimoto Pearl Museum to learn about pearl culture, as well as explore Osatsu Ama village and visit Ishigami shrine, a shrine dedicated to women's wishes.

Learn more about our tour for a day with legendary Ama women divers.

"Trips that Empower Women" Collection

These experiences around the world are each unique – but are tied together by their mission to empower and celebrate women through travel. Ready to adventure? Check out our full list of travel experiences that empower women.

Kelley Louise

She's the Marketing Maven at Lokal and a travel entrepreneur passionate about storytelling and social good - you can find more from Kelley over at The Culture Collective and Impact Travel Alliance where she's working to transform the travel industry.