New Feminist Women’s Travel Magazine, Unearth Women, Takes Flight and Inspires Women to See the World
A new feminist travel magazine hit newsstands this past fall, Unearth Women, and it’s not like anything you’ve seen before.
The magazine is created and headed by New York-based travel editor and blogger Nikki Vargas, who has worked at Culture Trip and Food and Wine Magazine to name a couple.
She partnered up with travel maven Kelly Lewis, executive editor, and publisher Elise Fitzsimmons, publisher, to create Unearth Women.
Elise is a development professional from public radio in Colorado.
“Women are a force to be reckoned with in travel. Seventy percent of travel consumers are women. Women make up 85 percent of travel purchasing decisions,” Nikki told the New York Times, noting that tour companies, such as Intrepid Travel and REI are launching women-only tours in response to women travelers’ needs.”
However, in the travel media arena, she pointed out that “most travel publications are founded and/or edited by men” and there is a dearth of content and images of women, especially women of color, traveling.
“When you have travel content that addresses women and men the same, we feel there’s a missed opportunity there,” she said.
She gave the example that feminist icon Gloria Steinem, author and founder of Ms. Magazine, demonstrated in her essay about her two-year journey in India as a Western woman in the late 1950s after she graduated from Smith College and ditched her then-fiancé.
Gloria was able to shape shift and enter spaces many men cannot.
“She could be talking with the men, then in the next moment she could be in the kitchen and making Bengali sweets with the grandmothers,” Nikki told the Times.
“That’s an interesting thing that women bring to travel writing, that ability to access cultures on a deeper level because you’re able to connect with women, go into women-only spaces and get a deep feel for the culture that sometimes men cannot,” she said. “Women bring a certain level of accessibility and compassion to their writing.”
“Whether it’s the motorcycle-riding ladies of India challenging gender norms or the collective of female artisans in Nicaragua fighting against the patriarchy … Unearth magazine will unearth female-led stories from around the world.”
At the same time, the women’s goal is to “celebrate the work of female writers and photographers” in print and digital media.
Elise agreed, adding, “We realized there was nothing on the market and the void needed to be filled,” she told Travel and Leisure Magazine.
The New York-based magazine launched in the fall of 2018 with its “Resilience” issue powered by seven staff members and one intern.
The magazine touts that it’s the first women’s travel magazine for women, by women, completely dismissing Travel Girl Magazine and Curve Magazine. Travel Girl is celebrating its 17-year anniversary this month. Curve is a lesbian magazine that has a whole section devoted to queer women’s travel that’s been hitting newsstands for nearly 30-years. Both magazines are all-women founded and operated.
The magazine covers women’s travel, but it goes beyond the traditional “where to go” and “what to do.” Don’t worry, it delivers cool stuff to do in various destinations in its women-supporting-women travel guides, but it also introduces women travelers to women they’ve haven’t heard of before and explore women’s issues around the world.
“It’s about not just acknowledging a place for what it is. Instead, these guides allow people to really take a moment and read about the historical and cultural importance of the women who are in that place along with their current needs, desires, and concerns. And through this, travelers can hopefully interact with them in a way that is more meaningful,” Elise told T+L.
Currently, women can find guides for more than 20 destinations as far- flung as Muscat, Oman to as close as Portland, Oregon on Unearth Women’s website.
Unearth Women appears to aim to give women a National Geographic-style á la Anthony Bourdain curated deep dive into a destination type travel magazine that is empowering women more than that all-girl spa getaway being touted in other women’s travel magazines.
In this magazine, women travel to Africa to learn how technology is empowering women and how women are saving the rhinos to how women are supporting refugees in Northern France … and that’s just the beginning.
The magazine also highlights women who are breaking barriers, such as the women chefs who are redefining Philadelphia’s culinary scene, and crossing borders, such as Jessica Nabongo, who is on a mission to be the first black woman to traverse the globe – that’s right, all 195 countries – and Eva Zu Beck, who is promoting women’s tourism to Pakistan, just to name a couple.
“Travel ultimately should be a vehicle to larger issues because when you travel, you’re connecting to another culture. As part of connecting to that local culture, you take the good with the bad,” said Nikki. “If you’re visiting a place like Colombia, yes, they have beautiful beaches and great food and it’s biodiverse, but if you go and completely leave out anything going on in terms of politics and history, you’re completely missing out.
“I think the travel industry has a very rainbow-colored view of traveling. We’re trying to get to the realness of travel, and that’s the good and bad and that’s beauty in the hard parts of travel,” she continued saying that “travel will always be a touchstone” for her.
“Whenever things are complicated, I can go back to basics and find myself. These moments in my life where I don’t know what to do, I’m able to step outside of my life,” she told the Times. “I realize that is a luxury that’s not afforded by everyone. But I will say that whether it’s flying across the world to India or simply taking a day trip to just be in nature, I think there’s a real power in allowing yourself to step outside of routine and your comfort zone and just be with your own thoughts.
“Travel will always be a very restorative thing.”
The magazine will be published quarterly with subscriptions costing nearly $35 a year.
To check out the magazine, visit www.unearthwomen.com.