Nikki Vargas, the founding editor of Unearth Women, a women's travel publication and co-author of the recently-published Wanderess, “a travel book dedicated to helping people travel smarter while showing them how to support and connect with women globally,” recently spoke with TriplePundit about the intersection between women, travel and sustainability. We also asked Vargas about Unearth Women’s popular feminist city guides.
TriplePundit: What is Unearth Women’s Mission, and what does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Nikki Vargas: The mission of Unearth Women is to celebrate the cultural, social, and political achievements of women, while showing travelers how to support women wherever they go. International Women’s Day is right in line with our goals as a publication to empower women. Plus, any day that asks the world to stop and appreciate the impact women have — and continue to have — on society is a day I fully support!
3p: When was Unearth Women founded and how has it grown since then?
Initially, Unearth Women started as a print publication that we were able to scale from a self-sold magazine to an internationally-sold magazine in bookstores across the country. After a handful of issues, we pivoted to a digital-only publication where we continue to focus on telling women's stories and showing travelers how best to support women worldwide. Our latest endeavor is the release of our new women’s travel book, Wanderess, which was published this year by Penguin Random House.
3p: Why did you decide to create a publication tailored to women-specific travel?
Vargas: I had been working in the travel industry as a travel editor and noticed that the content in travel media seemed to always skew male-driven. Most publications I worked at were founded by men, most articles assigned to writers were being assigned by men and most travel stories were being written from a male perspective.
Of course, travel is not a one-size-fits all experience and the nuances of traveling as a woman, a person of color, LGBTQ+, or as someone with disabilities varies drastically from the experience of traveling as a straight white man.
I had always harbored this desire to create my own travel publication where I could combine my passion for travel with my love of spotlighting women’s stories. Unearth Women was the result of those combined passions and sought to fill a clear gap in the media landscape.
3p: What impact have you seen Unearth Women generate, and what feedback do readers give you on its unique focus?
Vargas: I have certainly seen a rise in traffic and readership that shows me that the content we are creating has found an audience. I think readers (and freelance writers) are happy to find a platform that champions women’s stories, focuses on women’s travel, and shares curated guides pointing travelers in the direction of women-owned businesses.
3p: In your opinion, what role do women around the world play in ensuring travel remains sustainable, both economically and environmentally?
Vargas: To me, traveling sustainably and responsibly means simply being mindful of my individual impact on the cultural, social, political, and environmental aspects of a destination.
How we choose to spend our money can mark the difference between stimulating the local economy and supporting female entrepreneurs or lining the pockets of big business. As travelers, we have a massive impact on the environment and a responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint.
Thankfully, the industry is responding in kind with ways to minimize carbon emissions with calculators to offset flight carbon emissions and a rise of travel that doesn’t involve flying.
3p: Why did you find it important to launch the feminist city guides?
Vargas: Our Feminist City Guides point travelers in the direction of women- and BIPOC-owned businesses worldwide. These guides are, by far, our most popular content and do a great job of offering travelers an alternative guide to cities they know and love.
Whether you’re visiting New York or solo traveling in Buenos Aires, our guides show you hotels, stores and restaurants that are women-owned, as well as speak to the historical impact of women in those locations.
3p: What are the most compelling examples you’ve seen of women feeling empowered by travel and tourism?
Vargas: I think the rise of women-led trips and women-only tours, such as those offered by Intrepid Travel, are really awesome to see. These trips not only connect women to other female travelers, but they are creating job opportunities for female tour guides in countries — like Iran — where it is largely a male-dominated space.
3p: In your experience, what is the most effective way to support women-owned businesses?
Vargas: Simply put, if you want to support women, shop women-owned.
Image credit: Shai Pal via Unsplash
Chloé is a content marketer and storyteller in the sustainability, SaaS, and education fields. From NYC and based in Odense, Denmark, she is a foodie and frequent traveler most likely to be found in a café. She writes about coffee, food waste, sustainability innovation, and environmental conservation.