Women Overlanding the World began as a Facebook group where traveling women could congregate for information and community related to all things overlanding. After the first year, they had grown to an active group of over 1,600 members around the world.
They started to realised that they had created something amazing and that something exciting was happening in the space.
“Women were no longer listening to messages that say “you can’t” or “you won’t.” They are refusing to stay quiet in the predominantly male worlds of overlanding, off-roading and exploration. Women are out on the road. They are going where they want to go. They have expertise and knowledge. They are defining their own lives and redefining their own limits.”
Women overlanding hopes that the group, the website, the book, the meet ups and overland retreats will serve as a source of inspiration, and be a catalyst for you to have courage as you start your overlanding journey.
During the podcast we speak with the 4 founders: Sunny Eaton, Karin Balsley, Taylor Pawley, Ashley Giordano.
Sunny Eaton is a criminal defense attorney and social marketing manager who travels with her wife, Karin Balsley, as the Vagabroads. Sunny’s mother is the original Vagabroad and introduced her to travel at an early age. She went to high school in Germany, and after college had planned a round-the-world trip, starting with a trek from Istanbul to Cairo. She bought a plane ticket, gave notice at work – and a week later, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred. Parts of the world were no longer safe for Americans, and the whole world seemed much scarier. She cancelled her ticket, retracted her notice, and put that trip on a tall pile of "some days". A few years later, she realized that when you look back at a year in your life and can’t distinguish one day from the next, it’s time to make a change. Within a year, they had sold everything, quit their jobs and headed south in their ’97 Toyota FZJ80 Land Cruiser with their dog, Gracie.
Karin Balsley is a systems architect who grew up in Franklin, Tennessee. She got into the offroading community at the young age of 15 when she bought her first 1978 Jeep CJ-5. Since then she's owned and rebuilt 6 jeeps and is currently building a Jeep Scrambler. She's always loved cars and enjoys seeing what they are capable of. Recently her and her wife, Sunny, decided to sell everything they owned and buy a 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser. They built it out over six months and hit the road with their dog, Gracie, in November 2015. They traveled for two years throughout Mexico and Central America. They enjoyed it so much that they turned around and drove the same route home instead of shipping the car. Afterwards they traversed the United States, east to west and south to north, stopping in Canada along the way. Future plans include overlanding throughout South America and traveling via motorcycle across Southeast Asia.
Taylor Pawley grew up in Eastern Oregon on a cattle ranch where hiking, fishing, hunting, and off-roading were just a normal everyday activity. But travel was the thing that really called to her. She married her high-school sweetheart at the young age of 19 and together they traveled across the Mediterranean on a 10-day cruise, backpacked through Uganda, and rented a Hi-Lux to chase desert elephants through Namibia. When it came time to choose between settling down and starting a family, or being kids themselves a little longer, they chose to sell their house and everything they owned and travel the Pan-American Highway. She also took the opportunity to compete in the inaugural Rebelle Rally, an all-women’s navigation rally, and took second place out of 36 teams. Taylor’s Pan-Am journey ended in Uruguay in 2018 when she and KP decided to split amicably, but she has continued to travel on her own as often as possible, with plans to complete the remaining part of the Pan-Am journey solo someday as well as a trek through Africa.
Ashley Giordano recently (okay, 3 years ago) completed a 48,800km overland journey from Vancouver, Canada to Buenos Aires, Argentina with her husband Richard in their well-loved but antiquated Toyota Pickup. On the zig-zag route south they hiked craggy peaks in the Andes, discovered diverse cultures in 15 different countries, and filled their tummies with spicy ceviche, Baja fish tacos and Argentinian Malbec. You can usually find Ashley buried in a pile of travel books, pouring over maps, or researching wild medicinal herbs. Ashley grew up in Kelowna, BC, Canada, and spent most of her time training as a competitive figure skater. She worked in Vancouver, BC as a Paralegal for eight years while completing a Diploma in Holistic Nutrition. She is currently studying herbal medicine with a focus on women’s health.
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Getting introductions from Taylor, Ashley, Karin and Sunny
How everyone knows each other - the power of social media!
How connected the overland community is and the power of Facebook Groups
How to manage your period on the road
The need to have specific space for women to connect
How groups on line can become a lifeline for travellers
Let’s talk about periods!
Advice and top tips for being on the road and having your period
Tampons, pads, Dixie Cups?
Pain management and comfort management
Stocking up in major cities and having a stock box
The biggest challenge they needed to overcome to start on their journey
Being terrified of Mexico
Deciding to quit her job and leave everything behind
Struggling with the lack of purpose and a lack of routine
Money and financing the trip
Having start over money
Being high maintenance girls
Enjoying the local drinks!
The realities of how far you can make your money go
Budgeting and understanding where your money goes
Van lifers verses the overland community
Spending money on crap and stuff that wasn’t making us happy
Learning a cheaper way to live and why it is cheaper on the road
Magical moments on the road
Learning how and when to say yes more
The freedom to see these amazing places
The unplanned and random situations!
Advice and top tips
Trust other people who have done what you are doing
START!!! Make a list and START!
Bring lots of underwear!
Be ok with making the trip about you
Facebook groups and what a great resource it was
The book : I Can. I Will: Women Overlanding the World
How an idea became a reality in 24 hrs
I’m older can I do this?
Website - www.womenoverlandingtheworld.com
Facebook Group - @womenoverlandingtheworld
Instagram - @womenoverlandingtheworld
Instagram - @wowoverlandretreats
Twitter - @womenoverland
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