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Meet the 2023
The Women’s Travel Fest | March 3-5, 2023
Founder, Travel Fashion Girl
Alex is the founder of Travel Fashion Girl. For over 10 years, it has helped women travel carryon only in a stylish and efficient way. TFG empowers female travelers with the confidence to live fearlessly, embrace style, and collect moments, not things.
Alex is also a frequent guest on podcasts and a conference speaker and was recently the closing keynote speaker at the Women’s Travel Fest in March 2020.
She has been featured in national news outlets; including the New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Oprah, the New York Post, the Daily Mail, Reader’s Digest, Forbes, USA Today, and live on the Fox & Friends Morning Show.
Alice Min Soo Chun
As a little girl growing up in Seoul, Korea and then upstate New York, Alice spent many days learning how a simple fold can become structured. Origami forms were taught to her by her mother, who also taught Alice how to sew her own clothes.
Always creative, fascinated by design, structure and forms, Alice studied architecture at Penn State where she obtained her undergraduate degree and went on to earn her Masters in Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania.
With emerging trends in material technology resulting in smarter, lighter, faster, sustainable fabrication, Alice started to sew solar panels to fabric as early experiments for harnessing solar energy with softer, malleable material. She became focused on solar technology and finding ways to create clean energy solutions upon learning her son Quinn was diagnosed with asthma.
While teaching as a Professor in Architecture and Material Technology at Columbia University, Alice created early prototypes of solar lights with her students. Fueled by her passion for helping the underserved, Alice invented the world’s only self-inflatable, portable origami solar light, eliminating the need for a mouth nozzle. This ensured a healthy, sanitary method to inflate. Alice named this invention the SolarPuff™ and conducted three years of field testing in Haiti.
In 2015 she launched Solight Design and initiated a KickStarter program with unprecedented results. She went on to win numerous awards including the US Patent Award for Humanity and her products have been exhibited at MOMA, the Modern Museum of Art in New York City.
Dear Alyne is a personality with over 3.6+ Million followers across all social media platforms.
She has traveled to over 90+ countries, making content ranging from world travel, social issues, lesser known countries to human rights, vegetarianism and much more!
She enjoys running “Dear Alyne Retreats”, week-long camps dedicated to nurturing the talents of aspiring female creators and entrepreneurs.
Dear Alyne has also worked and collaborated with amazing brands like: The United Nations, Microsoft, Facebook, Etihad, and Coca-Cola!
In Search of Traveler
After losing her job, Ashley McCurdy got rid of her expensive Southern California apartment to travel the world and live in hotels (usually Marriott) full-time and vlog about her experiences on her YouTube channel, In Search of Traveler.
Ashley caught the internet’s attention in 2020 by staying 103 nights at Marriott properties for $4356, which includes properties like the Ritz Carlton in Cancun & W in Midtown Atlanta.
Join Ashley as she takes a walk down memory lane and shares the strategies she used over the past two years which have allowed her to travel, eat, explore, and live in hotels full-time for $500/week.
Ashley Gets Around
Ashley Peterson is a full time traveler and content creator who’s visited over 90 countries on 6 contients. She is the face behind Ashley Gets Around, a popular Instagram about her travels and travel hacking. She is a huge AVgeek who flies about 200,000 miles per year. She owns and runs the only woman owned subscription service for business class flight deals. Ashley is passionate about helping women travel more luxuriously for less.
Ashley is also the co-founder of a boutique tour company, Wild Air Travel, which does bespoke small tours to some of Ashley’s favorite
She has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, the Today Show, Washington Post, and Miami Herald.
Calen Ann Otto is a queer, anti-speciesist travel blogger who explores the big wide world on a very small budget. After completing a solo trip across the USA at the age of 19 with only $300 and a bike, Calen discovered that there are so many alternative ways to travel that cost less.
Inspired by their love of meeting strangers and sharing their incredible stories, Calen created the Unruly Travel blog. There they share photos, videos, articles, and podcast episodes from their unique travels in hopes to inspire others to get out and grow.
Calen has been to 5 continents, 35 states, 20 National Parks, and more than 20 countries as a vegan and is passionate about doing the least amount of harm wherever they go. They wrote and published ‘The Art Of Unruly Travel On A Budget’ travel guide book to make travel more accessible to all.
An entrepreneur for over 30 years, Carolyn is the CEO of JourneyWoman, the world’s first solo travel publication for women, established in 1994. With a global audience of over 60,000 subscribers, JourneyWoman empowers women to live the life of their dreams (as she is) by sharing first-hand travel tips and also provides women with the world’s largest directory of women-friendly trips.
She is the incoming Chair for the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) in Canada, and a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the Travel Media Association of Canada. Trained as a CTI Co-active Coach, she actively mentors emerging leaders and supports female entrepreneurs as a SheEO Activator and is ranked as one of Canada’s top 100 female entrepreneurs on the PROFIT/ Chatelaine W100 list.
Heart of Travel
Chelsea was born and raised in California and first began studying Spanish at the age of 19 while living in Guatemala and working in the tourism industry for three years before returning to California to continue her academic career.
After more than a decade immersed in the language, along with her post-graduate studies in Spanish at CSU Sacramento, Chelsea is a fluent Spanish speaker and experienced language instructor. From 2012 to 2016, Chelsea worked in both tourism and language education (Spanish and ESL) while pursuing her M.A. in Spanish before moving back full time to Guatemala in 2017 to start Heart of Travel with business partner Ana Castillo. Her own experience learning Spanish helps us provide you with the best tips and tricks to master the language.
Chelsea is passionate about responsible and sustainable travel practices and believes in the power of travel to improve local economies and break down barriers. Through travel and Spanish language education, Chelsea and her team hope to share a more comprehensive insight into Latin America and to change the often negative narrative regarding Latin America and immigration. When she’s not working, Chelsea is happy being a mom, partner, animal lover, reader, writer, and gardener!
Host, The Thought Card
Danielle Desir Corbett is a podcast marketing coach passionate about helping podcasters strategically grow their audiences and monetize through affiliate marketing, brand deals, and sponsorships.
Podcasting since 2018, Danielle is also the host of The Thought Card, a 4x grant-funded affordable luxury travel and personal finance podcast empowering financially savvy travelers to travel more, build wealth, and live on their terms.
Pack Light Global
Dawn Booker is a fearless traveler and culture curator who inspires women of color over 40 to “pack light” and to see the world. Many women create amazing lives and careers that are on point in every way. However, on the path to creating these happy families, marriages and careers women often set aside their “inner explorer” to affirm and honor the many commitments to others. Realizing this in her own life, in her mid-40s Dawn moved to Paris to pursue an MA in Global Communications at the American University in Paris and returned to North Carolina transformed and committed to a life that honors her desire to see the world.
Through her global experiential travel business, Pack Light Global, Dawn hopes to inspire and connect women of color who would love to travel internationally. “I share my favorite destinations, what I have discovered about myself through travel and reveal practical tips and advice that will help you make that first trip, or the next trip to a dream destination, fearlessly.”
So yes, life is short, but it is also wide so Travel fearless and Pack light.
Deidre Mathis is a hotelier, author, and world traveler. She is the Founder of Wanderstay Hospitality Group, a hybrid hospitality brand. The first location, Wanderstay Houston Hostel, opened summer of 2018 in Houston, TX, and offers themed private and shared accommodations. The 2nd location, a boutique hotel, will open in early 2023. Mathis is the first Black woman to own a hostel in the United States. Mathis is also the Director of the Wander Abroad Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) organization that provides passports and short-term study abroad programs to college students.
Having traveled to over 46 countries on all 7 continents, she fell in love with the instant community and cultural diversity boutique accommodations provided. She wanted to bring that same experience stateside, and thus the concept of Wanderstay was born.
She included many of her travel experiences in her book, “Wanderlust: For the Young, Broke Professional.”
After a career as a dancer and actress, Diana Eden spent 30 years in Hollywood, costume designing prime time television series, soap operas, movies for TV, and feature films, Eden received three Emmy nominations for her work.
Following “retirement” at 68, Eden continued designing films, teaching, and writing her memoir “Stars in Their Underwear” which covers her interaction with some of Broadway and Hollywood’s biggest stars. When not doing all these things, she is traveling! She has been published on Journeywoman.com, CostumeDesignersGuild.com, Pivotdancer.com, The Huffington Post and The International Womens Writers Guild’s magazine Network. (possible cut? Trips she has taken since turning 80 in May 2020 include an African safari, a Moroccan Food Adventure Tour, and destinations Iceland, USVI, and France, with Bora Bora and Italy on the calendar for later this year.)
The Nomadic Network
Erica Virvo is a purposeful traveler and connector, who loves the thrill of living in countries people have rarely heard of. She’s spent 5 years studying and working in obscure countries in the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean, and Africa. While she loves visiting the frequented tourist spots like everyone else, the memories Erica has treasured the most are the everyday experiences she participated in with friends she’s found along the way. Through these connections and ordinary activities, Erica gained a deeper appreciation for the world and people in it.
Erica has a BFA in Interior Design. However, she has never worked as an Interior Designer and has completely built her career (and life) out of her immersive travel experiences.
Erica has been on the Nomadic Matt team since she moved back to the US in 2013, a budget travel website with over 1 million monthly visitors that teaches people how to bring their travel aspirations to life by exploring the world on a budget. Her tips have been featured publications including Levo League, the Positive Psychology Podcast, and Forbes.
She believes that strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet. Combining this motto with tips and tricks she’s uncovered along the way, Erica’s greatest passion is helping others shape their trips into authentic travel experiences that they can use to create the life that they love.
Erica James is a Travel Agent, Podcast Host, Blogger and YouTuber from Nashville, TN. As a Travelpreneur, Erica helps real people, with real jobs and real budgets travel the world without quitting their day job by providing expert travel planning, tips, reviews, and expert interviews!
Gabby Beckford is an award-winning travel influencer and solo travel expert at @packslight. With more than 800,000+ followers across her platform and features in the New York Times, CNN Travel, and Travel+Leisure, Gabby is on a mission to make the incredible accessible through travel, for young, women of color.
CEO, Girls LOVE Travel (GLT)
As a passionate travel-loving nomad, Haley founded GLT in Dec 2015 to foster friendships with fellow travelers all over the world!
Since then, it has become recognized as the largest and most engaging womxn-identifying travel community on Facebook – amassing over 1.2 million members residing in 150+ countries worldwide, and often referred to as “the Google search engine for the womxn traveler.”
Despite its explosive growth, Haley’s commitment to the community mission of Girls LOVE Travel has remained the same: to encourage members to get offline and explore the world fearlessly.
Jen on a Jet Plane
Jen Ruiz is a lawyer turned full-time travel blogger and author. She is a 5-time Amazon bestselling author, 3-time TEDx speaker, and 2-time award-winning travel journalist.
She has been featured by The Washington Post, Forbes, and ABC News and is the solo female traveler behind Jen on a Jet Plane.
Travel Writer & Editor
Jenna Scatena is an award-winning travel journalist whose work explores the intersection of place and culture.
Her stories have appeared in The Atlantic, AFAR, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, BBC Travel, San Francisco Chronicle, Marie Claire, O the Oprah magazine, and Vogue. Her essays have been anthologized in The Best Women’s Travel Writing Vol. 9 and Vol. 11 and An Innocent Abroad (Lonely Planet), and have won multiple Solas Travel Writing Awards and one Lowell Thomas Award from the SATW Foundation.
Previously she served as an editor at Sunset and San Francisco magazines. Jenna received her B.A. In nonfiction writing from Ithaca College and is based in Istanbul and San Francisco. She regularly teaches travel writing workshops online and in Turkey. jennascatena.com
Founder, Women’s Travel Fest
Kelly Lewis is the founder of Go! Girl Guides (travel guidebooks for women) the annually sold-out Women’s Travel Fest conference, and Damesly, a boutique tour operator for women.
She has been called a “pioneer” in women’s travel by National Geographic and a “woman changing the face of travel” by Adventure.com. She’s a dreamer, an optimist and a go-getter, passionate about seeing the world and helping other women to do the same.
The Travel PM
Kendra Abney is the Founder & CEO of The Travel PM. As a project manager and long-time traveler, Kendra is an expert in putting together the perfect plan for clients traveling for personal or business reasons.
The Travel PM offers customized Perfect City Plans, downloadable and in-print travel tools, researched destinations, and more. Contact Kendra with The Travel PM to learn more about travel planning for your next trip.
Passport 2 Pretty
Kenecia Lashae is a global citizen and entrepreneur born in Fort Worth, Texas. Upon graduating from Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, with a B.A in Business Marketing, Kenecia landed in New York City, where her dreams of becoming a professional makeup artist came to life. Her passion for beauty comes at a close second to her love of travel. To date Kenecia has visited 44 countries and 6 continents.
Passport 2 Pretty, a digital platform, was created from Kenecia’s expertise in beauty and passion for travel. It was in Rishikesh, India where Kenecia earned her 200 hour yoga and meditation teacher training certification from World Peace Yoga School.
Kenecia’s world travels serve as inspiration for her role as a travel influencer, speaker, wellness warrior, writer, self-love advocate and future wealthy auntie.
Climber, Motivational Speaker
Lei is the first Asian woman to complete the Explorer’s Grand Slam and a sought-after international motivational speaker and executive coach.
She helps business leaders accelerate their careers to exciting new heights with ease and grace, lead their organizations to make a bigger impact, and connect deeper with the community they serve.
President, TTC Tour Brands
Melissa DaSilva is President of the TTC Tour Brands for North America with an industry career spanning more than 30 years. For DaSilva, travel is both a personal passion and professional pursuit. An avid and lifelong traveler Melissa has been to more than fifty countries and has lived in both the US and the UK.
Her contagious enthusiasm comes from a deeply held belief she shares with TTC; travel helps broaden perspectives through the connectivity of shared experiences of adventure, exploration, learning and laughter showing how we are all more alike than different.
Mita Carriman is Founder & CEO of Adventurely (backed by Backstage Capital & Google for Startups): a company on a mission to connect digital nomads to each other & their new local communities with thoughtfulness around sustainability & local impact in mind.
Originally an Entertainment & IP attorney from New York City- Mita spent 5 years traveling the world as a full time digital nomad while working remotely across 20 countries, 26 cities & 60+ Airbnb’s. It was through her experiences as a digital nomad that she was left compelled with inspiration as an Entrepreneur to build products & services to serve the digital nomad space.
Mita firmly believes that the future of work is inextricably tied to the future of travel and she is a remote work advocate.
She was named 1 of 16 women inspiring international travel in 2021 by Buzzfeed & a top 10 digital nomad to follow in 2022 by the Tourism Board of Dominica. She also has grown digital nomad communities in Barbados (during their launch of the world’s first digital nomad visa) and Playa Del Carmen Mexico.
Editor, Fodor’s Travel
As a published author, Nikki is represented by the literary division of the Paradigm Talent Agency.
Her first book, Wanderess, is an exhaustive women’s travel resource combining the wisdom and expertise of leading women in the travel space. Wanderess was published by the Clarkson Potter imprint of Penguin Random House in February 2022.
Nikki’s second book is a candid travel memoir called Call You When I Land, which will be published by the Hanover Square Presss imprint of Harper Collins in November 2023. Nikki’s work has been covered by The New York Times, Good Morning America, CNN, Vogue Spain, and The Washington Post; while her bylines have appeared in Cosmopolitan, Zagat, VICE, Food & Wine, and more.
As a public speaker, Nikki has spoken at the Women’s Travel Fest, Women in Travel Summit, Latino Travel Fest, the Travel + Adventure Show, IMM North America, and the former New York Times Travel Show.
The Professional Hobo
Nora Dunn (aka The Professional Hobo) has been a digital nomad since 2006 and is considered an OG travel blogger and digital nomad.
She combines her expertise as a former financial planner, with 17 years of travel lifestyle experience, to help people travel long-term while working remotely.
Her travel adventures range from the sublime to the absurd to downright terrifying. Ask her about the kangaroo.
Editorial Director | The Frommer Travel Show
Pauline Frommer is the Co-President of Frommer Media LLC with her father, and travel legend, Arthur Frommer, founder of the Frommer’s guidebooks. Together they publish the Frommer’s guides, as well as Frommers.com, which gets 12 million page views per month.
Pauline is also host of the Frommer’s Travel Show, a podcast that was named one of the 13 best for travel by the New York Times. She is an award winning travel writer and editor; her most current book is the best selling Frommer’s New York City 2023.
You may recognize her face as Pauline created weekly travel segments for CNN’s Headline News for three years; she’s also made appearances on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The NBC Evening News, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, NPR’s Marketplace, and every local news station you can name. She’s mother to two very well-traveled daughters, and married to Columbia University professor Mahlon Stewart.
The Roaming Nanny
Retha is all about women supporting women and has been from a young age because of her membership in the Girl Scouts. In 2020 she’ll be celebrating 30 years in the organization!
She has been traveling consistently for over 6 years and in February of 2019 left her full-time job as a Nanny to be a Travel Writer, Adventure Guide, and Travel Nanny (just to name a few things she does.)
Retha loves sharing her passion for travel and discovery with others and is always looking for new and exciting places to explore.
Some of her favorite adventures so far include climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, learning to scuba dive in Cozumel, Mexico, and camping in Antarctica.
Host, Samantha Brown’s Places to Love
Samantha is a two time Emmy Award winning Television personality and travel expert.
Over the last 20 years, Samantha has traveled around the world visiting over 250 cities in 75 countries and 45 U.S. states creating over 200 hours of engaging and informative television programming along the way.
Samantha started her TV career at the Travel Channel where over 15 years created many iconic travel series, including Great Hotels, Passport to Europe, Great Weekends and Samantha Brown’s Asia.
In 2018, Samantha moved from Travel Channel to PBS and her new show there, “Samantha Brown’s Places to Love” quickly became the highest rated travel program on public television. In 2019 she earned two Emmy awards (Outstanding Travel and Adventure Program and Outstanding Host for a Lifestyle, Children’s or Special Class Program) and has been nominated again every year since.
In Places to Love, she finds the destinations, experiences and most importantly, the people who make you feel like you belong to a place, and not just a consumer passing through.
Samantha’s fun-loving style has made her a revered and engaging television personality whose approach is less expert, less host and more a person you would want to travel with. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and 9 year old twins.
Investor. Speaker. Author. Entrepreneur.
Sarah Weaver is an author, speaker, coach, real estate investor, and business owner. Sarah runs three businesses that serve both real estate investors and real estate agents.
She travels the country coaching real estate agents and hosting intimate retreats for investors. Talk about a dream life.
Invested Adventures hosts epic events for real estate investors all over the world. Sarah is taking 18 investors to hike Patagonia and 12 investors on an African Safari 2023. Arya Design Services helps investors analyze, furnish and launch their furnished rentals nationwide. The Sarah Weaver Mentorship Program serves investors looking to grow their portfolios no matter where they live.
Sarah owns 19 units in four states. This includes nine furnished rentals—all of which she self-manages from afar. Did we mention that Sarah is always traveling? She has traveled to 47 countries on six continents and has been fully nomadic since January 2019.
Global Beauty Expert
A Makeup Artist Discovering Beauty Through a Global Lens
Well versed in the language of beauty. She is endlessly curious about color, texture, and what lies beneath the surface. Flor’s mission is to understand other traditions, while remaining steeped in her Latina roots. She’s traveled to over 35 countries in her quest to diversify the conversation. She is working on q documentary series is inspired by New York’s diverse cultures coming together, and their mission of sharing their beauty culture with the world.
Stephanie has been featured in Forbes, Oprah, Yahoo, Refinery 29, Marie Claire,Vogue, Instyle, and more. She has been named, Latina magazine’s “Young & Inspiring: Ones to Watch” list. Beauty Vanguard and Marie Claire featured her as “Making Her Mark”.
Points & Miles
Stephanie Zito, founder of wanderingforgood, is a professional travel hacker and part time humanitarian on a mission to help travelers access the globe through hotel, airline, and credit card points.
Stephanie is the author of the award travel books Upgrade Unlocked: The Unconventional Guide to Luxury Travel on a budget, The Honeymoon Hack, and the forthcoming Go Girl: Travel Hacking Guide for Girls, and also is co-owner and managing editor of the Travel Hacking Cartel, a points and miles service.
Stephanie has been collecting miles since high school, and took her first international airline mileage trip in 1994 to Europe. Stephanie has since traveled to more than 125 countries and all seven continents using points and miles.
Timathea has traveled extensively around the globe leading tours to study everything from classic art in Europe to Grey whales in Baja, trekking through the Moroccan Sahara by camel to watch the sun rise over the red sand dunes, hiking across blue glaciers in Antarctica between penguin rookeries, visiting remote islands in French Polynesia to learn bee keeping and dive with sharks, conducting interviews on creativity and censorship with contemporary authors in China, studying the wildlife of Patagonia, and working with A-list actors on a film crew at historic sites in Jordan.
She has led small group tours walking between villages on the Coastal Path in Cornwall, exploring islands in the Adriatic, Ionian, and Aegean Seas, learning to cook homemade ravioli on the Amalfi Coast, visiting iconic Harry Potter sites, and sharing her favorite cafés and museums around the world. When she is not traveling she teaches writing and life skills to teenagers and works as a freelance writer, editor, photographer, and bookmaker in Los Angeles. She is the creator of Mejo, the unique travel memoir journals. She also rescues pigeons.
Timathea loves sharing her joy of unplugged travel with others to help them get the most out of their experience and see the world with new eyes. She has fun inspiring women to find the often overlooked everyday details along the route and tap into the inner journey that is sparked by new surroundings.
Travel Reporter | Travel with Vikkie
Victoria M. Walker
Victoria M. Walker is a travel reporter and the founder of the “Travel With Vikkie” newsletter.
Victoria has been seen and heard as a travel expert on NPR, MSNBC, Newsy, and FOX 5 in Washington, among others. She contributes to AFAR Magazine as Special Correspondent covering the U.S. South, The New York Times Real Estate “Build” section, and Upgraded Points. She was formerly the Senior Travel Reporter at The Points Guy.
In February 2022, Victoria reignited an international conversation around pay transparency after a tweet about her salary went viral. She’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, GMA and others.
Victoria previously served as a multimedia journalism lecturer at Howard University, where she taught Multimedia Storytelling, Intro to Media Production and Digital Media Literacy. She also held an adjunct position at Marymount Manhattan College.
Victoria started her career as a video editor at The Washington Post and was part of the team that won the Society for Features Journalism’s Diversity in Digital Features award in 2019 for the “Green Book” project.
A proud native of Hampton, Virginia, Victoria now lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her four-year-old pug, Migo. She is represented by Michael Longclaws at Javelin.