Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

7 Female Pop Culture Icons Who Made Me Believe in Myself as a Traveler

by Amanda Machado Mar 3, 2016

1. The later 90s-era Disney princesses

The first few — Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty– were pretty much useless for any independent woman yearning for adventure. But in the 90’s, Disney Princess started capturing the angst of getting trapped in a fairy-tale story you never wanted for yourself. Pocohontas complains about “a handsome sturdy husband who builds handsome sturdy walls, but never dreams that something might be coming.” Belle from Beauty and the Beast convinces herself “There must be something more than this provincial life.” Thank God movies like Frozen have continued the trend and started creating female characters relatable to ladies with wanderlust.

2. All the women in A League of Their Own

When I watched these women ditching their friends, family, husbands and conventionally safe lives to travel the country playing baseball, it gave me the motivation I needed to leave my hometown. Like them, I knew I wasn’t meant to stay forever in the places I was most comfortable. When I got nervous before first leaving home and began doubting whether moving was the right choice, I remembered what Marla Hooch’s father said to her when she hesitated to get on the train to training camp: “Honey, nothing ain’t ever going to happen here. You’ve got to go where things happen.”

3. Jo from Little Women

Growing up, Jo was my hero: a tomboy who played the male part in plays and argued with men about woman’s suffrage, and a writer who described herself as someone “awkward who always says the wrong things.

Jo dreamt of traveling to Europe and moving to New York to pursue writing, but struggled with abandoning her family. But Jo showed me that you could both love your home, and admit that you’re “fitful” and can’t stand being there. And she showed me that you could accept your awkwardness and absolute inability to “fit in anywhere” and use it as proof that you’re meant for more adventurous things. As Marmie told her before letting her leave, “If you have such extraordinary talents, how can you expect to live an ordinary life?”

4. Robin Scherbatsky from How I Met Your Mother

Robin was one of the first TV woman that I felt I could relate to in my 20’s: a woman who orders Scotch, feels ambivalent towards having kids, and jaunts to places like Argentina and Japan to work and travel around the world. When I took a year to travel at 24, I watched almost every season of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix during downtime at hostels. Robin was the validation I needed in that stage of my life. Watching her refuse to give-in to everyone’s over-zealous attempts to make her settle down, I knew I had made best choice.

5. Vianne Rocher from Chocolat

A woman who travels around Europe, setting up her Aztec-myth-inspired chocolate shop in every city she visits, while also having romantic love affairs with Johnny Depp, pissing off the Catholic Church, and revolutionizing the town’s stigma towards pleasure? An ex-boyfriend hinted once that Vianne was basically the woman I’ve always secretly wished I could be.

6. Polly Prince from Along Came Polly

Polly moved to a new city every few months, explored underground salsa clubs, ate ethnic food from underground enclaves throughout town, and did it all wearing some killer bohemian scarves. Growing up in a pretty homogenous part of Florida, her life was one I hadn’t even realized was possible. Plus, I liked that Polly was a former high school honor society, Model UN nerd who choose a life of adventure over a life stuck behind a desk. Outside of the pet ferret, I was sold.

7. Christina from Vicky Christina Barcelona

This movie was the healthy dose of affirmation I needed during a few chaotic years of travel romance. Watching Christina spontaneously settle in Barcelona with a passionate, polyamorous Spanish couple (that occasionally yelled and threw things) made my situations seem like the Brady Bunch.

Christina struggled to tolerate the tumultuousness of romance. But she also rejected the sanctimonious “Dougs” and “Vickys” of the world who stubbornly embraced order and stability, no matter how bored and passionless it made them feel. That’s a struggle any woman who has fallen in love abroad can relate to.

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