MARCH 8, 2014 is set to be the first ever Women’s Travel Fest, an entire conference dedicated to the topic of women and travel. I’m super excited to attend this year, and celebrate the freedom I feel while traveling on my own. I spoke with Kelly Lewis, friend and creator of Go! Girl Guides, who is also the founder of the Women’s Travel Fest; here’s what she has to say about why this event is going to change the way women travel:

MN: So why a travel festival dedicated to women’s travel?

KL: I strongly believe that the world is mostly safe, and that people are mostly good, but there are so many women that I meet who are scared, or intimidated to travel the world. We need to change that! The Women’s Travel Fest aims to inspire and empower women to travel the world, and help them make newfound travel connections.

Women have unique concerns about their health & safety while traveling. The Women’s Travel Fest is a natural extension of my original business, Go! Girl Guides, which publishes the world’s first series of travel guidebooks made just for women. Last year, as I was moving to NYC, I went on a cross-country book tour for GGG where I was speaking to hundreds of women about the amazing transformative power of solo travel. The energy & the love that came from these talks was electrifying, and when I made it to New York, I knew it was time to do this on a bigger level. After meeting Mickela Mallozzi & Masha Vapnitchnaia, the Women’s Travel Fest was born. I can’t wait!

MN: What are some of the topics that will be covered during the Fest?
KL: Our speakers offer first-hand tips on everything, from traveling solo through the Middle East, to making the transition from solo travel to family travel. We’re also addressing simple things, like packing tips, and helpful apps for women on the road, as well as touching upon societal taboos: sexuality abroad, for example, or breaking free of the mold of “housewife” and “mother.” We’re going to show that travel can be as simple as booking a plane ticket — and then we’ll help you with everything that comes after.

MN: The speaker list looks awesome! How did you decide who to reach out to for this opportunity?
KL: The women who are speaking, from Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown, to author and activist Sarah Shourd (who spent 410 days in solitary confinement in prison in Iran after crossing an invisible border while hiking in Iraq), are inspiring, empowering, and everything we want the festival to embody.

When we began reaching out to speakers, we first made a list of topics we’d like to address, and then contacted experts in that field. We also thought about women who inspire us. I’m so humbled & honored to be sharing the stage with these incredible women!

MN: Are there any interactive elements? After parties? Cocktail, networking or lunch events?

KL: Lunch is included in the ticket price ($75), as is the cocktail hour. We have some incredible sponsors for the cocktail hour — Jameson will be doing a whisky tasting, Blue Point Brewery and Anheuser-Busch have donated beer and cider, Wine Awesomeness is donating some of their tasty wines, and the Curacao Tourist Board is setting up a Curacao and vodka specialty cocktail station.

The cocktail hour is a great way for women to interact and build newfound travel connections. We’re all about fostering new friendships and partnerships, and there will be plenty of opportunities for this throughout the day. When you get a group of 400 women who love travel together, magic just happens!

MN: Your number one travel tip for ladies is:
KL: Confidence is everything. Be cautious, not paranoid, be confident, and aware. Trust that people are mostly good and that angels are everywhere.

The aim of the Women’s Travel Fest is to help women to feel comfortable and confident enough to take on the world. We want to help them feel inspired, empowered and enthusiastic about travel. So I guess the message is: Watch out world, we’re comin’ atcha!

Tickets for the event can be purchased at WomensTravelFest.com, or by clicking here. Can’t make it to the Fest this year? Follow the event on Twitter and Facebook to see what people are saying about it online!

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