Despite the incremental advancements we’ve made as a society, there’s still a shocking number of people who hold bigoted, racist, and sexist beliefs. But thanks to social media and increases in diverse media representation, the old offensive stereotypes that Asian women are meek, submissive, and dependent are crumbling. Whether it’s through solo travel, desires to change the world, or just being themselves and following their dreams, these seven travel influencers are living proof of how badass Asian women can be.
1. Aileen Adalid — an award-winning travel blogger
Born and raised in the Philippines, Aileen realized her love for travel on her first overseas trip to Hong Kong while she was still in university. By age 21, she was so passionate about travel that she quit her banking job in exchange for a digital nomad’s life.
Aileen started her blog in 2014 to record her travels for herself and her close circle of friends and family. Her audience exploded before she knew it due to her helpful and engaging content and her honest and approachable voice. Since then, she’s written for renowned publications like National Geographic and the BBC, started a successful vlog, made national TV appearances, won multiple awards, and visited all seven continents.
Aileen’s website is a goldmine for anyone who loves travel. In addition to sharing her experiences as she makes her way around the globe (mostly solo), she has created hundreds of resources for digital nomads and travelers of all kinds. As a woman who grew up in a developing country, her mission is to show everyone that it’s possible to live a life of travel no matter where you come from.
2. Anna — travel with a philanthropic twist
After embarking on several of her own solo volunteer trips, Korean-Canadian traveler Anna founded My Travelanthropy. She knew that starting a blog would serve as a valuable outlet for her passions and hoped that it would also inspire others to give back during their travels.
When we think of philanthropists, we often imagine rich people with enough time and money on their hands to spend a day volunteering or donate mounds of cash. And when we think of travel, many of us believe we need copious amounts of time and money to go anywhere. Through her posts, vlogs, and other resources, Anna challenges these beliefs. She delivers the message that anyone can successfully combine travel and philanthropy with the right knowledge and enough commitment.
The values of My Travelanthropy are evident on Anna’s Instagram. Her honesty shines through when she describes the unglamorous work and setup involved in getting the perfect influencer shot. Whether she’s uploading photos of threatened wildlife or Black Lives Matter protests, she always includes tips on how to help and be responsible. And when she’s sharing posts of herself simply wearing a dress or a traditional Korean hanbok, she’s true to herself. In one post, she wrote, “I felt like I had to suppress my feminine energy…in order to be taken seriously in the corporate work, especially as an Asian woman; until I realized I was overlooking all the power I had in being one.”
3. Daphni — a flight attendant sharing her travels
Daphni, aka Yung Jetlag, found happiness as a flight attendant in 2015. Growing up in a traditional South Indian family, she often felt unable to express herself as a woman. The one thing that allowed her to feel free was travel, leading her to a career that lets her see the world.
She now runs a blog on her website, which she hopes will inspire other women and POC to explore the joys of travel. She provides information and tips about becoming a flight attendant, life in the air, and what to do on short layovers. She also writes about longer-term vacations, where to stay, and what activities to try.
Her Instagram invites you into her travels as a flight attendant as well as everyday life in her base of New York City. You’ll see pictures of her posing in her uniform, exploring various destinations on the ground, and enjoying cuisines from around the world. She periodically shares pieces of Indian culture and speaks out on what it means to be a dark-skinned South Asian woman.
4. Tina — traveling with a full-time job
You might not know it from looking at her gorgeous photographs from around the world, but Tina of Postcards From Tina is a full-time engineer. When she was a young girl in California, her family took her on trips to Vietnam, where she learned about her roots and discovered her enthusiasm for travel. After college, she began a career in aerospace and in-flight entertainment. Despite the connection to travel, her job doesn’t quench her thirst for seeing the world, so she uses her free time to visit new places.
The “postcards” you can see on her Instagram are photos of herself against breathtaking backdrops such as Bryce Canyon National Park, a market in Cairo, and the beautiful white-washed houses of Santorini. While she doesn’t take all of them herself, she does edit them all.
On her blog, she writes about her experiences and offers recommendations for the places she’s visited. Some of these posts read like diary entries with practical tips sprinkled throughout. Others are more detailed guides outlining how to get around, where to stay, and more. But no matter the type of content, she proves to everyone that with proper planning and saving, it is possible to travel extensively even when you have a full-time job at home.
5. Melissa Hie — Instagrammable food from around the world
Melissa Hie’s overnight success came as a surprise. In 2013, she went on her first solo trip, and instead of taking selfies or asking strangers to photograph her, she snapped pictures of her food to share with her Facebook friends. She continued doing this in every place she visited until her friend convinced her to make her photos public on Instagram. One day, she shared her account, Girl Eat World, on Reddit. News companies started contacting, and since then, she has amassed over 350,000 followers.
Scroll through her Instagram, and you’ll find hundreds of tasty-looking foods and drinks held against recognizable landmarks and beautiful scenery. In the captions, she describes each food and often goes into its history and cultural significance. She also runs a blog where she posts guides and itineraries.
Melissa grew up in Indonesia and now calls Singapore her home, where she works full time as a product designer. Even after going viral, she continues to travel mostly solo without any fancy camera equipment — all of her photos are taken with an iPhone.
6. Jessie — sustainable adventure travel
Jessie’s parents are immigrants who left China for better opportunities in America. She knew she had inherited their sense of adventure when she studied abroad in college, once in Shanghai and again in Sydney. Later on, she quit her desk job and spontaneously left for Thailand, which sprung her into a life of travel.
Her adventurous spirit has since brought her to 28 countries. She has spent time backpacking in Southeast Asia, hiking in New Zealand, and road-tripping around the United States. Along the way, she has discovered the beauty and fragility of our planet. She has made it her mission to live and travel sustainably and hopes to encourage others to do the same.
On her blog, Lost with Jess, she documents her travels and includes guides and itineraries. Most of her content focuses on the outdoors. On her Instagram, she posts pictures of herself in cities or surrounded by nature, and she’s covered a lot of ground. Mountains, beaches, waterfalls, canyons, deserts — she shares it all.
7. Alexis — colorful solo travel
Alexis of Alexis Jetsets is a native Singaporean. Her passion for solo travel arose from five months in Germany on a student exchange program, where she spent weekends hopping to different European destinations and staying in cheap hostels. Later on, she left her accounting desk job and started working as a food writer, which gave her the time and flexibility to travel.
The first thing you’ll notice when you open Alexis’ Instagram is a grid of vibrant, stunning colors. While the hues are enhanced through editing, it’s clear that she puts a lot of thought into her shooting locations, outfits, and props. Wherever she goes, she finds brightly colored buildings, murals, lights, and foliage to use as her backdrop. When the background is more muted, she often adds a pop of color with a striking outfit.
For those who prefer words over pictures, Alexis has a wealth of stories and information on her blog. Whether you’re looking for the perfect accommodation, in search of the best food, or need help creating an itinerary for your next trip, chances are you’ll find helpful resources on Alexis Jetsets. Alexis also worked with her mother to write and produce photographs for a book. Eat, Muse, Love highlights several food establishments in Singapore and incorporates mini-lessons on Chinese language, culture, and history.