Mar Pages of ‘Once in a Lifetime Journey’: “Agree on the tools that are most effective”

Agree on the tools that are most effective, least intrusive for all members and most practical to use and don’t let technology dictate how the team should work or add unnecessary overhead. Some teams may prefer to use a completely new business-only tool to avoid overlaps with personal conversations while other teams may prefer to […]

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Agree on the tools that are most effective, least intrusive for all members and most practical to use and don’t let technology dictate how the team should work or add unnecessary overhead. Some teams may prefer to use a completely new business-only tool to avoid overlaps with personal conversations while other teams may prefer to leverage something they are already familiar with. For example, I currently use Slack with my remote team because this is a platform we both exclusively use for work and do not have on our phones so we can keep work discussions to desktop use during office hours and switch off notifications when the working day ends. With my business partner, we have the opposite approach. We use WhatsApp because that is what we have on our phones and helps us be always-on and manage our 80,000 solo female travelers community. The immediacy and availability of this app serves the purpose better.

We are living in a new world in which offices are becoming obsolete. How can teams effectively communicate if they are never together? Zoom and Slack are excellent tools, but they don’t replicate all the advantages of being together. What strategies, tools and techniques work to be a highly effective communicator, even if you are not in the same space?

In this interview series, we are interviewing business leaders who share the strategies, tools and techniques they use to effectively and efficiently communicate with their team who may be spread out across the world. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewingMar Pages.

She is a former telecoms strategy consultant and xGoogler turned online entrepreneur in the travel and digital marketing space. She is the publisher of luxury and out of the ordinary travel website Once in a Lifetime Journey, Co-Founder of the 80,000+ Solo Female Travelers community and of Online Group Success, a boutique digital marketing agency specialising in online communities. Mar is a long term expat who has lived in 8 different countries and worked in over 40. She has been leading remote or semi-remote teams since 2014 and at the end of 2019 co-founded two companies with her Australian business partner whom she has not seen face to face since 2015.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

It all started on a fine Boxing Day in 2005. I slowly sipped on my cortado at the lobby cafe of a Modernist 5* hotel in Barcelona as the founder of a new telecoms consulting company in Dubai explained their plans for launching an emerging markets focused telecoms consulting business on the back of their success leading what would become our main competitor. The company had barely even started operating but the founders were experienced in the region and had clients who would follow them to the new venture.

I was young and excited to move to a different country I knew nothing about. In fact, I knew so little that I erroneously looked for the UAE guidebooks in the Africa section of a travel bookstore.

After a short interview process, I got an offer, left my international job at Tyco which already involved weekly travel, and moved to Dubai in the 2006 frenzy, where new towers were going up every day, streets appeared and disappeared overnight and the city played host to the largest concentration of cranes in the world. It was an exhilarating madness. I quickly found an apartment in one of only 11 completed condos in the new expat area where there are today thousands of towers and was immediately assigned to a project in Kuwait for a Middle Eastern telecoms group. Within weeks I was in discussions about contractor kidnappings in Iraq, network expansions in warlord areas and doing business in a region filled with instability. I traveled every week, catching a flight early on Sunday and returning on Wednesday evening. Soon I moved to projects in East Africa and found my love for the continent. I enjoyed my glamorous “5* hotel — Business Class” combo job but realised that my real passion was traveling.

After 6 non-stop years of consulting, I had climbed the ranks to a level below Partner and needed a break. It was a 7 week — 7 countries sabbatical across the Pacific which prompted me to realise my job was fascinating and rewarding but didn’t allow me to do basic things like having a drink with friends on a Tuesday evening. It took me 2 more years to finally leave consulting and another year to decide what would come next. In those 12 months, I started my luxury and out of the ordinary travel blog, Once in a Lifetime Journey, to document the many anecdotes and stories I had experienced during 8 years of weekly travel. At its peak before the start of the pandemic, the website received close to half a million views a month.

My new chapter in life took me to Google where I had a global role. The job brought me some international travel opportunities and landed me in a team that was geographically spread to cover practically all time zones from Australia to the West Coast of the US. I visited teams in other countries and worked from almost 20 different offices around the globe while I continued to share my adventures on my blog. I soon realised that behind the prestige of working for Google I was left unfulfilled and doing a job that didn’t fill me with joy or purpose, so 3.5 years after joining, I decided to leave Google to devote myself to my travel website full time while I also consulted to hospitality companies on ways to successfully work with content creators and bloggers. For this, I hire ad-hoc part-time specialists on a per project basis, some of whom I have never met in person, and hired a small fully-remote full time team currently based in South Korea and whom I’ve only met in real life once in 2016.

At the end of 2019 the opportunity came up to take over a fast-growing online community of women who travel solo from a friend who had no time to manage it, and I embarked on a new chapter, this time with a business partner in a different country. My business partner Meg and I briefly met in 2015 at a blogging conference party and had been interacting online in blogging communities since but had not really seen each other in real life again. In 2018 I hired her for a large scale content management project and we realised we worked very well together, so when the opportunity to take over the community came up, I proposed to her we do it together and this is how our remote business got started. In 2020, we co-founded a boutique digital marketing agency geared towards helping community leaders grow, manage and monetise their online communities since we both have been managing groups since 2014 and have a lot of experience in this.

We have now been working together daily for close to a year and a half using exclusively virtual tools and, given the border closures in Singapore and Australia where we both reside, we do not expect to be able to see each other in real life anytime before 2022. Despite the challenge of working virtually, we use all the tools at our disposal to create a positive culture and an uplifting environment where our teams can thrive.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

When your job involves traveling to a new country and continent every week, adventures and mishaps are part of daily life, and that is even more so when you work in emerging economies where dramatic changes happen every day.

Some of the most memorable experiences happened when I was working across countries in East Africa. I got caught up in political instability and conflict several times, in Kenya during the 20017 post-election violence, in Uganda during the 2009 riots and in Madagascar in the 2008 Coup d’état. But while these are unique stories to tell in the first person, one of the projects I enjoyed the most in my entire consulting career was the launch of a mobile operator in Uganda which was designed specifically for those who could not afford to buy a mobile phone. The company had a social purpose and wanted to bring the progress and development opportunity that mobile phones provide to those who wouldn’t be able to afford the service as it was defined. I managed a consulting project to define the pricing plans, the marketing and launch strategy and the business plan up until the day the company went live. I had never felt as much joy as the day I saw the operations launch and start offering service to the least fortunate.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Do what you love and you will never have to work another day in your life”.

This is the belief that drove me to leave two secure, well paid and respected corporate jobs to set off on my own in an uncertain, variable and oftentimes under appreciated industry. I love telling stories that have never been told, discovering places that are rarely visited and satisfying my endless curiosity for the why, what, who and how. I find joy in having a purpose, be it telling a story that will bring awareness to an unknown issue or part of the world, helping others find their community and turning it into a sustainable business or empowering women to travel solo safely and on their own terms.

I honestly believed that if you find your passion and manage to convert that into your day to day job, you will never feel like you are working again and will instead feel like you are fulfilling your passion.

At the same time, I have also realised that, when your passion becomes your job, you also need to take a break to enjoy it without the deliverables, deadlines and client expectations, so it is important for me that I truly enjoy my passion on its own from time to time by taking a genuine work-free holiday.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

It takes a village to raise a child and it certainly takes a community to succeed at anything in life. When I think about individuals who have helped me get to where I am, several came to mind.

The most relevant is my best friend, telecoms expert Edwin Grummitt. We were first colleagues then friends and have visited 50 of the least explored countries in the world together since 2011, embarking on adventures to places like North Korea, Turkmenistan, Somalia, Djibouti or Kosovo. At a professional level, he has always been my sounding board for business decisions, even though we have not been in the same industry since I left consulting. He is my go-to person for anything professionally related, from proofreading an interview to helping me word something in the Queen’s English or preparing a presentation for a client meeting. He has even helped me build complex business models, including the one I used to decide when it was a good time to leave Google and devote myself to my business.

At a professional level, my business partner Meg has shown me the true meaning and value of teamwork. Despite we don’t live in the same city, have not seen each other in over 5 years and have never worked side by side, working with her has shown me that having the right business partner is the key to a successful business and that teamwork makes the sum greater than the parts. We split the work according to each other’s strengths and are always able to take the other person’s work from 85% great to 100% perfect by contributing our value to it.

Lastly, behind every person there is always a support network that props them up and helps them out, in my case, as an expat living abroad, that network is my partner who understands my love for travel, my passion for discovering the hidden parts of this world and my commitment to my mission of empowering women to travel solo safely. He encourages me to travel 50% of the time, work outside working hours and on weekends, and takes unlimited amounts of photos when on assignment.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. Many teams have started working remotely. Working remotely can be very different than working with a team that is in front of you. This provides great opportunity but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits of having a team physically together?

I have been working fully remotely for the last 3 years and this has been minimally affected by the pandemic. Prior to that, I worked for almost 4 years in a semi-remote position with a part of my extended team in the same office as me and my direct team spread across several offices around the world. However, my 8 years in consulting were all spent at the extreme other end of the spectrum, with teams with whom I would spend 15 hours a day together then socialise with over the weekend. With that in mind, I can very well compare the advantages and disadvantages of both extremes.

The most obvious benefit to being in the same physical space as your team leads is the efficiency of being able to simply pose a question or clarify an issue live and on the spot with someone who may be sitting next to you. This can be more difficult if the team is remote but it can be also equally as efficient if the remote team is at least in the same time zone or shares similar working hours with you as the same immediate help can be achieved with instant messaging tools such as Whatsapp or Slack.

Secondly, personal connections are deeper the closer a team is physically. You understand the other person’s preferences and get to know them better when you see their gestures, their quirks and their loves and hates in real life everyday. For example, you may see that your colleague calls her husband every day at lunch time, or that a colleague loves to take their tea with honey and milk, or that your boss has a cute dog he likes to bring to the office on Fridays. All these things are harder to find out when a team is remote, especially if the team has never met before and the meetings are all confined to a preset business framework that encourages planning and scheduling (eg. You have a weekly meeting of 1h only during which you need to discuss everything work related).

This is not to say that these benefits cannot be achieved with remote teams, I enjoy the above with my current team despite we are all remote, but it is harder when the work that is being done is not shared with the same passion by all team members.

On the flip side, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main challenges that arise when a team is not in the same space?

The main disadvantage of a remote team isn’t so much on the lack of a physical shared space but on the working hours. When I was at Google, the fact that my colleagues were all in different time zones and that I would leave the office before they would start their working day made it impossible to have real time conversations with them, even with electronic means, unless one of us agreed to work outside of normal working hours. This not only extended the time it took for decisions to be made but also made human connection really difficult and constrained to prescheduled and formally planned interactions.

The second important disadvantage of remote teams has become apparent to most during COVID and is the lack of human and personal connection that comes with virtual settings. When I started my job at Google, it took me a few months to meet my geographically spread team and until I had a face to face meeting with them, it was difficult to have a real connection. Besides the obvious difficulties, the lack of a real meeting made it more difficult to develop trust and collaborate, to ask colleagues for help, to ask the less obvious questions or to make mistakes. After all, team building activities are proven to help strengthen a team’s efficiency and remote teams that have never met have a harder time to develop the same level of trust. In the case of teams that have worked together before becoming remote, this challenge is less apparent at least in the short term.

Thirdly, certain tasks and types of collaborative work such as brainstormings, are much harder to conduct remotely, especially for larger teams. While there are tools designed to facilitate that, real life sessions are simply more efficient and successful.

For team leaders, remote teams can also be much harder to manage, especially when it comes to tracking performance and productivity, especially if with remoteness also comes flexibility of working hours and working styles. This point is often closely related to the previous one, as the looser the trust and the human connection among the team members, the harder it is to find the right management type and monitor a team’s performance without micro-managing or overly trusting a team member.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Communicate With Your Team Effectively Even If You Are Rarely In The Same Physical Space ? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Agree on the tools that are most effective, least intrusive for all members and most practical to use and don’t let technology dictate how the team should work or add unnecessary overhead. Some teams may prefer to use a completely new business-only tool to avoid overlaps with personal conversations while other teams may prefer to leverage something they are already familiar with. For example, I currently use Slack with my remote team because this is a platform we both exclusively use for work and do not have on our phones so we can keep work discussions to desktop use during office hours and switch off notifications when the working day ends. With my business partner, we have the opposite approach. We use WhatsApp because that is what we have on our phones and helps us be always-on and manage our 80,000 solo female travelers community. The immediacy and availability of this app serves the purpose better.

2. Devote time to non-productive, not-work related, not-outcome driven, team focused get togethers that would replace the team building activities, the after office hours drinks, etc. These are key to develop the trust and internal team bonds that will get you and your team through the challenging times. For example, me and my business partner celebrate all our achievements by taking a couple of hours to enjoy a drink and ice cream live on a video call. We joke around, dress up, laugh and connect about anything but work. We also share fun memes, photos and videos we see through the week. These events can help strengthen the team’s culture and create personal connections even when physical distances are great.

3. Be respectful and mindful of everyone’s personal space. Don’t ping team mates outside of working hours to avoid putting pressure on their need to respond and, at the same time, don’t assume that because they are working from home that means they can be flexible with their out-of-office-hours time. Instead, discuss everyone’s schedules and the preferred working hours and find the widest range of overlapping working hours that allows everyone to enjoy their personal lives outside of work. For example, while working from home, some team members might prefer to start work earlier while others might prefer to take a longer lunch break to share it with their families or spend two hours in the afternoon with their children and then resume work later. The key is to find the maximum common denominator hours that make the team’s schedule overlap the most while allowing individual team members to best combine work and personal life. After all, one of the biggest advantages of remote work is the flexibility it allows but that is only true if the team makes space for it.

4. Set clear expectations. Remoteness removes the small gestures, the eye contact, the body language and the tone away from words and it adds a level of opacity to what is expected so remote teams should be much clearer on what they expect from each other. This goes both ways, the manager explicitly spelling out what he or she expects from each team member and the members voicing what they want from the manager and from the other team members. Remoteness makes it harder for managers to closely monitor the work of their teams and it forces teams to work based on deliverables and objectives and that can mean more independence and autonomy for team members.

5. Don’t forget to praise and to celebrate accomplishments. Not being in the same places mean that not every team member will have visibility on the achievements of the other, it is important to use the available communication channels to spotlight team members accomplishments and achievements and to celebrate, even if remotely. For example, you could send a voice note to the team or record a live message congratulating them to replace the office announcement or have regular times set for celebration and appreciation.

Has your company experienced communication challenges with your workforce working from home during the pandemic? For example, does your company allow employees to use their own cell phones or do they use the company’s phone lines for work? Can you share any other issues that came up?

For us, the pandemic has not added any more challenges than the ones we were dealing with before, however, it has postponed the face to face meetings we had planned and it has made it more difficult for us to record educational content we had planned to film in person. Instead, we have had to find remote recording tools and leverage the power of technology to accomplish what we would have more easily done in person.

This has made our Empowerful festival development more time consuming and forced us to be more creative in the way we designed it. Not only our team has had to put together the materials remotely but all the speakers have also participated from their offices or homes. This brought on challenges from the organisational point of view and made the quality control much harder.

Let’s zoom in a bit. Many tools have been developed to help teams coordinate and communicate with each other. In your personal experiences which tools have been most effective in helping to replicate the benefits of being together in the same space?

I have been working in remote teams at Google at my own company and with others for the last 7 years and have used a range of technology solutions and tools. I have found that a combination of WhatsApp, Slack, Facebook Groups, Streamyard, Canva and Google Workspace cover all of our team’s needs efficiently and cost effectively. They are all collaboration tools designed with teams in mind and are affordable and easy to use, on desktop, on mobile and from any platform, be it Mac or PC.

Google Workspace has a suite of products designed with collaboration in mind; it is the tool I used at Google and have continued to use in my other business. It makes it extremely easy to work with others on shared documents, project plans, presentations and meetings. Google Calendar and Meet help us host team meetings and gatherings, discuss documents, share screen, and brainstorm using the recently added features.

We use Canva, which also has collaboration features, to create graphics that we will use for social media purposes or to prepare presentations that need to be visually appealing. All our documents and assets are shared on Google Drive folders that the entire team can access them remotely anytime.

Streamyard has been useful for us to hold interviews, invite third parties to speak to our community and do all the recordings for our festival. The tool makes it very easy for teams to share a login indistinctly because it can be accessed as a producer by any of the team members.

We also use Facebook Groups to manage our online Solo Female Travelers community and its niche sub-groups and connect with other community leaders who are part of our digital marketing agency specialising in online communities, Online Group Success. We also use Facebook Groups to network with other content creators, bloggers and digital marketers, most of whom are spread around the world. Before the pandemic, those groups were already thriving online communities for creators and marketers to connect with others from around the world but with the hiatus in physical networking events they have become even more critical for many solopreneurs to network, connect and stay up to date.

Lastly, Slack and Whatsapp are used by different team members depending on their role. The team uses Slack on desktop only, so they can disconnect and separate professional from personal communications, while the management team currently uses WhatsApp for immediacy and 247 availability.

If you could design the perfect communication feature or system to help your business, what would it be?

I would like for all the tools that I use to be integrated so I don’t need to login to 8 different platforms to access 15 different features. The same platform and screen would have a messaging app, a screen to go live and open the camera to see the other person and record, a calendar with all my meetings and my email. Gmail has some of these components, especially when Google Meet is included, but it is not seamlessly integrated and does not have the same features as Slack for group communication, file management, reactions, etc.

My particular expertise and interest is in Unified Communications. Has the pandemic changed the need or appeal for unified communications technology requirements? Can you explain?

Unified communications technology requirements have become more apparent with the pandemic because of the lack of face to face interactions in the work space. With teams not being able to pop into each other’s offices or stop by a team mate’s desk to discuss an idea, these tools have had to step up to the game and fulfil that need.

For remote companies like ours, the pandemic has caused minimal change in the day to day, and the tools we already used continue to be valid. However, for companies that relied on face to face, in the office collaboration and teamwork, the transition to remote work has brought to the limelight the need for the right technology.

Companies and employees who were used to informally and casually collaborate in shared spaces would have been most affected, especially those which still relied on physical paper, white boards, or controlled office environments, be it for security and privacy reasons or for cost control.

In many cases, companies have had to provide employees with work phones and laptops and the right security set up for them to work remotely from home. Many companies were not prepared to apply the right technology, others were already using it. While the right technology can bring a team closed together, the wrong technology can add distance and complicate collaboration, causing frustration and resource wastage.

The technology is rapidly evolving and new tools like VR, AR, and Mixed Reality are being developed to help bring remote teams together in a shared virtual space. Is there any technology coming down the pipeline that excites you?

I believe that no technology will replace the value of face to face interactions, the ability to shake hands, to see someone in real life or to hear their voice no matter how advanced and how good of a virtual replica of the person they provide. Human beings are social animals and we need the context of proximity. The tools we currently have available are good, they are powerful and they help us bridge physical distances and gaps, but they cannot replace a human hug, a pat on the back or a round of drinks and lunchtime laughter at the local restaurant.

Is there a part of this future vision that concerns you? Can you explain?

The biggest concern I have from working remotely in various settings for several years, as an employee, as a team member, as a team manager and as a leader, is the encroachment of our work into our personal lives. This is not so much with regards to working remotely, but with regards to the fact that most of us work remotely from home, in a space we share with our families and which we designed as a sanctuary away from home. Many employees don’t have the right space at home to accommodate an office and end up working in communal spaces, further blurring the differentiation between each facet of our life. With this, we risk negatively impacting our wellbeing by not being able to rest, disconnect and separate the stress and responsibilities, and instead, fall into an always-on life that drains us and leaves us unable to enjoy either.

So far we have discussed communication within a team. How has the pandemic changed the way you interact and engage your customers? How much of your interactions have moved to digital such as chatbots, messaging apps, phone, or video calls?

Most of our customers were already remote before the pandemic. Our Solo Female Travelers community is global and spread across more than 100 counties in all time zones. This is by design and because we seek to have an inclusive and globally minded space where women from all walks of life can thrive and connect. The pandemic has delayed some of our plans for in person events and trips we had planned for, but which will resume when borders open. We have instead leveraged the tools available to create an online safe space and an educational platform to help women stay safe when they travel on their own. This space is an always-on, on demand festival called Empowerful that would only make sense in an online format accessible anytime, anywhere from any device. A global physical conference on the same topic would have been an option without the pandemic, but would go against our mission of making the resource available to everyone and would have raised the bar for those who cannot afford an expensive international trip.

Our digital marketing agency customers are also global. We have some local clients in Singapore and Tasmania which we have continued to meet in real life since both countries are allowing this since before the start of 2020 summer. Industry networking events in digital marketing, content creation and travel spaces have all moved online and transitioned into a mix of live and pre-recorded sessions and we have continued to attend some. There have been a small amount of local live events happening in the last few months which we have attended.

Working in the digital space means that customers are used to the online world and so the transition has been easier. I would go as far as to say that the pandemic has opened the doors to customers from all over the world who would have otherwise focused their efforts to finding a local service provider and are now open to working with someone who may be at the other side of the world because having online meetings has become the norm and not the exception. In that sense, the pandemic has benefited us in the opening of horizons and market opportunities.

Likewise, some of the collaborations and partnerships we have forged in the last year have been with international companies that are often located at the other end of the world and that would have been more difficult to strike if the pandemic hadn’t brought the remote and online world to the forefront of the way we do business.

In my experience, one of the trickiest parts of working with a remote team is giving honest feedback, in a way that doesn’t come across as too harsh. If someone is in front of you much of the nuance can be picked up in facial expressions and body language. But not when someone is remote. Can you give a few suggestions about how to best give constructive criticism to a remote team member?

The same advice that would apply to providing feedback in real life can be said of providing feedback remotely, especially if you are giving feedback to someone you have met in real life before and know well, but the lack of physical clues just means you need to voice what you would have otherwise implied with your posture, gesture and expressions. Here are my tips:

1. Don’t leave feedback for the performance evaluation cycle, instead, provide feedback on a daily basis. Tell someone the things they did great and you loved, and provide suggestions on how they can improve something. The performance review should never be a surprise but rather a repetition of everything that has already been said in the previous months. Leave them a voice note, a message or even a video with your feedback.

2. Start with the positives and make sure that for every area of improvement there are two areas that are appreciated and highlighted to balance out the goods and the bads.

3. Don’t assume. One of the biggest difficulties of not being in the same physical space as someone else is the fact that you can’t pick up on their mood and you don’t see them everyday. The lack of casual conversation and impromptu exchanges also limits your knowledge of their personal lives and what they could be going through. In writing, you cannot pick up on clues that would show the person is worried, stressed or even sick. Messaging is great, but make sure to have a video call where you can see the other person at least once a week and ideally twice a week, so you can pick up on their mood and anything that might be worrying them.

4. Be measured and thoughtful in your writing. Without the context provided by tone and gestures, it is much more difficult to read a situation and understand if the person who wrote the message is upset, angry or disappointed, make sure to use the right words, spell out elements that would have been read from physical clues and in the case of difficult conversations, that they are had in video call and not in writing.

Can you give any specific ideas about how to create a sense of camaraderie and team cohesion when you are not physically together?

It is essential to devote time, during working hours, for team building where work is not discussed and the only intention is for the team to mingle, get to know each other, share a space together and laugh. Nothing builds camaraderie as much as sharing a good laughter. If your company cannot share drinks in person at the local bar, send a bottle of each team’s favourite drink, a box of chocolate or a pint of ice cream, to each of the team members and set a time aside for everyone to get together around a video call and enjoy the drinks or food together.

You can play online board games, play charade, monopoly or even just share jokes, anecdotes or anything that makes people light up. We are all in a better mood when we talk about what makes use happy and these meetings should be exclusively devoted to having a good time, so get each team member to talk about what makes them happiest.

Ok wonderful. We are nearly done. Here is our last “meaty” question. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My movement is already a reality.

Solo Female Travelers is a community of women who love to travel solo and we are on a mission to empower 10,000 women to travel solo safely on their own terms. Because safety is the number one concern of women who travel solo (73% of solo female travelers worry about safety) we are devoting all our efforts to helping them stay safe, physically and mentally when traveling solo. Travel is the best education one can have and it is also the path to tolerance, respect and global peace. As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness”.

Our intention is not just to encourage women to have an adventure, but to help them stay safe. Travel safety is a complex issue with several moving parts so we decided to first provide women with the data to understand how safe or unsafe a destination is and then equip them with the tools to plan, prevent, protect and defend themselves. We have only just started with our Solo Female Travel Safety Index (the TripAdvisor of female travel safety) and Empowerful, our festival on safety, wellness and sexual wellbeing which is going live on March 8th to celebrate International Women’s Day, but we know there are millions of women who travel solo every year and we are committed to helping them do so safely, so they can come back home with unforgettable experiences to share and to treasure.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

For the women interested in traveling on their own, Solo Female Travelers is open to women from all walks of life. The Solo Female Travel Safety Index is growing daily and welcomes the opinions of all women who have traveled on their own to come share their perspective on safety for the destinations they have visited. Women keen to equip themselves with all the knowledge to stay safe when traveling can join Empowerful, our online festival.

If you wish to start, grow, manage or monetise an online community, Online Group Success is filled with resources to get your started and our detailed guides and ebooks are a great place to get comprehensive advice. Lastly, for those with a penchant for luxury and out of the ordinary travel, I share my travel tips and guides at Once in a Lifetime Journey. I can also be found on Instagram, on LinkedIn and on Clubhouse (@solofemaletrav)

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.

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