4 Influential Women in History to Inspire Your Travels

Throughout history, we have seen women defy expectations and shatter barriers in pursuit of their passions and beliefs. From conquering mountains to advocating for conservation and equality, many have left a lasting impact inspiring us all. Today is International Women’s Day and AdventureWomen highlights four women who have made their mark on the world of travel.

Kathmandu, Nepal – November 22, 2012: Dr. Jane Goodall speaks at a conference in Patan Darbar Square.


Sheila Macdonald: First Woman to Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro

In 1927, at just 22 years old, Sheila Macdonald became the first woman to conquer Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Her father, Claude Macdonald, vice-president of the Alpine Club, provided a foundation in climbing, but nothing prepared her for Kilimanjaro’s challenges. Although today’s conditions are more forgiving, climbing the mountain was more challenging in the 19th and 20th centuries, with abundant snow and blizzards. Sheila’s determination and grit continue to inspire us as we tackle our own adventures, including AdventureWomen’s own summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. 


Bessie Coleman: First African American and Native American Woman Pilot 

Bessie Coleman broke barriers as the first woman of African American and Native American descent to earn a pilot’s license in the U.S. She faced discrimination in her quest to attend flight school and traveled to France to earn her license in 1921. Coleman toured the U.S. and Europe, giving flight lessons and performing in air shows. Tragically, she died in a plane crash at the age of 34. Her legacy lies in her fight for equality and her determination, inspiring communities worldwide. 

Bessie Coleman


Elizabeth Cochran (Nelly Bly): Traveled the World in 72 Days 

Elizabeth Cochran, who went under the pen name Nelly Bly, was a pioneering journalist whose work highlighted social injustices. Her most famous feat was a 72-day trip around the world in 1889, challenging Jules Verne’s fictional record “Around the World in Eighty Days,” and proving women’s capabilities in travel. Upon her return, she became a celebrity, lecturing and publishing her experiences. Through her writing, Cochran sparked conversations about important issues and inspired others to fearlessly explore and speak out. 


Jane Goodall: Advocate for Chimpanzees and Environmental Protection 

Jane Goodall dedicated her life to studying and protecting chimpanzees and their environment. Fascinated by nature from a young age, she saved up enough money at 23 to visit Africa. There, she met Dr. Louis Seymour Bazett Leakey, who introduced her to studying chimpanzees at Gombe Stream National Park. Despite Jane lacking a formal education, Leakey admired her passion and open-mindedness. Goodall’s pioneering studies earned her a Ph.D. in 1966 and led to impactful conservation efforts. She later founded the Jane Goodall Institute, advocating for global environmental protection and community involvement. Her work continues today, focusing on preserving chimpanzee habitats and combating deforestation. We admire her on our AdventureWomen travels, and celebrate her achievements, particularly while exploring Uganda. 

Jane Goodall

These women, through their courage, determination, and trailblazing spirits, have left an unforgettable mark on history, inspiring generations to come. AdventureWomen celebrates their legacies and continues to empower women to embark on their own adventures, fueled by passion and the pursuit of travel.