Gallivanting dreamers will explore the world from a girl’s perspective at the first-ever Women’s Travel Fest in New York this Saturday.

The one-day seminar hosted on International Women’s Day, March 8, is anticipated to bring upward of 400 women to Manhattan to learn about other gallivanting women’s adventures on the road, says Kelly Lewis, founder of Go! Girl Guides and Women’s Travel Fest.

An additional workshop about the digital office and working anywhere in the world will follow the day after on March 9.

“I am just in awe. I am just blown away,” says Kelly, 27, about the list of speakers who will be presenting at the travel festival.

Kelly has attracted the travel industry’s most inspiring gallivanting gals to New York to meet and mingle with aspiring and experienced women travelers who have traveled down that road to Asia, the Middle East, South America or where ever any girl’s heart desires to go.

Girls ready to hit the open road will learn from the best travel industry and media experts, such as the Travel Channel‘s Samantha Brown, PBS Emmy-nominated executive producer and host of Family Travel with Colleen Kelly’s Colleen Kelly; Travel + Leisure’s Jacqui Gifford; Budget Travel Magazine’s Christine Maxfield and Travelocity’s Courtney Scott; Expedia’s Sarah Gavin, creator of Expedia Viewfinder blog among other innovative technology and social media programs; Planeterra Foundation, G Adventures non-profit foundation’s Adrienne Lee and Wanderlust and Lipstick and WanderTour’s founder Beth Whitman.

Human rights activist and journalist Sarah Shroud, one of the keynote speakers at the Women's Travel Fest. (Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Shroud)
Human rights activist and journalist Sarah Shroud, one of the keynote speakers at the Women’s Travel Fest. (Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Shroud)

Learn how to travel from the heart and without fear from human rights activist and journalist Sarah Shourd, who spent 410 days in solitary confinement when she, along with her now-husband Shane Bauer and friend Josh Fattal, were detained in Iran in 2009.

“I find her story so inspirational. I’m very excited to hear her speak,” says Kelly.

Or simply learn how to be a star from a whole new breed of girl wanders blogging their way around the world and webcasting their adventures, such as Fluenz founder Sonia Gil, who is also the award-winning travel web host of Sonia’s Travels; Travelista TV™’s Teri Johnson; travel documentarian The Wireless Generation and Almost Fearless blogger Christine Gilbert; Travel with Kate host Kate Thomas; Unbrave Girl travel blogger Sally Thelen; award-winning travel and food blogger Carol Cain and travel writer and award-winning blogger of Breathe, Dream, Go’s Mariellen Ward.

“Everything is meant to be empowering,” says Kelly. “Everything is meant to help women travel.”

Dreaming Wide and Far

It was only a few short years ago that Kelly was an editorial drone sitting in her cubical under florescent beams shining down on her. Manuscripts stacked up around her as she looked out across the other cubicles toward the distant window providing a small view out into the world.

It wasn’t Kelly’s idea of the perfect editing job. The manuscripts weren’t the problem. Kelly was fresh from a six month adventure in South America after graduating from college. She was boxed in when the world was calling her in her dreams, quite literally.

Not to sound new agey, but her vision of inspiring women to get out onto the road and travel around the world came to her in the middle of the night in a dream, she says. The real possibility of the dream didn’t hit her until the middle of her uninspiring work week when one of the beams of “horrible florescent light” hit her: travel guidebooks for women.

“You totally should have thought of this,” says Kelly about the thoughts flowed through her mind. “This could have been your destiny.”

The thought jolted Kelly. She was working three jobs saving up money. She realized her purpose: she wanted to help women like her travel affordably and safely. In spite of having no publishing experience beyond editing and being a journalist, Kelly found a lawyer that day to launch Go! Girl Guides, with her personal funds.

Kelly Lewis, founder of Go! Girl Guides and Women's Travel Fest (Photo: Courtesy of Go! Girl Guides and Women's Travel Fest)
Kelly Lewis, founder of Go! Girl Guides and Women’s Travel Fest (Photo: Courtesy of Go! Girl Guides and Women’s Travel Fest)

“I’ve always, always wanted to travel,” says Kelly, who grew up in Oahu, Hawaii, but didn’t begin traveling until after she graduated from college. Her family wasn’t explorers, so she watched Samantha on the Travel Channel and dreamed, but, “Once I got out into the world there was no stopping me.”

“It feeds my soul. I want to see things and experience things,” continues Kelly, who likes solo travel.

“Solo travel is so important because it helps define who you are and what you want in life,” says Kelly, who gets grounded and humbled during her journeys. “Travel has always been a really great way to connect with the bigger picture and this world.”

Three months after her epiphany she was traveling through Thailand working on her first guidebook.

That was in December 2010. A year later she published the first guidebook, Go! Girl Guide to Thailand.

“The response has been really great,” says Kelly, about Go! Girl Guides. Three more guides covering Argentina, Mexico and London followed the Thailand guide.

To-date about 3,000 guides sold and Costa Rica and New York are next up to hit local bookshelves.

Girls World

Last spring, Kelly traveled across the United States promoting Go! Girl Guides.

In each city, women – young and old – came to her from all over with their concerns and fears, “I want to travel, but I’m scared,” and “I want to be safe.”

As she spoke with each woman she saw the worry lines and the fear in their eyes disappear as she answered their questions and talked about her adventures.

“It felt great to alleviate women’s fears and share some amazing stories and just really get women energized and excited about traveling,” says Kelly.

The response was so overwhelming that she returned to New York, where she had recently relocated the company from Tuscan, Arizona, and began planning the Women’s Travel Fest.

Girls jump for adventure. (Photo: Courtesy of Go! Girl Guides and Women's Travel Fest)
Girls jump for adventure. (Photo: Courtesy of Go! Girl Guides and Women’s Travel Fest)

“I just want to be at the forefront of women travel and keep doing what I’m doing,” says Kelly, excited about what she’s created. “When you fill a room with just strong wonderful women nothing but great things can happen.”

“I’m just so excited this is going to be great,” says Kelly.

Hit the road at the Women’s Travel Fest, March 8 at the Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts, 172 Norfolk St, New York, (212) 529-7194(212) 529-7194. Tickets are $75 for the festival and $25 for the workshop. Get your traveling shoes on at the Women’s Travel Fest, visit, or Go! Girl Guides, visit

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