Until just a few decades ago, simply stepping outside of the male-dominated household was an act of rebellion. Yet women still chased freedom in faraway places, writing about their experiences in order to challenge restrictive cultural norms. These weren’t just wealthy European spinsters but mothers, scientists, and alpinists from diverse global cultures. Biruté Galdikas studied orangutans in the jungles of Borneo, bringing conservation and eco-advocacy to the public with her memoir Reflections of Eden. In Isabelle Eberhardt’s diary, The Nomad, she describes dressing like a man to find acceptance with indigenous North African tribes. And Zora Neale Hurston initiated herself into the voodoo practices of Caribbean islands though her anthropological travelogue, Tell My Horse, didn’t gain attention until after her death.
In pushing the limitations of their own locations, ladies also campaigned against the status quo. So no matter how challenging your own travel restrictions might feel right now, these books will remind you that women have a history of traveling beyond stereotypical boundaries — both through their movements and their words.
1. All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou
Angelou only intended to help settle her son into university in