MEETING THE WORLD’S MOST BADASS FEMALE EXPLORER

To celebrate Earth Month 2015, Contiki Cares brought together two incredible women, YouTuber Alli Speed and legendary documentarian Celine Cousteau, to talk all things sustainability. In this exclusive interview, we dig a little deeper into Celine's extraordinary life and uncover THOSE misconceptions surrounding female travel...

Which female figures have inspired you in your life?

Both my mother and grandmother inspired me because they lived their lives with passion, traveling the world one as a photographer, and the other as the caregiver and confidant to my grandfather’s crew aboard his expedition ship. This was at a time when it wasn’t as common for women to do this kind of work. I admire women like Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar) who lead without compromise, both empowering their country’s people and future women leaders. These are women who live with true conviction and purpose.

 

Exploration is a field historically dominated by male figures – why do you think it is so important for women to try and regain or establish a place in the area of exploration?

It doesn’t feel like we need to regain a place in this area but rather we need to establish that we have always existed in this space in some form but haven’t had as much access or exposure, until now. There are many women in the field, working as scientists, great sports figures trekking to far off lands, photographers bringing back incredible stories, and women participating in expeditions. What needs to happen now is we need to turn our lens towards those incredible women (who may not have otherwise shouted out their accomplishments) and we should honour their life’s work by sharing their stories with young women and girls to show the possibilities they have in so many areas that can be called ‘exploration’.

If you are traveling solo, think about meeting up with other women while on the road and share part of the journey with them - there are many stories of wonderful friendships started this way.

Do you think there are any preconceptions about solo female travel?

Safety as a solo female traveler is an issue as there are places and cultures that might not be as safe for women on their own. This is perhaps not ‘fair’ but it is a reality and until those places and the view of women changes, it will remain as such. There is also the notion that a woman traveling alone might either be brave or unsafe. My sense of this is that if a female traveling alone has made her decision based on a researched and informed choice on how and where she travels, then she is making a wise choice.

 

What advice would you offer for female travellers?

Do your research and make good decisions based on your safety and your interests. If you are traveling solo, think about meeting up with other women while on the road and share part of the journey with them- there are many stories of wonderful friendships started this way. The way women dress isn’t the same everywhere so be respectful of where you are. No one is asking you to change who you are, you are simply changing the clothes you are wearing. This is all part of being a more informed, thoughtful, and respectful traveler (and this goes for women and men). There is also a great source for women travelers that I would recommend for information and advice: www.journeywoman.com

If I can inspire people to change how they see their relationship with our global human community and think in a more united way, then I am doing what I am here for.

Have you ever thought to create or develop any facility to help further exploration of the world much like your Grandfather invented scuba?

My grandfather worked with an engineer to invent SCUBA and at the root of all his work, this was the power of his leadership- he took his ideas and carried them out with the right team to make them real. Though I have not invented a new tool (facility?) for exploration, I try to work in collaboration as a tremendous form of effective change that turns mere ideas into reality. Inventing has taken on a whole new meaning in this new world of technology where ideas take flight at lightning speed. In the world of advocacy and filmmaking, those tools help us be more effective and better storytellers. They can also clutter the real heart of why we explore. Balance is important.

 

How would you like your legacy to be remembered?

If I can inspire people to change how they see their relationship with our global human community and think in a more united way, then I am doing what I am here for. Encompassed in this is a need to connect people to the natural world, understanding we rely on its well-being for our own. But changing human consciousness to think like one community is not something I can do alone- so I hope to be a catalyst of sorts. Hopefully I have many more years ahead of me to accomplish some form of this!

To discover more about Contiki Cares and the work that they do just head to contiki.com/contikicares