Since she was a little girl, Jodi Wei had a dream to travel the world. Born and raised in China, she grew up in an environment where women were expected to behave in certain ways and meet seemingly-outdated cultural expectations. Even though this ideology faded after moving to the United States. There was still this perpetual compulsion in her - a deep-seated desire to flee the monotonous nature of the everyday life she lived, so escape all expectations and to experience something new, something meaningful. Adventure was calling.
Tell us about your first life-changing travel experience.
One day, I eagerly announced that I had finally quit my job to fulfill my dream and embark on a solo expedition around the world. To no surprise, everybody thought I was out of my mind. My friends thought I wouldn’t be able to pull off a solo trip, telling me horror stories about how dangerous the world really was. Even my unfailingly supportive husband believed that it was a mission impossible and that I would return home within my first month. However, with little but my passport and a few changes of clothes in hand, I proved to be a woman of my word and returned home 14 months, 27 countries and 7 continents later, having successfully accomplished my goal of traveling the globe.
How did this trip change your perspective?
This trip helped me build an inner strength I never knew was there and inspired a belief in myself—a belief that I could do anything. But there was something beyond the personal growth and fulfillment that I gained living life on the road, a realization that one can only reach by truly seeing and experiencing how other people live.
It all dawned on me during a multi-day trekking trip in the Everest region of Nepal, where I had visited Khumjung, a small village situated just miles from the majestic Himalayas. I was wandering around the village when I spotted several women doing farm work and building houses, jobs that were usually done by the men in Nepal. I asked my guide why and he told me that those women were widows. Their husbands were expedition staff and had died in an avalanche when summiting the Everest. Fortunately, these particular women were able to learn the essential skills to make a living on their own and help each other along the way. Not all women are that lucky.
Women living in underdeveloped countries such as Nepal customarily have little-to-no education, land rights or independent income. They are voiceless and in need of help. Empathy swelled inside of me after seeing how strong those women were and how they supported each other in order to merely survive. That day I headed back to camp forever changed, with a fresh perspective on traveling and an urge to truly find a way to help those in need. That’s what inspired me to start Travel Her Way.
What is Travel Her Way?
Travel Her Way gathers adventuresses from across the globe and takes them on once-in-a-lifetime expedition trips to the world’s most breathtaking destinations. Through our charity initiative, Care Her Way, every woman traveler also gets to give back to the places and people they visit. On our upcoming Everest Base Camp Trek, women are given an inside look into the local culture and the opportunity to hike the world’s tallest peak, Mount Everest. Explorers then spend part of their trip teaching Nepalese women life and leadership skills, women’s rights and basic English. Beyond the local women, with every trek group we bring to Nepal, we will also cover a year’s worth of education for one child.
How has this experience changed your perception on travel?
Simply put, travel is more than just a vacation. The feeling of returning home from a life-changing adventure knowing that you’ve also made a difference in lives of others—that is something much more valuable than any photograph or souvenir ever would be. Women of the world helping other women of the world, leaving our destinations far better than we found them—I think that’s my real dream come true.