Women Who Explore
"She believed she could. So she did" - R.S. Grey
From scaling mountains more than 6000 metres and encountering erupting volcanoes and avalanches, along the way to flying in a military jet with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds (for fun), Ashlyn’s taste for unique adventures has carried her around the world with a brimming bag of experiences to share. She runs a successful blog, The Lost Girl's Guide, that serves as an inspiration to many adventure enthusiasts. As Ashlyn inspires you to head outdoors, venture in confidence with the Avenza Maps App.
If you are new to solo adventure trips, coordinates have been made easy to comprehend, navigate to and share, our in-app feature, what3words. If you aren't an outdoors rookie and intend on paving a new path to a destination, there are a handful of ways you can do this. One way is to use our in-app feature 'Create A Route' and share the excitement with your community! Ashlyn George has had similar experiences. Her enthusiastic spirit and purpose align with our mission to support hikers, bikers and trailblazers. Here are her responses to specific questions related to International Women's Day:
What does International Women's Day mean to you?
Women are showing how multi-dimensional they can be. They might be a business-savvy CEO by day, a doting mom to three kids at night and on the weekends, an adventurous white water canoer or backcountry hiker carrying home-baked snacks in their pack. We’re breaking down stereotypes of what it looks like and what it means to be an adventurer.
Women in the outdoors represent all body types, all backgrounds and all abilities. We’re proving that we are strong, we are capable and most importantly - we are adventurous.
What does it mean to be a solo woman explorer in the part of the world and society you live in?
There has been no better time in history than now to be an independent female exploring the world (acknowledging current limitations due to COVID, of course). As a Canadian, my passport is a privileged ticket to accessing travel and adventure - whether that’s in my own backyard or on the other side of another continent.
My most empowering and transformative moments in life have come through the independence of solo travel. I know I am capable of anything I choose because of the experiences I’ve been able to navigate on my own in dozens of countries across the world.
You mentioned in one of your blogs how you resonate with the idea of creating your opportunities, could you elaborate on the opportunity that paved the way for you to cross boundaries, literally speaking?
If you want to do something, you need to take the steps to make it happen. That usually means allocating time, research, education and budgeting to make it a reality. It also might mean reaching out to people who can connect you, mentor you or point you in the right direction.
Through travel, I learned that the only thing stopping me from doing something was whether I said “yes” or “no” to it. Once you decide you want to do something, then the real work begins to make it happen.
After university, my philosophy was if I could spend 5 years learning in an institution, I could spend 5 years learning in the world. But I needed to figure out how to make it happen: how would I save money? How would I pay off $40,000 in student loan debt while travelling? How would I prepare myself for travelling around the world on my own?
I had to figure out answers to these questions before I could make it a reality. It wasn’t easy, but it was possible! The first step was realizing I shouldn’t let travelling alone stop me – this was my dream and it was my responsibility to make it happen. Budgeting, paying down student loan debt and careful trip planning to locations that let my money go further were the second steps. The third was being able to learn-on-the-go to optimize and maximize the opportunities I had.
You run a successful blog site and continue to engage with like-minded individuals, keeping explorers inspired, motivated and engaged during these unprecedented times. Would you have any additional words of advice from one adventurer to another?
I joke that one of the reasons why I’ve ended up where I am today is because I was too stubborn to give up. But there’s a lot of truth to that.
Success doesn’t come from what you do occasionally. It comes from what you do consistently. Expertise and personal growth come from repeated practice.
Learning a new skill is rarely easy and not glamorous – especially as an adult (which is particularly important to note in this age of curated social media feeds). There are trips, falls, unsuccessful attempts and a lot of straight-up failures. But those are the moments when you grow and learn. So never give up - especially when it’s hard, frustrating or embarrassing. Keep pushing forward because every step you take, every bit of effort you put in will get you to where you want to be.
Plus, the best stories come from experiences that didn’t turn out how you expected or wanted them to. (Always a silver lining).
How do you stay motivated and inspired to be the model you are to explorers out there? Any woman, in particular, you would like to acknowledge for the same?
I am truly passionate about what I do and that makes it easier for me to stay motivated. My love of adventure and the outdoors is what keeps me going when it might be hard or exhausting or challenging.
My mom is one of the most important people in my life. She’s my best friend, my confidant, my cheerleader, my sympathizer and my shoulder when I need it. She’s also been my travel companion on many occasions. No matter how crazy my ideas, trips and plans can be, she supports me regardless. I don’t know what I’d do without her in my life.