Finding a safety net in the experiences of the unknown

Through my own adventures, I realized women needed a great resource for traveling abroad.

Looking tough in Egypt (photo credit: RACHEL SALES)
Looking tough in Egypt
(photo credit: RACHEL SALES)
When I was 18, I headed to Israel to spend the summer volunteering on a kibbutz. This had been a rite of passage in my family. I’d grown up hearing stories about my father’s experience on Kibbutz Mahanayim, where he once witnessed a chicken run around without its head, and my mother’s experience on Kibbutz Mishmar Hanegev, where she was paid in chocolate and cigarettes.
I expected my adventure to include anecdotes like these – as well as working in the fields, meeting young people like me from all over the world, and practicing my Hebrew. But my experience on a kibbutz in the northern Galilee was nothing like that. When I look back on all the mistakes I made that summer, I realize that they gave me the foundation I needed to become a strong female traveler.
It was on the kibbutz that summer that I learned how to size up a driver before hopping into any old hitchhike on the side of the road; I learned that it’s essential to develop trusting relationships before drinking too much in a crowd; I learned how to set boundaries when traveling with a guy friend; and I learned how one amazing adventure abroad only fuels the fire for more.
Each summer and winter break, I continued to travel throughout the world – and though I thoroughly planned for each trip, I discovered that as a female traveler, I always faced unexpected challenges along the way. On a trip to Fez, Morocco, I found that my jeans and sweaters didn’t stop people from ogling me, so I purchased a jallabiyah in the local market to cover up. In Kiev, Ukraine, I heard that intercity overnight trains could be dangerous for solo women travelers, so I canceled my trip to Odessa. While volunteering in Beersheba, I found that a local Israeli student wasn’t just helping me build the website I’d promised a nonprofit because he cared about Russian immigrants; instead, he was trying to hook up with me.
When I landed a job at MASA Israel in New York, I found a community where we used to hear about women’s escapades all the time. I used to joke with my co-worker, Jaclyn Mishal, that we should create a guide for women about dating in Israel.
Then we realized it wasn’t a joke after all. We realized women travelers really needed a great resource for traveling abroad.
Throughout my trips, I’d wished I’d had a place to connect with other women travelers and ask them about their experiences abroad.
That’s how Pink Pangea, the community for women travelers, was born. On Pink Pangea, women all over the world have shared their travel experiences, writing about the challenges they’ve faced, the obstacles they’ve overcome, the beautiful places they’ve seen – inspiring other women to get out there and see the world.
The writer is co-founder of, the community for women travelers.