This week we got to sit down with Megan Jerrard, founder of Mapping Megan, Solo Female Travelers Club and Co-Founder of Waking Up Wild. As travel begins to tentatively open back up, we’re all feeling an incredibly pent up desire to explore! Enjoy this chat with Megan as we share some of her top destinations!
Both you and your husband Mike are avid travellers (and quite the adventurers!) can you share a bit of your background of how you came to travel full-time and your experience as a travel writer?
Ever since my first trip abroad at 18, I’ve loved to travel, and when I returned from my gap year abroad (I worked as a teaching assistant in a UK school, and travelled Europe during term breaks), I vowed to make travel as central to my life as possible. I wasn’t willing to accept a life of one trip a year when there was so much more of the world to explore!
I studied Journalism and Law at University, and right as I graduated in 2013, the online world of blogging was starting to make noise. I knew people were making money from online content creation, and running travel blogs, so I decided not to pursue a career in law, and to go all-in on creating my own business through the blog.
Both Mike and I picked up hospitality work in-between our travels (cocktail waitressing in Florida, golf courses in Arizona) while building an online presence, and within a year our hard work paid off! It finally got to the point where we were making enough of a consistent, stable income to allow us to travel full time, and work from the road.
Travel writing is my dream job, and working for yourself is an added bonus because you can cover the stories and assignments you personally love. It’s definitely not all glamour and ‘laptops on the beach’ as Instagram likes to make it look – there are definitely long hours, and hard work involved, i.e. you’ll often be out exploring all day, and then come back at 6 pm for 8 hours of work to meet commitments, and keep everything running.
But I’m happy to work long hours, and into weird hours of the morning if it means my office is in the Galapagos Islands one week, and Antarctica the next!
Why did you feel the need to create the Solo Female Travelers brand?
Because there’s a truly annoying stereotype that women don’t travel solo, or that it’s not safe, or that women shouldn’t travel solo. And it’s all nonsense.
So Solo Female Travelers exists (it’s a 72,000 member Facebook Group which any travel-loving female is welcome to join), to smash those stereotypes, to inspire and connect women who love to travel solo, and to empower those who maybe believe that they can’t, because of what they’ve been (incorrectly) told. We have members from over 100 countries, so it’s also a fabulous place to seek information from other female travellers, or from locals who live in a country you’re going to.
Do you have a favourite corner of the globe that you can share with our readers?
Italy. Because between the culture, the history, the stunning countryside, and the friendly, hospitable nature of the Italian people, who doesn’t love an excuse to eat pizza and gelato every day of the week?!
Bolivia. From visiting witches markets to seeing women in bowler hats crafting straw boats, and exploring the Amazon (a squirrel monkey almost stole our GoPro!!) it was an incredible experience, and very far removed from home.
Antarctica – From dawn until dusk we were hiking, kayaking, exploring, swimming (yes – I did the polar plunge and it’s FREEZING!!), sliding down glacial mountain tops, visiting a research base, camping on the ice, and getting up close to incredible wildlife. This is one of the most pristine, untamed, untouched, and undiscovered corners of the globe, and it really felt like true exploration. Every single view was a National Geographic cover!
Where do you see yourself in a few years?
Right now, we’re continuing to explore our new island State of Tasmania; it’s a combination of Iceland and New Zealand packed into a super small little island, though without the crazy tourism – we’re loving it! We’ve set up a permanent base here, so expect to still be here in a few years.
What’s next on your bucket list?
It was Antarctica, now it’s Namibia. Think elephants trekking across swathes of deserts, surreal ethereal landscapes, shipwrecks scattered along the coast, and one of the oldest remaining hunter and gatherer tribes in the world.
How do you think travel will be affected by COVID in future?
I think mass tourism will definitely fade, as people seek out socially distant experiences, so we can only hope that destinations that have previously struggled with the effects of this (like Venice, Barcelona, Rome etc), will use this time to work on developing solid and sustainable tourism strategies to avoid taking the same path we’ve gone down before.
We’ll definitely see increased safety precautions at airports, like temperature checks and thermal imaging, and measures like face masks are likely to become a cultural norm in most countries. It’ll be an interesting space to watch evolve.
Please let us know where to find you!
Please do visit us at Mappingmegan.com – you can find us @mappingmegan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. And for any female travellers out there, you’re welcome to join our Facebook Group which is called Solo Female Travelers (FIRST FB group for women who travel solo!).