Margaret Mead wrote in 1928, “As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own.”
Mead’s musings could be a mantra for Wild Terrains travel company. Focusing on distinctive and culturally-rich destinations for the creative-minded, Wild Terrains leads women-only group trips that support female entrepreneurs in Mexico City and Portugal. All trip itineraries include accommodations at female-owned hotels, meals prepared by up-and-coming female chefs, and experiences that connect travelers with local women entrepreneurs, artists and designers.
Accounting for nearly two-thirds of travelers today, women continue to dominate the travel industry globally. Wild Terrains founder Lauren Bates is an avid traveler herself with a deep passion for connecting people and creating meaningful experiences. She has traveled to more than 35 countries and lived in both Argentina and Peru. Prior to Wild Terrains, Bates was chief marketing officer at UrbanStems, where she dreamed up and launched their collaboration with Vogue.
The idea for Wild Terrains germinated for two years before its actual inception and might not have come to fruition at all had Bates not faced a career crossroads; she was fired from UrbanStems. Like many intelligent, driven women she at first felt isolated and avoided sharing this information. However, she soon learned that “so many women seem to have the same story. This thing that I felt very isolated in was actually a common experience.” In a serendipitous turn of events, Bates would create the opportunity for women to share even more experiences through Wild Terrains.
“Women are so dynamic and part of the reason they travel is to have this transformative experience—they’ve just retired, they’re divorced, or they hate their job; or maybe they’re just taking a trip with their mom.” Bates says. “I think companies sometimes do a disservice because people don’t just travel on a whim. It’s consistent throughout your life—taking a break and going somewhere that will inspire you.”
Bates started her company with trips to Mexico City. Originally from Texas, and surrounded by native Mexicans, Bates has a nostalgic view of Mexico. More practically, Mexico City’s high elevation meant that it was Zika-free, a concern for many female travelers. Bates also notes “Mexico City has really boomed in the last year, but at the time it was just emerging as a dynamic city that had been untapped … I want to find places that feel off the beaten path.”
Some of the Mexico City trip itinerary highlights include:
Wild Terrains doesn’t just pay lip-service to the concept of trips for women. Instead, every aspect of their itineraries prioritizes supporting women-owned businesses (from the hotel you sleep in to the food you eat) and they donate one percent of the profits from each trip to a local organization that supports women entrepreneurs.
In addition, Bates notes that at Wild Terrains, “We also proactively name all of the women that we work with—we post about them on social media and we’re building out the content on them on our website. Even though that’s kind of a travel company’s intellectual property, we’ve decided that we’re going to start with the partners first, we’re going to treat them really well, and we’re going to talk about them everywhere. We want them to feel like we’re driving their business forward.”
Building on the success of their trips to Mexico, the company has added Portugal as a destination. Selected for warmth and cultural offerings, Portugal’s trip includes:
It’s impressive growth for a company that was only founded in 2018. Asked about her future plans for the company, Bates notes that venture capital awards about only two percent of its annual funding to women. Bates paid her early bills by consulting on the side. Wild Terrains hasn’t taken any outside funding, with Bates’ goal that they won’t ever take venture capital money. Her hard work is paying off—projections show that a year and a half in, Wild Terrains will be profitable.
Bates hopes to see Wild Terrains spread across the globe. “Our real mission as a brand is to create space for women to connect with each other around the world.”
Women-only trips designed around design, art and food.
Eight to 10 people, average ages 25-70
Mexico City and Portugal
Elizabeth Kosar is a writer and communications strategist in Denver. She enjoys traveling and boasts an ability to pack light.
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