Wanderfest: Connecting with Wanderful Women

woman facing ferris wheel while making heart hand sign

When my now pal Lauren Pelkey (@Wanderlulu) reached out to me about going to Wanderfest I hesitated. The week after that I was already going to be in New York City for a travel conference. Plus, it was finals week in my graduate program. But, when it came down to it, I couldn’t resist the allure of the first outdoor travel festival for women–so I accepted!

My pal Giselle and I hopped down to New Orleans, for the second time in three months, to celebrate women in travel during Women’s History Month. This was the first time Wanderful, an online community for female travelers, was hosting the event. While Mother Nature had other plans for that weekend, which was unexpectedly cold and super windy, we all made the most of our time together. Even a tornado warning wasn’t going to stop all of us from having fun! Even if it meant drinking sparkling wine in the basement of the Sazerac House. 

Giselle and I in the basement of the Sazerac House during the event mixer.

Our first event at Wanderfest was learning about The Orisha with Nana Sula. Gathering in the home of this remarkable spiritual woman, surrounded by her artwork and pieces she has collected through the years, to learn and sing. That was the best way we could have started the weekend. Only six of us signed up for this program, but of all the women at Wanderfest we were the luckiest to have started our empowering weekend with Nana Sula. 

When we arrived at Nana Sula’s home we met another festival attendee, Mahoney. We were immediately a kindred spirits. I asked for her Instagram handle so we could connect later only to realize we were already Insta friends! Isn’t it funny how we can sense friendship with others? This happened more than once over the course of this weekend too! This only further reminded me that the world of female travel is tight-knit even if it seems so big. 

Though my friends from Vai Athletica couldn’t be there, I had their digital business card on hand. I’m all about empowering female business owners while also making packing easier because no bra on Earth packs better than a Vai. If someone wants to prove me wrong, I accept the challenge. Unless the answer is to not pack a bra at all, in which case I cannot disagree. 

A tasty beverage during the Saturday night Wanderfest bar crawl.

As our world continues to open back up, seeing so many women in community with one another was truly inspiring. I didn’t expect Wanderfest to hit me as hard as it did in that regard. After all, it was a feel-good, have fun kind of festival. Yet, getting a chance to meet so many women, some of whom I already knew from social media, in real life felt different. We’ve collectively spent such a long time in solitude during the pandemic, being in a gathering feels foreign now. 

I am so grateful I had the opportunity to see the first Wanderfest. Although the weekend was far from perfect. First events often are in outdoor venues with potential bad weather scenarios, yet I’m glad I got to bear witness to it. Throughout our weekend at Wanderfest we met amazing entrepreneurs, creators, and fellow wanderers who cannot get enough of the world. I left New Orleans with a revitalized spirit. Writing about travel, experiencing everything the world has to offer, and sharing those joys with other people who get it? There’s nothing like it.


Published by Amanda Finn

Founder of Dream Suitcase, Amanda Finn is an award-winning travel, theater and lifestyle journalist.

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