Nellie Bly, A pioneer in female solo travel

In 1885, a young lady just 21 years old read an article titled “What Girls are Good For” in a Pittsburg newspaper. Her written response to the paper impressed the editor so much, that he offered her a job as a writer, with the pen name “Nellie Bly”. Nellie went on to prove that women had brains, heart, and courage to do anything that men could, despite what the article had previously reported.

Nelly Bly, world traveller

Image found on Wikipedia

Nellie began traveling to other places as an investigative journalist, broadening her knowledge of cultural, political, and social issues, and giving raw accounts of the groups and tribes she encountered.

She was one of the first female travel writers, and after studying her, I can see that her vagabond spirit propelled her further than other women of her time and geographical location. She had an unprecedented idea to travel the world alone in fewer days than the male character in the book “Around the World in Eighty Days”. Women did not travel without escorts because it was said that they were too delicate, and that they had too many belongings to take with them. But Nellie, unwilling to be held down by anyone’s expectations or rules, boarded a ship alone with the clothes on her back, a few under garments, a coat, and a small bag of toiletries. This puts my “one luggage per family member” rule to shame.

Not only did Nellie complete the trip, despite several setbacks, she did it in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds after her departure. Her arrival home was met with applause by men and women alike, as she accomplished something no one else in her position had done before.

Nellie Bly around the world in 72 days

Image found on Nellie Bly Online

From this point in her life on, Nellie made decisions that rung true to her own convictions and beliefs. She traveled to many more places that American women dared not, and she uncovered and reported a myriad of disgraceful political and social issues that were hidden from the public. In one of her adventures, she posed as an insane person in order to get an inside look of life in an asylum. When she revealed the conditions through her detailed report, a judge granted a huge budget increase to care for the patients there.

When each of us takes a step on a journey, we do it out of conviction or curiosity. When we find our strength to leave familiarity for something more meaningful, we are raw, vulnerable, and unable to use our comforts and belongings as crutches. We see things the way they really are, and we relate to people more honestly and openly. Often we find more than we set out for. In the beginning, Nellie just wrote a letter addressing the fact that women were valuable. In the end, she became one of the first well-known female travel writers, investigative journalists, and advocates for social justice of her time. She shaped herself and her surroundings with each step she took in her journey- just like we do as we travel our own roads.

Sources and more information on Nellie:
Nellie Bly Online

Posted by | Comments (2)  | November 25, 2013
Category: Female Travelers, General

2 Responses to “Nellie Bly, A pioneer in female solo travel”

  1. Barefoot Reading: This Week’s Recommended Stories and Insights from Around the World Says:

    […] Nellie Bly, A Pioneer in Female Solo Travel […]

  2. Autumn’s Article Round Up- December | One mom, two kids, world travelers. Says:

    […] previous article for was written as a research project on a solo female traveler, Nellie Bly, who is another personal hero of mine. This article was featured on Barefoot Journal. Be sure to […]