Minimalism, vanlife, traveling, solo female traveler, sober travel, traveling in USA, downsizing.
<I’m keeping this in first person, it’s mostly a transcript of Christina’s interview>
Christina Papavlasopoulos runs two travel related businesses geared toward women. The first is Shefari and the second is Myths and Muses. I recently spoke to Christina about her businesses, her challenges as an entrepreneur, the years she spent as a US expat in Greece and more travel fun! Here’s what she had to say!
Christina: Shefari is essentially the first marketplace for small group travel for women bringing together the best of the best in women’s travel.
The women's travel market is fragmented and we're trying to bring it together and put, all these great trips in one place so that women can find them and they can sort through them on our website. We have different categories and styles. So there's, she restores as more wellness.
There's she praises, which is spiritual. She discovers it's kinda more adventure. She indulges, lots of different things for different ladies.
Whoever you're working with figures out the daily itinerary and that, that kind of thing, like a tour. Some are more retreats, so there's a more transformational aspect to them. They can speak to women going through specific things. Some are focused on business. It depends, but the gist of it is that every single trip is a group tour, built around the essence of connecting women through that trip.
Unfortunately, by being a woman, anywhere you go in the world, even in your own city, there are certain safety precautions you should always take. But the good thing about the trips that we lead is we do try to have these journeys in places that women might not feel comfortable going to alone.
For example, in Egypt, although we tell everything through a very female lens and we try to incorporate as many female vendors as possible. We do have a male tour guide escorting us just for the safety for the translation, in certain countries it's more advantageous to go about it that way.
We partnered with solo female travelers club, it's a Facebook group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/solofemaletravelers
It's a community of over 75,000 women run by two fabulous ladies, Mar and Meg, and essentially, we created the first ever global survey for solo female travelers.
We had a little over 5,000 respondents from all over the world. And we asked everything, their preferences, what would they want the tour industry and the travel industry to know about what fears and motivations do they have, where do they want to go?
How do they want to do it? What really bothers them? So it was an awesome opportunity for us as a tour company and as a, focused marketplace to understand all of that behind it. And 72% said that safety was their main concern. Even housekeeping knocking on the door, they just want to know beforehand.
What surprised me is that's what held women back from traveling. I understand it's a concern, but it was noted as a reason why many don't travel and it's their biggest concern out of anything no matter where they go, even to countries that are maybe perhaps more friendly for solo female travelers.
Link to the survey: https://www.solofemaletravelers.club/2020-solo-female-travel-trends-statistics/
Everyone who worked on survey and everyone in the industry wants to take something this report and improve our offerings to solo female travelers, improve the tourism business at large.
But I think what the gals are gonna do at solo female travelers is they want to create some safety standards and some training. Whether that be hotels or destinations at large can develop some understanding of what the psychology of the solo female traveler is and help alleviate some of those safety concerns just by having the staff properly trained as an example. So they're building an initiative toward that, which I think is fantastic.
KA: I asked Christina what brought her to Greece, where she lived for years.
Christina: I really enjoyed traveling at a young age.I studied abroad in Italy. I did a study tour in London and Paris. I studied fashion and I had an opportunity to work for a wholesale company in Athens, Greece, and immediately jumped on it. I got my Rosetta stone. I tried to learn from my friends. So I very quickly as, as much as, a blonde American in Greece, not stick out, but I tried to acclimate as much as I could.
I learned, the ropes and the culture of living there. And I met my best friend and now business partner, Nektaria at that fashion company. And we realized very quickly, we had complimentary kind of skills and interests as both as a friendship and as a partnership. And we were passionate about the Greek culture and about traveling and about bringing women together which is how we contrived Shefari.
I think I've been to 11 Greek islands. When I talked to some of my Greek friends, they're like, you've been to more islands and I have, and it's just a little bit of that ex-pat mentality, right?
Like sometimes when you're visiting a place, you want to see as much as you can. Cause, it's a fleeting moment in your life. Whereas, the Greeks are like, Oh, I'll see it next year or next year. And a lot of Greeks vacation to their village or their hometown.
Whereas , we would pick a new destination each time. So it really got me to see all the Greek islands and It was just so beautiful. It made me all that more confident in the fact that I wanted to get into travel. And I wanted to share this with people. Everything from cultural things, I was learning to, the off the beaten path places I was going into.
KA: And do you have a favorite?
Christina: Oh, boy, that's a tough question. I have different favorites for different things depending on where I've gone and where it's for. I love islands like Naxos and Paros, which are lesser known Cycladic islands. I love the Island of Crete because there's literally something for everybody. It has amazing, city life and beautiful outdoor bars. They make great cocktails. It’s a really cool place, but then they have these villages where they have such unique cuisine and make their own cheeses and farms. And so there's so many things to see.
And I would say my favorite beaches in Greece are in Kefalonia. My good friend, Maria studied there and had a good, kind of social circle there. So we went there and the West side, I think has the most incredible water in pretty much all of the world, which is hard now because I live in Florida and everyone's "Oh, the beaches" and I'm like, you haven't seen anything.
KA: if you could give your 10 year old child self one piece of advice now, what would it be?
Christina: it's interesting that we go through this full circle experience. So I would say that if I were to tell my younger self some advice, it would be to really hold onto that unbridled imagination, because as we get older, we're told about limits, the way things are done, the way things need to be done.
We're given pretty restrictive ways of thinking. And I feel like entrepreneurship, which just, sparks and lights me up in so many different ways, is just someone trying to change the world in some way. And we're trying to undo that box that we've trapped our creativity in as an adult.
So it's returning to that childlike sense of, dream limitlessly and think of all the possibilities because if you're really going to succeed in something. I love Renee Mauborgne. The theory that is called blue ocean, where you think of everything that a business should be and strip away all the things that you're told it has to be. Instead of thinking about what the customer wants, you're creating a blue ocean, meaning you don't even have competitors because you're offering something so different and that's really hard to do in tourism.
An entrepreneur said something along the lines of, “if your dreams don't scare you, then you're not, they're not big enough”. (KA looked it up and it was Ellen Johnson Sirleaf). And I've also heard people say, “if people aren't laughing at your dreams, they're not big enough”. Why do we get to such a limiting point that we laugh at someone's, big dreams?
I have a lot of friends, not just in travel, but across the board who have lost jobs <during the pandemic>. And I'm like, what if you started a podcast? Or what if you did this? Or that? <And they say> Yeah, no, that doesn't make money.
We immediately start with that limiting belief. Nope. Because it's never been done. That's not the way my industry does it. That's not the way I was taught to be successful. I think that if people can really just let their imagination run and see what's possible in the world, then there's still a whole lot of new, innovative companies to come about.
KA: THANK YOU CHRISTINA!
For links to more of what Christina talked about here please see the show notes page here.
If you haven't listened to the entire podcast episode and you want to, you can listen here or on your favorite podcast platform!
Thank you so much for reading and listening and following :)
Hi, I'm Kimberly Anne! (aka K.A.)
This is where you'll be notified of some bloggings, podcast episodes and my upcoming classes at discounted prices!
You have successfully joined our subscriber list.