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Spotlighting Incredible Women in Travel: An Interview with Kelly Lewis of “The Go! Girl Guides”

by Rina Nehdar

Mar 4, 2020

Photo: Thamrongpat Theerathammakorn – Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

Part four of our four-part series spotlighting incredible women in travel highlights Kelly Lewis of The Go! Girl Guides. Lewis had traveled solo much of her life when she realized the experiences she and her friends were having on their own didn’t match the advice in the currently available guidebooks at the time, so she launched her own. The Go! Girl Guides are the first travel guide books focused on safety and affordability for women. She went on to start a travel convention for women, Women’s Travel Fest, and a women-only tour company, Damesly.


WhereverFamily: Did you feel any fear that your passion to succeed wouldn’t be accepted by your family and/or friends?


Kelly Lewis: No. I think my family is proud of me for taking a dream and turning it into a career. Even if that means they don’t know where in the world I am half the time.


WF: What do you feel were your biggest obstacles?


KL: In the beginning, everything was a challenge. I had a degree and experience as a journalist, but I had no idea how to launch a guidebook company. I made a ton of mistakes, and lost a lot of money on things I thought I needed but didn’t. Like hiring a PR firm too soon. Then it was just financial. I worked as a bartender and bar manager for several years as I was building my businesses, and didn’t go full-time into entrepreneurship until last year, a full 8.5 years after I launched Go! Girl Guides. Sometimes it takes longer than you hope — but I never, ever quit.


Kelly Lewis of “The Go! Girl Guides”


WF: Can you share a funny moment that happened as you proceeded to succeed?


KL: No, but I can tell you, the most exciting day of my decade came when The New York Times wrote a feature about me. And that day, as excited as I was, I hid under the covers of my bed for at least a couple of hours. I hid! I was terrified. It can be so scary opening yourself up to the world, opening yourself up for conversation and judgement.


After a bit of hiding, I realized I was being so silly! We don’t fulfill our highest potential by hiding — that’s just fear. So a friend came over, pulled the covers off me, forced me to dress up and took me out to celebrate with mimosas. You have to have your people, and keep those people close.


WF: Can you share any inspiring moments that kept you going even when it got tough?


KL: There are so many challenges in building businesses, especially when you’re a team of one, and you’re at your seams! For me, it took recognizing that the job that paid the bills (bartending) was also what was keeping my other companies from thriving. And I knew as long as I had that safety net, I wouldn’t have to push as hard.


Leaving that cushy job behind was hard, and my whole life kind of blew up. My boyfriend and I broke up, there was a death in my family, everything kind of hit the fan. It was like the universe was testing me saying “you sure you want this? You really want this?” But I did. And a couple of months later, I started creating consistent income in my businesses and I never looked back.


WF: What words can you share with other women who want to achieve your success?


KL: Success is different from person to person. For me, it’s less about money and more about effect. It’s about community, and creating good. I’ve taken a lot of time recently to reflect on the past decade, and all of the ups and downs that come with it. At the end of the day for me it comes down to answering yes to three questions: Are you creating good in the world? Are you helping people? Are you living the highest purpose of your life? That, to me, is success.


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