WITS 14: Top 5 inspirational quotes from speakers at the 2014 Women in Travel Summit

This weekend, I joined hundreds of women from all over the world at the 2014 Women in Travel Summit (WITS) at the Palmer House in downtown Chicago. The first-ever travel blogging summit for women aimed to provide female traveler bloggers with the opportunity to gain expert advice and connect with the "global sisterhood of traveling women" – and that it did.

Over the course of a day and a half, I met women from all over the US, Mexico, Brazil and Venezula. I met women who weren’t based in any one city or country but, rather, lived out of their suitcases - all over the world. And, I met women who lived in our shared hometown of Chicago. Each woman had a unique, inspiring story that got me thinking and made me appreciate travel and the art of sharing it with others even more. And, those were just the attendees.

The cadre of phenomenal speakers were each experts in their own right on their respective topics, covering everything from cultivating your personal travel brand with social media to how to choose travel clothing. Each hour-long session made me hungry to learn more, to do more, and achieve more. And, I have many of the inspirational thinkers who led the sessions I attended - or gave the opening and closing keynote speeches - to thank for that.

Here are the top 5 inspirational quotes from the 2014 WITS that stuck with me this weekend – and I know will stay with me for many years to come:

1: “When you travel the world, you see the commonalities between people. You rarely see the differences. People really want the same things we do – happiness, love, family and security.”
Jeannie Mark, Nomadic Chick

Jeannie Marks sharing her story at WITS14.

Jeannie Marks sharing her story at WITS.

In 2010, Jeannie Mark sold all of her wordily possessions and set out to travel the world – and she’s still doing it. Through her blog, Nomadic Chick, Jeannie shares her stories with other travelers, many of whom dream about following in her travel footsteps. And, all of the WITS attendees were in for a treat as Jeannie told us more during the opening keynote for the summit.

Jeannie's quote touches on one of the most important reasons why I aim to expose my sons to the world – because it shows you that despite where we live, how we dress, what we eat, or what we believe, we’re all human beings in search of the same things.

2: “Be a storyteller – better yet, be a story-doer. You should live your ‘brand’ every day.”
Courtney Scott, Travelocity

Courtney Scott speaking in front of a packed room at WITS.

Courtney Scott speaking in front of a packed room at WITS.

Often, at the root of anything we do is a passion that gets us out of bed in the morning and thrusts us out in front of day, ready to make things happen. As TV host and Travelocity Senior Editor Courtney Scott told us during the panel session titled, “How to be your own everything: The new, new media professional,” you need to live the passion that’s at the essence of your brand each and every day.

For a blogger, it’s not just about creating content. It’s about living and being the story, too. For me, it was a good gut check that I’m on the right path to “raising world citizens” in my everyday life – and right here on my blog.

3: “There is a secret sauce in each of us… You need to bring your secret sauce to whatever you do.”
Brooke Roberts, Yoga Travel Tree

When I saw there was a session called “How to be a rockstar,” I knew I needed to be there. I mean, who doesn’t want to know the secret to being a rockstar? In her high-energy talk, Brooke Roberts, founder of Yoga Travel Tree, told us there is a “secret sauce” in all of us. We just need to find it and "audaciously" apply it to whatever we do.

To me, that’s a message that should be shared with absolutely everyone at every age. And, it’s something I aim to tell my children each and every day. We are all in fact awesome in our own unique way. That’s why it’s so amazing to meet new people, share our “secret sauce” with them, and make an effort to find out their “secret sauce,” too.

4: “To learn is to grow.”
Bayyina Black, The Planet Blaster

The Planet Blaster herself, repeating affirmations during a WITS session.

The Planet Blaster herself, repeating affirmations during a WITS session.

Bayyina Black, who also is known as "The Planet Blaster," led a fantastic session on “Traveling vlogging: How to capture your story and connect with your audience.” Before we dove into the topic, Bayyina share a series of affirmations that we each said out loud. The headline to each affirmation was – "to learn is to grow." And, isn’t that the truth.

Personally, I know I learn something every day that absolutely makes me a smarter person, a better person, and a more caring person. And, that is what helps me grow. Travel can just amplify that even more, helping you expodentially learn more and grow more with every trip, every experience and every interaction. That's why I'm so glad to have the opportunity to take my children with me on my travels - across our hometown of Chicago or around the world.

5: “Sometimes life takes you where you’re afraid to go.”
Evelyn Hannon, Journeywoman

The women in travel pioneer , Evelyn Hannon of Journeywoman.

The women in travel pioneer , Evelyn Hannon of Journeywoman.

If you’re not familiar with Evelyn Hannon, she is the founder of Journeywoman, which is billed as the premier travel resource for women. At 74 years old, Evelyn, who gave the keynote speech at the closing session, was introduced as "the grandmother of travel blogging." But, I also think it’s apropos to call her as a pioneer for women in travel - and online.

During her remarks, which brought tears to many travelers' eyes, Evelyn shared tales of her travel experiences that started roughly 30 years ago - when you could only call home to your family, pay with American Express Travelers Checks, and a roundtrip to Belgium from Canada was $200. It was inspiring to hear the path her life took and the opportunities she seized along the way - as she chartered her own course as a woman, a student, a writer and a business woman (to name a few of her roles).

It was clear that Evelyn never would use fear as an excuse to not do something – and that is an inspiration. For me, it means that you need to embrace the “magical” opportunities that life presents to you – even if it takes you out of your comfort zone. That can mean traveling to new places, meeting new people, enrolling in a new school, or even starting new ventures. You never know if you don’t jump aboard and go for a ride.

These are definitely just some of the fantastic quotes that inspired me in some way during my time at WITS this weekend. Having just said goodbye to my fellow WITS attendees, I’m content to re-read and now share these quotes. And, I aim to also share them with my children as I continue to raise two young world citizens.

Have you recently heard any speakers that have inspired you in any way? What are some of your favorite inspirational quotes? Please share your favorites and personal stories in the comments below.

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