HOW GUIDED MISSDIRECTION BEGAN
Co-Founders Danielle (left) and Sarah (right)
After graduation (myself from Rollins College and Sarah from Augustana), all Sarah and I knew was that we wanted to travel. Sarah planned on applying to PT school, and I turned down a financial advising job and had no clue what I was doing with my life. After many long talks on the phone, we initially planned on quitting our part-time jobs/internships and moving to New Zealand. We applied for a yearlong work visa, and started job hunting.
Sarah and I had always talked about trying to start up a company after college. We actually started a clothing company when we were in high school together, but it quickly failed when we continually kept all of the items we created. Thus, we tried to brainstorm ways of traveling and still having a (successful) company/career. One night we were talking about the frustrations of traveling as a woman. Many women want to travel but do not want to go alone…and then the idea was sparked. Guided MissDirection had begun. We switched our plans, and we put all our energy in figuring out how to set up women-only group tours. What better a way to pursue our passion for travel than figuring a way to make it easier for other women to travel as well.
My last month at Rollins College, I was the site leader of a field study to Vietnam with two amazing history professors. Consequently, Sarah and I thought Vietnam would make for a great starting place, as I had a good understanding of the history/culture and had made connections there. Sarah and I decided we would commit three months to traveling in Southeast Asia to find the perfect tour for our female-led company. We made it our mission to find the best local female guides in each area we went and hired them on. We even hired on several of my friends, whom I met in my first trip to Vietnam. Since our company has begun, we have been able to meet the most amazing women in the countries we have visited. I will never forget the first time I hiked with a Hmong woman in Sapa, and she told me about her roles and the customs of her people. Her world was so vastly different than mine, and yet we still had so much in common. There is power and enlightenment in cross-cultural friendships, and that is something that Guided MissDirection really tries to promote.
Currently, our 11-day Vietnam immersion includes visiting war museums in Saigon, shopping in night markets, walking the sand dunes of Mui Ne at sunset, a 5-star cruise on Halong Bay, hiking with Hmong women in Sapa, and a karaoke night out with all of our Vietnamese friends, and more! We just finished an amazing second tour, and we are so excited to see what Guided MissDirection’s future holds. We are currently working on adding a day of service to our 11-day tours, and continually trying to find ways to make our trips more immersive, interesting, and adventurous. Our hope is that Guided MissDirection will give women, both our clients and those on our team, amazing adventures, new friends, and a new perspective.