After graduating college with a degree in art history in 2008, Beth Santos was invited to volunteer on Sao Tome and Principe, an island country off the coast of Gabon in sub-Saharan Africa. As she prepared for her stay on the isolated islands with a tiny population of just under 200,000, she tried to Google tips for women traveling to off the beaten path destinations. The search results, at the time, weren’t exactly helpful.
“You look up women in travel, and the types of things you would find are: what’s the best long lasting makeup for my trip to Rome? What bikini should I wear on my beach vacation in Cancun?” she said. “And I was like, what about if you get your period in a place where there’s no plumbing? Or, is it ok for me to go out at two in the morning to get a drink by myself? Or should I be wearing hijab in a different country to pay respect?”
Really what it came down to for Santos was: “What does it feel to be a woman in a place where the experience of local women is different?”