Five months ago, I made the best and boldest decision of my life. I quit my job, packed up my things, and headed overseas to travel. At this point in time I don’t really have a home; I have been bouncing from city to city across Europe. I am based in Kraków, Poland, where I am studying the language and volunteer at a youth hostel in exchange for food and board. My experiences have inspired me to start the project I have been working on for the past few months, which is building a women’s sexual health website for travelers called Vag-Abond. The concept for Vag-Abond is basically a community and support system for females abroad. What happens if you are backpacking across Europe and you contract an STI? If you require the morning after pill or an abortion? If you experience sexual assault?
So many women travel alone and seeking sexual health services can prove challenging in a foreign country, especially if there is a language barrier or the country has a conservative view on women’s health services. I wanted to create a playful yet personal platform for women to share their experiences online in a safe space free from judgement. I am collecting stories from women worldwide – the good, the bad, and the ugly – that may inspire others to travel solo despite what obstacles may occur and to try to break down stigmas surrounding sex, which is a key issue for me. So often, women are made to feel shamed by society for participating in casual sex while men are free to do as they please without conviction. At Vag-Abond, I am trying to promote an atmosphere where women can feel safe and comfortable exploring the world, meeting new people, and if they want to have a different sexual partner in each country – so be it! If they are happy to share their story, we would love to hear it and should there be any unplanned issues that arise later, Vag-abond will be there to hopefully assist and provide a support system of women who have also been in these situations.
The project came to me from just trying to sort out my own sexual health abroad. I am living in Poland, where English is not the primary language spoken, and women face a lot of restrictions trying to access birth control. I wanted to make life easier for women who were having similar struggles, so I put out a call to all my nomadic friends to ask their experiences and thoughts on the project. The response I received back was so overwhelming that all of a sudden my life had a new purpose. With the help of my friend and co-creator, Lucy, we started to bring Vag-Abond to life.
Now, I do not come from a background in sexual health, I am simply a woman who has and enjoys a lot of sex. I actually come from a creative background - I completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion and Textiles in Melbourne, Australia and was working in the fashion industry before I moved to Europe. My role consisted of buying and product development and since I worked with some truly amazing people who gave me a lot of creative input, I was exposed to so many different areas of the industry. I always had a passion for writing and was lucky enough to be given many opportunities in my role to create copy for online products, social media and even for some magazines. Creating has always been important to me as I simply am not good at anything else and I do not flourish if I am not working on something that I am passionate about. I feel the most emotionally stable when I have something going on in my life that I can pour my heart and soul into which is why the site is so important to me.
My creative process is a bit of a mess as I work best in chaos. I am constantly recording ideas in the notes section of my phone because once I am inspired by something I can’t really turn my brain off. While I am building the website I still have so much going on in the background – writing interviews with women, talking to expats and locals, managing social media accounts, etc. I am hoping to have the Vag-Abond website up and running by the end of the month and once it goes live, I will be constantly adding new information as it continues to grow. At the moment, I am just focusing on sharing the experiences of female travelers online but I would love to expand Vag-Abond to include video interviews, news feature articles and even create an iPhone app. This project is my baby and I am hoping it is something that once completed, can assist in empowering and supporting women everywhere.