Welcome to Euronews Travel’s Women Beyond Borders, where we bring you women from across the world who are living brave, adventurous lives, and conquering personal challenges on the road.
While some are crossing the world in pursuit of the most unique experiences, or pursuing a lifestyle that many would dream of, others are breaking the mould of traditionally male-dominated industries. We hope the series inspires you to believe in the power of your own dreams.
In 2014, Angela Maxwell set off to walk the world alone.
Six years, four continents, and 12 pairs of shoes later, she returned home - but she’s still adventuring.
Her epic journey of more than 20,000 miles has led her from small town Bend, Oregon, to Australia, Europe, and Asia.
She’s on a mission to inspire more solo female travellers to see the world - and to raise money for NGOs that support young girls and women.
“The most common question that I get asked is why did you start walking?,” she says.
“And surprisingly enough, that is still the most challenging question to answer. It's not that it changes every time. It's just that I find it this interesting thing of how to describe just being called to something.”
Why did Angela Maxwell set off to walk the world?
In 2013, life was “really sweet” for Angela.
She enjoyed her job as a life coach, and was living with her partner and close to her best friend.
But adventure called.
“Part of me that was always wanting to see the world and experience it, it just tugged at those strings,” she said.
“And it was a hard enough tug that I was willing to just let everything go.”
Angela is not an athlete, and didn’t even particularly ‘love’ walking prior to her adventure. But she wasn’t going to let this lack of experience get in the way.
The intrepid would-be adventurer sold her belongings, packed a cart with camping equipment and clothing, and set off.
What budget and equipment did Angela Maxwell use to walk the world?
Her budget of just $5 (€4.71 per day) covered a self-proclaimed ‘terrible diet’: a breakfast bowl of oatmeal and tub of instant noodles.
The first leg of Angela’s journey took her from Bend, Oregon, to Portland. From there, she flew to Perth, Western Australia, and walked up through the desert to Kalumburu.
Travelling on foot through the blistering desert heat, she found her “confidence and strength.”
“Australia was… one of my favourite [places] because that's where I learned I could do this,” she recalls.
“It stripped me down of, you know, the whole construct of who I was. And I learned I love the desert, I love the terracotta and the dirt in my fingernails.”
From Australia, she flew up to Danang in Vietnam, and walked from Ulaanbaatar to Ulaangom in Mongolia.
Denied entry into Russia, she took a train to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and set off for Istanbul. Her subsequent adventures took her through the rolling Italian hills, along the rugged North Scottish coastline and through soaring New Zealand mountains.
Angela returned home in 2020 to help care for her stepfather, who was diagnosed with lung cancer, but continues to plan further adventures.
Solo female travellers can ‘do anything’
From sharing recipes in Italy to learning archery in Mongolia, Angela has had her fair share of bucket list experiences.
But her journey has brought challenges, too - including heat stroke in Australia and dengue fever in Vietnam.
Angela’s worst moment - the moment “every woman fears,” she says - came a year into her travels. While camping on the isolated Mongolian Steppes, she was sexually assaulted.
“That event had me sitting at a particular point right before sunrise and going ‘how am I going to keep walking now that this has happened?’”
Maxwell resolved to continue her walk, finding strength and solidarity in the experiences of other female travellers.
“By tapping into their stories, I remembered I can be just as strong. I can do this,” she said.
“I don't have to give up this thing I'm passionate about doing because this event took place.”
She started raising money for Her Future Coalition, an NGO dedicated to helping survivors of gender violence in Nepal and India. To date, her fundraising efforts have yielded more than $20,000.
“One of the things that I really like to tell other women who want to do adventures, especially alone, is please, please do not let the stories of what happens negatively impact you from not doing something,” she says.
“We don't want to be naive to what's out there in the world, but be strong in yourself and know that you're capable of doing anything.”
Watch the video above to see more of Angela’s adventures.