Fly like a girl

Iða Jónsdóttir 90 year old explorer doing tandem paragliding.
Iða Jónsdóttir 90 year old explorer doing tandem paragliding.

First of all, let’s make it clear that this is not intended as a psychology paper or in any way an attempt to change how we view men and women. It’s a very personal observation, something I wanted to share as it has been slowly taking shape at the back of my mind.

Now, there’s no reason for anyone, man or woman, to be offended by what is said here. This is not ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ feminist, it’s not intended to offend anyone, so take it with a (large) pinch of salt and just let some of the stereotypes that surround you take a walk in a different direction. Some might think that we are well beyond the ‘women are weak / men are strong” cliches, but one quick look at popular Google searches might prove this wrong, funny as it might be, it also shows that there are still a lot of stereotype-ghosts to be shoved out of the closet:


 Men and women in Google searches

When my co-founder Sammi and I first started True Adventure, naturally we got to the point when we talked about who we expected our customers to be. Both agreed almost immediately that the majority would be guys in their 20’s and 30’s. It was a given.

2+ years later and the picture is very different. Girls, from age 9 to 90 are our most likely passengers. Yes, we also get guys, sometimes coming on their own free will, more often cajoled / dragged or pushed by their girlfriends, wives or female friends.

“The average adventure traveler is not a 28-year old male, but a 47-year old female. And she wears a size 12 dress.”


Icelandic grandmother and knitting enthusiast Kristín Guðbjartsdóttir flyiing with her son GisliMany reasons for that - women are traveling more, have more spending power and are making the majority (according to Forbes 80%) of the decisions when it comes to travel. But let’s leave the statistics aside because that’s not what has fuelled my curiosity. It’s what happens with those girls and guys when they’re about to take their first free flight that’s fascinated me for a while now.

Girls, traditionally thought of as less of risk takers, perhaps ‘weaker’ and more likely to back away from an ‘extreme’ activity, are in fact nothing but. Yes, they’ll scream when afraid and would absolutely make sure they let you know how they feel, but more often than anything they’ll take off to the skies without a shadow of a doubt, wanting to experience it all and more. Why?

Perhaps a lot of what we know and believe about being brave, adventurous and having courage is just a myth that is about time we shake off. Is it that men, even now, are still brought up to believe that they are the stronger, braver and more resilient of the sexes, so they have to act as expected? Don’t show your feelings, always act as if you are in control? Perhaps it’s the fact that when you are up in the air in a tandem harness, you DO have to trust someone else with your safety?

I don’t really know the answer and perhaps there isn’t one. Maybe gender is irrelevant here. And it is a wonderful experience to observe how all these girls and women, time and again, prove that.

True Adventure pilot doing a tandem paragliding flight in South IcelandIt’s OK to be afraid, it’s OK to show others that you fear something. It’s also OK to show everyone that you are so excited, moved and taken by something. To face your fears, overcome them and have a great time doing so.

Guys, let’s take note, none of us has anything to prove, just have fun even when it’s terrifying at first, or seems like it might be terrifying. It’ll make facing and overcoming your fears all the more enjoyable.

And without any offence to anyone, I can honestly say to all people out there: “Fly like a girl!”