Nikki Vargas is the editor for Unearth Women, a multi-media travel company for women, run by women. This includes Unearth Magazine which is the first female travel magazine with global distribution in an international market.
Unearth Women was founded in 2018 and at its foundation it is a network of adventure and exploration which also includes, travel journalism featuring the stories of women all over the globe.
The Travel Addict got the chance to catch up with Vargas who talks about her role as editor of a travel magazine, her most memorable travels and how her culture and family influence her spirit for adventure. Check out the Travel Addict’s interview with Nikki Vargas below:
What does the title of the magazine Unearth Women mean to you?
The name Unearth Women is a nod to our mission to both unearth women’s stories that have been largely overlooked, as well as unearth women’s incredible contributions to industries and cities around-the-globe.
What is the most challenging and the most gratifying part of being an editor of a magazine?
By far the most challenging part of both being an editor for a magazine and launching a media start-up is to create a print publication in the digital age. We live in a time where publications are vying for the reader’s attention, struggling to meet their bottom lines, and where instant access to information is valued over long-form print journalism.
Regardless of these challenges, our team perseveres as we truly believe a publication like Unearth Women needs to exist and, what’s more, that a travel magazine that speaks to women is long overdue.
As an editor, my job is to identify stories that not only represent the Unearth Women brand, but that also encourage people to want to go out and buy the issue. I am constantly on the lookout for incredible stories, women to profile, travel trends to address, and destinations to feature in the magazine.
How do you decide on topics for story ideas for the magazine?
Each issue of Unearth Women centers around a unifying theme. Our first issue focused on resilience, our second issue focused on consent, our third issue focused on power, our fourth issue will be dedicated to inclusivity. These themes give each issue a focus and allow us to select stories and women to feature that ultimately tap into that theme.
For example, in our first issue, we featured VICE correspondent Isobel Yeung for her resilience in reporting on women’s stories in places like Afghanistan and Syria. In our second issue, we explored the topic of consent and how countries like Thailand are defining it. In our upcoming issue—the Inclusivity issue—we feature Nomadness Travel Tribe founder, Evita Robinson, and her work to diversify the travel industry and champion travelers of color.
Why is it important for Unearth Women to be called a feminist magazine? What sets
Unearth Women apart from other magazines targeted for women?
Women makeup 70% of the travel consumer base and yet most travel media—particularly in print—is founded by men. We wanted Unearth Women to be the go-to travel magazine for female travelers and minorities who feel largely overlooked and unaddressed by the travel industry. Our next issue, for example, is entirely dedicated to diversity in the travel space and features stories from travelers of color, travelers with disabilities, trans travelers, senior travelers, and more.
Many travel magazines take on this ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to travel content. We see the same travel guides, listicles, destination features all blanketed to travelers. What Unearth Women does is acknowledge that the travelers of today are all unique and have unique needs and travel concerns they want addressed in their content. This is ultimately what sets us apart: our push to address the travel industry as it is today and travelers as they actually are.
What do you think the future of the editorial landscape looks like for women?
It is very inspiring to see women creating print and digital platforms to lift each other’s voices. I think the editorial landscape will continue to evolve and diversify so that women have a stronger voice as do communities of people who have historically been marginalized. We are shifting from people telling other people’s stories to now people telling their own stories, and that is a very powerful thing.
As a Colombian woman, were there any other Latinas you were inspired by growing up (famous or familial)?
My two grandmothers—Clarita and Amparo—have always inspired me. Amparo, who has unfortunately passed on, was the image of grace. She had impeccable manners and class that, from a young age, she always worked to instill in me. My grandmother, Clarita, is a firecracker. Loud, funny, unapologetically herself, and vivacious—Clarita has such a palpable thirst for life that I have always admired.
What is your favorite travel destination in Colombia?
I absolutely adore Cartagena. This colorful seaside gem is what one imagines when they think of Colombia. The colors! The food! The music! Everything about Cartagena is enchanting to me and although my extended family is in Bogota, I always make a point to head to Cartagena when visiting the country.
What was the first trip (first place) you went to that sparked your love of travel?
It was Cartagena! My family moved from Colombia when I was fairly young and had no interest in returning to Colombia. It wasn’t until my twenties, after college, that I gathered some friends and we planned a five-day trip to Cartagena. This was my first time traveling abroad on my own dime, without family. Up until then, travel felt like this unattainable luxury for me. That trip really showed me that not only travel could be affordable—a revelation for an entry-level, post-grad in NYC—but it also set me on this path to becoming a travel writer and editor.
Where would you like to go that you haven’t been to yet?
So many places! Tanzania, Greece, Sri Lanka, Jordan, Egypt, Brazil—the list goes on!
What are your top essentials to pack when you travel?
I always bring compressions socks and Bayer for long haul international flights. No matter what trip, I always bring a journal and a pen with me as I’m bound to either derive inspiration or introspection from my travels. I always bring a book with me and, as of late, I always bring a copy of Unearth Women magazine in case I meet someone who may find it interesting!
What is one piece of travel advice you can offer to other women?
Travel on your own terms. However, you like to travel, you go do that. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty or judged. People have this tendency to project their idealized version of traveling onto others. We cut each other down for being ‘tourists versus travelers,’ for making someone feel like their style of travel is somehow inferior to our own, less authentic, less worldly. In the end, all that actually matters is if you’re traveling mindfully (which is to say you’re not leaving a wake of litter in your path and are being conscious of the destination and culture you’re visiting) and you’re enjoying your trip.
Our thanks to Nikki Vargas for the interview and featured image above.