We Travel For Women+: Lavanya Sunkara, Freelance writer

March 05, 2023
Isabel Espinoza (she/her)
2 min read
Lavanya Sunkara (she/her)

Freelance writer
Live from: New York City, U.S.

I’m a writer covering travel, sustainability, pets, and conservation. I’ve lived in three time zones and visited six continents. It’s been an honor to tell impactful stories for over a decade. My work has appeared in the New York Times, Nat Geo, T + L, Lonely Planet, Shondaland, Fodor’s, USA Today, among others. 

When I’m not at my desk writing away with my dogs and cat snoozing, I’m traveling the world. 

I started writing travel stories for a print magazine in New York City, thanks to two amazing women: my writing mentor and editor. It had been a dream since I was in my early 20s. I used to watch Samantha Brown and Jeff Corwin on TV, developing a desire to visit all corners of the globe to learn about different cultures and see wildlife up close. 

The travel writing world is full of inspiring and supportive women. Most of the editors and public relations/tourism board representatives I’ve worked with in my 10+ years in the industry have been female. Whenever I’m on a press trip, at a conference or event, I appreciate the camaraderie of fellow female travel creators of all ages and backgrounds. 


Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed, been a participant and a beneficiary of women uplifting one another. Our jobs came to a screeching halt when the pandemic hit. In March 2020, I started a virtual group of female writers called “Write Your Way Out,” so we could keep our spirits high and help one another through a difficult time. The group is composed of 30+ diverse members from around the world and it’s still going strong. It’s so fulfilling to cheer for each other during the highs and be there through the lows. 

In 2022, I started a BIPOC Media Professionals Network and published a list of 50+ travel creators belonging to professional organizations. I shared it widely among editors, PR professionals, and tourism boards to level the playing field. For far too long, a select group of writers have been benefiting from press trips, coveted assignments, and other prestigious opportunities, and I was tired of hearing excuses that it was hard to find talented writers of color. The list is well received and I often get messages from writers and colleagues saying how they’ve benefited from it. While it’s a small passion project (we still have a long way to go in achieving equity in the travel industry), it’s a step in the right direction. 

Empowering women doesn’t have to be a grand gesture of donating to a worthy cause or helming a female-led event. While these are great ways of uplifting female voices, sometimes a simple check-in with someone you haven’t heard from in a while with a phone call or a text message can make a big difference. Comments to social media posts don’t count! 

You simply never know what someone is going through beyond the glitz and glamor of Insta or Facebook stories and posts. It’s easy to assume that a person’s life is wonderful based on images from luxury hotels and cruises set in incredible locations, but they could be dealing with a breakup, a serious family matter, or battling anxiety or depression behind the scenes. Be genuine, say you are there for them, and show that you care.