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Trekking as a solo woman – our chat with the inspirational Debbie Mulhall

Debbie Mulhall Episode 2

If you’re looking for a travel inspiration, we have you covered. In the second episode of our brand new podcast, we talk to Debbie Mulhall, an incredible woman who has been on many of our Earth’s Edge expeditions. She’s trekked to Machu Picchu, Everest Base Camp, Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua and Mount Elbrus, among others. If you think that you’re too busy for an expedition, or are nervous about trekking as a solo woman, Debbie’s story will blow any excuse you have out of the water! Here are some of the highlights…

Setting up a business

Like most of us, Debbie didn’t have much of an adventurous childhood. But she made up for it later in life – she went to the States for a wedding when she was 20 and simply didn’t come home! When she came back to Ireland, she set up Urba Beauty as a single mother, while she had a young infant. “The business has grown exponentially since then, but it started when my daughter was in nappies!”

Despite having her own business and a family, Debbie has taken on some of the world’s most exciting expeditions. Her skills as a mother and business owner have helped her on those treks. But how have her expeditions helped her back at home?

What she’s learned

“Those skills I picked up on the mountain have been transferred back into the business, too! It came as a big surprise when I did my first trip, how much I enjoyed the disconnection from social media and the real world. That was a big thing for me to learn – how important it is to stop. I’d never really experienced that before. But I found that taking that time away for myself made me so much stronger. I was better as a mom, better as a daughter, better as a business owner. I learned a lot about people and interacting with them, and how people respond in different ways. And that was invaluable. I learned a lot from those trips.”

How hard is Machu Picchu trek Earth's Edge

Machu Picchu – her first trip

Machu Picchu was the first expedition she went on with Earth’s Edge. “I was working really hard and wanted to get away, but all my friends were married, or looking for a big sun holiday. I was looking for something different. Holy Moly, if I’d only known! That Machu Picchu trip was the catalyst for everything that came after.”

The friends she’s made

“That trip was epic. I’m still in contact with those people – we chat almost every day. We’ve travelled all over the world together. It made me realise it was something I wanted to do more of. It was really, really great. As you go on these trips, you hear about what other people had done. It just made me realise that no matter what else happened, I was going to prioritise myself and going on as many trips as I could. Six months after Machu Picchu, I went to Kilimanjaro.”

Trekking as a solo woman

Though she’s done many trips with Earth’s Edge, when Debbie climbed Elbrus she was the only female on the trip. How was that experience? “It was actually 150% fine. I had been on two expeditions previously with the guide, and I knew how Earth’s Edge trips are ran. There’s never a problem that’s unsolvable. I really enjoyed it, and the guys were really cool. I was nervous that I’d be Paddy Last and left behind, but that never happened!”

“Trekking as a solo woman was one thing I am asked about. I don’t remember feeling super nervous. But I do appreciate a lot of women would feel that way. One thing I will say is not to worry about that aspect. It’s almost always single people. I always found that no matter what comes up, guides can always deal with it. I would advise anyone who’s worried about that to put it out of your mind and just go for it!”

This episode is a really fantastic listen for anyone looking to go on one of our expeditions. For more about her biggest challenges, her most incredible trekking experiences and the biggest expedition heartbreak she’s experienced, listen to the podcast here.

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