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The Road Less Travelled
Finally At 40 Autumn April 2010

Open Original

When Sue Hile reflects back on her life before Adventurous Women, she says she could literally feel life seeping out of her bones every day as she diligently got up and made the journey into the hospital where she worked as a clerk. Something, somehow, had to change, because the drudgery of life was oppressive.

So when her long service leave came up in February 2008. Sue decided to use the two months to go find herself on an overseas trip.

"I approached Brad, and said, 'I love you, but I need this for me."' recalls Sue. "My husband was and has always been so supportive and as hard as it was to let me go, he did so with a lot of grace."

It was in preparing for the trip that Sue decided to seek out the services of a women's only travel group in Perth, hoping she could join them instead of travelling solo. Disappointed that she was unable to find any such group, the seeds for her business, Adventurous Women, were sown.

As Sue was a seasoned traveller from her days before having children, her husband trusted her travel knowledge, although he was keen for her to have a travel buddy. So Sue chose to connect with an American woman for a couple of weeks on her journey. It was during this trip that her business concept crystallised in her mind, as she recognised how it could facilitate her passion for travel, whilst providing this much needed service for other women, giving them the opportunity to travel in a safe and encouraging environment.

After her return, she decided to trek the Himalayas and completed a trek to Mt Everest Base Camp in the Himalayas with her husband in April 2008. Sue found the whole  expedition exhilarating and life changing. Getting to within 500 metres of the base camp before succumbing to altitude sickness, this experience watered the seeds within Sue, which soon flourished into an inspirational business.

"People ask me, 'Weren't you disappointed that you didn't make the base camp?' but I tell them, 'No.' You see, I was just so overjoyed by what I had achieved and how much strength I discovered inside of me that I didn't even know was there. On my trek
I walked past the crosses of so many others who died trying to go where I have and you couldn’t help but think, ' that could have been me' and be grateful that you are alive and have achieved something so life changing." recalls Sue.

In mid 2008, Sue made the hard decision to leave her desk job and go full-time into her business. The core focus of the business was to organise adventures for women - on a local, national and international scale. Sue started forming partnerships with gyms, adventure equipment suppliers, travel agencies and women's groups, in order to obtain the best deals and provide the best experiences for the women that were to accompany her on these adventures. Within a very short time, the fragments of the business were woven into a professional business operation, including a fabulous website, www.adventurouswomen.com.au.

"The hardest part during the start up phase was presenting my idea to other travel and adventure related businesses in order to form working relationships. With it being such a new business concept and business, I found it extremely hard to 'sell the idea' and to find businesses who would take me seriously," relates Sue.

So how does a woman who is used to the security of a 9-5 job handle the transition to full-time entrepreneur? "Obviously there was a transition phase and all the normal questions people ask themselves flooded me. Would I be able to generate enough income to match my previous salary? What if Brad's graphic arts and website design business experienced a downturn? How would we manage? But overriding these questions was the burning passion I had for travel and I wanted to make a difference for other women as well."

Her temerity and tenacity have ensured that Adventurous Women is making its mark in the travel sector and Sue has been nominated for the 2009 Telstra Business Woman of the Year Award program. "I love the way this business challenges me. No two days are ever the same and that's just the way I like it. The only part I really do not like is all the paperwork! Give me working with the disabled children in Nepal over bookkeeping any day! And while we're on it, nothing compares to bathing with the elephants in Chitwan National Park." Confesses Sue , referring to the adventure of a different kind where she led a team to Nepal who worked for a special school for the disabled in September 2009.

" ... Ourtrekking experience was tough, I admit... but when eight of us reached the top of Poon Hill , 3200m above sea level, at sunrise and saw the mighty Annapurna range light up, we were elated. The impressive view and the power of these mountains was certainly worth the tough trek and again we learnt more about ourselves."  reflects Sue in her blog about the adventure.

From riding on the back of camels, to walking with the tigers, abseiling down cliff faces , or flying across the top of a tropical rain forest on a flying fox , Sue says one of the best parts of travelling is that she enjoys the thrill of immersing herself in a new culture. There is so much to see, to smell, to taste and to enjoy; especially meeting the people from whom there is also so much to learn. This was her experience in Nepal when she worked with the Special School for the Disabled and learned how much each of us have to give if we look for an opportunity. Many of the women who went with her had never painted or taught a c lass of students before , but found they achieved these tasks and the experience was so rewarding.

Another example of Sue's exploits was the trip to Egypt in 2009. On this trip Sue had the privilege of travelling with nine wonderful ladies and they have all taken away so many great memories. "Right from the word go, there was a buzz as this was the maiden trip. There were ten of us; some only meeting for the first time, so the meeting itself was a fabulous experience. Snorkelling in the Red Sea was simply amazing. Visiting the Valley of the Kings and walking into some of those tombs was so unreal. Just being on the steps of the Pyramids of Giza was pretty surreal and I got to take so many fabulous photos" recalls Sue. One of the ladies on that trek, Lorelle Embry, has since joined Sue on her team as a Tour Host and Event Coordinator.

"Having been married for more than 20 years to a man whose idea of travel was always "maybe next year", I spoke to Sue about joining her on the Egypt trip , two weeks prior to departure," shares Lorelle.  "I had never travelled overseas before, didn't even have a passport! I loved travelling with a group of like- minded women I had never met, and enjoyed hearing their stories and sharing in their life experiences. I have made lifelong friends, and look forward to further trips and meeting other interesting people. It has been life changing for me, giving me loads of confidence, and a "can do" attitude that I didn’t have in the past," she concludes.

In 2010 Sue plans to send another team to Egypt and Lorelle will lead this team. Also on the agenda are South America, Ningaloo Reef, India and Kilimanjaro. Apart from the overseas trips there will be a lot of local based activities happening including bushwalking, weekend escapes, kayaking etc. The activities are run in all states of Australia and are organised by the Adventure Club State Coordinators and its members. Membership of the Adventure Club is FREE and is accessible through the Adventurous Women website.

"Women that are connecting with Adventurous Women come from all different kinds of backgrounds and age groups. Some are mother-and-daughter teams, other are single, married, widowed and divorced women. The whole purpose of Adventurous Women is to provide a service where a woman feels comfortable about travelling.
For example, trips may include an opportunity to shop and company to enjoy the shopping experience (how many husbands are willing to do this?) or just pl ain old fashioned girl friend time" explains Sue."

If you are single, then you can feel lonely if you have no-one to share these experiences with. Turning 40 was a huge influence in Sue 's decision making. She felt that this was her time to shine and there was a real urgency to get out there and do what she wanted to do. Now at 45 and having accomplished so much, Sue would encourage other women to do the same.

"Live your passion! Sometimes you have to let go of what you know to find who you are," concludes Sue, "but despite the challenging transition , the end result is completely worth the effort. Seriously, who wouldn't want to be me? I get to choose which part of the world I visit next and to recruit a team of women to enjoy the experience with. I am incredibly lucky."