Frances Alexander
courtesy of Women Welcome Women World Wide
Frances Alexander of Women Welcome Women World Wide

Her Gig: Founder of 5W — that’s Women Welcome Women World Wide

Back when Frances Alexander was forever hauling her teenaged son and daughter to the airport for sundry European excursions, she got to thinking that there was no reason why the mums should miss out on the insight, energy and connections that international travel inspires.

Soon after the airport epiphany, she started crafting plans to create a network of women around Europe — “I am” she confesses, “devoutly European” — who were willing to offer a bed or share a meal with fellow travelers. She put the concept on paper and in 1984, an excerpt appeared in a Women of Europe bulletin. Word spread like wildfire and before long the group went global, adding ‘World Wide’ to their title. Today there are members in more than 70 countries, teenagers to octogenarians, from the Arctic Circle to the South Pacific. Members pay a modest donation (that they’ll waive if you can’t afford it) to receive a list of like-mindeds around the world offering a hot, a cot, and meaningful connections. The group emphasizes that it’s not about cheap travel; it’s about building cross-border relationships. Some members travel alone; others bring along their spouses, kids or partners. The founder walks her talk. Every five years, she embarks on a major journey. “It is just such a privilege to experience other people’s lives,” she says. “I have stayed with everyone from a millionairess to a woman living in a tiny flat that could fit in the millionairesess’ dining room.” When she’s not on the road, she can be found at the local District Council, where she’s been active in Liberal Democrat politics for more than a quarter century.

Frances Alexander

Welcoming Woman


High Wycombe, UK

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