"We were sitting around the table, planning our paddling route for the next 8 days in the Bunsby Islands, one of Canada's remote wilderness areas off Vancouver Island, when we were approached by a gentleman, who, glancing at our charts and gear, engaged us in a conversation about our week's plans. One of his first questions was, 'So, who's your guide?' We looked at each other and laughed - four women 'guiding' themselves seemed perfectly normal to us."
"Twelve years ago, this scenario was typical," says Sandra Braun, reflecting on one of Adventure Associates' All Women Trips. Nowadays, perhaps it is more acceptable to travel as a woman, either independently or as part of a group. We have been offering female-led vacations for women, solo women travel, "girlfriend getaways" and retreats for 20 years, and now they are being sought after more than ever.
We often find ourselves in the mold of nurturing a family and maintaining a career, but as our lives shift, we may allow ourselves to embrace transitions and expand beyond our routine. Many women choose travel to break the mold, as it gives us a chance to shed typical expectations, try new activities, and participate as a member of a sisterhood. Oftentimes, women are most comfortable traveling and trying new things with a group of friends. Another way to escape completely and comfortably is to join a group of women as a single woman traveler. The rewards for both approaches are limitless.
Trudy, an experienced independent traveler, enjoys joining groups of women for her own reasons: "Dealing with details is my forte. I orchestrate an annual weekend getaway for all twelve of my female family members (ages 13-83), so I understand the time commitment for planning and coordinating details. It's a luxury when I hook up with a women's travel group and let someone else handle the logistics. I'm definitely less stressed. Also, I greatly miss the companionship of my daughters, it is no longer cool for them to hang out with Mom. As they embark on their life journeys, my new found freedom has been enriched by traveling in groups of women." Trudy touts that a foremost reason for booking an all-women travel vacation is "the care and feeding of one's self."
Paula and her sister Midge, had often traveled together, but always with an entourage of sons, husbands, mother-in-laws, nephews and friends, leaving the two sisters little time to simply be together. Paula searched online for their shared passion cross-country skiing, refining her search to "women's cross-country ski adventures" and found the perfect holiday gift for her sister: an Adventure Associates gift certificate. The result? Not only did they reconnect as sisters, they reconnected with the joy of female camaraderie - all within the shimmering backdrop of Yellowstone National Park in winter.
In order to celebrate life's transitions and to take time to "get away" with her girlfriends, Sheryl spearheads a group who call themselves the "Same Time Next Year" women. With our skillfully crafted custom tours, they have cross-country skied through Yellowstone National Park and the Methow Valley of Washington, twice in British Columbia's Banff region, and they climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to celebrate all of their 50th birthdays. Sheryl's group is a wonderful example of Marybeth Bond's statement about what women want from their travel experiences. They escape from a fast-paced professional world and give themselves a reprieve from the pressures of work and family.
In February 2007, Susan joined a group of Seattle Police Officers, their partners and friends, on an all-women climb up
Mt. Kilimanjaro, followed by a Cultural and Wildlife Safari in Tanzania, East Africa. When reflecting on standing atop the Roof of Africa at 19,400 feet, she laughs when she remembers "not feeling well, but completely awe-inspired."
"I have read all the Everest books out there, and I'm an avid hiker and outdoorswoman. I've never had the interest in technical climbing, but the challenge of altitude did interest me - and it was the biggest challenge. The group dynamic was also challenging, as well as going on the trip with an open mind. When we're under this strenuous physical exertion, emotions are raw and everything comes out. Because of this I made tremendous friendships - ones that I know I will have for a very long time. For me, all of the challenges added to the depth of the experience."
Challenge, empowerment, freedom, joy and strength are words that we hear repeatedly when receiving feedback on Adventure Associates' escapes for women. An adventure travel company like ours can only provide the opportunity for change, it is up to the woman traveler to grasp the opportunity to empower herself, free herself, and carry on the joy of those moments into the rest of her life. Midge reflects back on her experience in Yellowstone: "A wonderful and complete escape from my everyday world that afforded me a great mix of B&B, physical activity, mental stimulation and incredible beauty - a grand experience!"
Ruth is signing up for her first all-women's trip with Adventure Associates: "I can't begin to describe the feeling of freedom this trip has come to represent to me. I've felt a desire, since entering my 50's, to take a trip with a group of women; to finally act upon that desire is both satisfying and empowering. I'm hopeful it is the first in many trips of its kind - children's college tuition bills notwithstanding!"
When we travel as single women, gutsy women, wild women, thoughtful women, relaxed women or strong women, we recognize the opportunities for empowerment, and we embrace them with open arms. We nurture our bodies through active adventures and we nurture our minds by reconnecting with nature, ourselves and each other. And like the "Same Time Next Year" women, we escape from our work and family lives, we enjoy shopping and relaxing, and when in good company, we'll solve all the world's problems in one hot tub soak!
Perhaps nothing has really changed in terms of what women want from their travel experiences: the freedom of choice, personal growth, an escape from traditional roles and daily tasks, sisterly bonding in a nurturing environment, the chance to share stories, experience new foods and new perspectives, and the opportunity to rediscover independence. Perhaps it is the world around us that has changed, as more of our travel dreams become realities, travel for women becomes more acceptable and the opportunities for group or solo travel become more available.
We hope you will consider joining a women's vacation, or sending your loved one on an adventure with us. We encourage all women to join us, whether you are a single traveler who is starting or continuing to break her mold, an experienced independent traveler who yearns for camaraderie, a woman with no time to plan a getaway, or a group of friends wishing to design a trip. Adventure Associates has specialized in active travel for women since 1987.
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