The travel industry has discovered a new market: Women who want to have adventures with other women — without men. The Travel Leaders Group’ latest Travel Trends Survey of agents found that women-only journeys and active and adventure travel were among the top specialty-travel trends across all ages.
Tour operators, no surprise, are catering to them, offering — along with women-only wellness retreats and cultural tours — lots of sportier experiences focused on activities like kayaking, biking or hiking. Road Scholar's senior VP for programs, JoAnn Bell, says, “We find that, especially with active outdoor programs, some women feel like if there were men on the trip there’d be more pressure to pick up the pace: ‘Will I be able to keep up with my male counterpart?’ Unless you're a great athlete, you always feel some insecurity about slowing down the group, but we find that the women are very supportive and tolerant of all levels.”
Road Scholar (catering to travelers 50 and older) has 43 women-only trips this year, up from 14 in 2011. They include a wellness - and walking-focused trip in Costa Rica; a “learning, writing and walking” journey along the Oregon coast with nature walks, yoga and help with fiction or memoir writing; and a challenging six-day hiking trip in Rocky Mountain National Park, with accommodations at a modest inn near the trails.
"People love them,” says Suzanne Rommelfinger, a senior manager of Road Scholar's North American programs, of the women-only trips. “I do think the bonds are different when there aren't couples in the group. It's just really special, really magical."
Jane Detloff, 75, a retired teacher in Minneapolis, has been on 14 women-only group bike trips around the world, most recently in Chile, through VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations. “It’s noncompetitive — we encourage and help each other,” she says, “and I think that really appeals to women.”
Adventure Women, a Massachusetts-based travel company, is offering 46 trips for women — most of whom are between 50 and 65 — this year. Co-owner Erica Landerson says that in 2020 they're planning to add 25 more trips, “purely based on demand.” Landerson says many women come solo, but they're seeing more mothers wanting to travel with their adult daughters: “It creates a wonderful bond between them."
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