There are many advantages to same-gender travel: for starters, camaraderie, freedom, and the chance to meet other interesting women from all walks of life, all around the world. For married women, it's a great way to take a trip with a daughter, sister, mom, aunt, grandmother or all of the above and do something the gentlemen are perhaps not quite as excited about. We've found a handful that offer everything from walking tours to shopping tours to hiking tours to spiritual awakenings to spa retreats.
Walking tours for women is the basis of Going Place Tours (tel. 707/935-0595; www.goingplacestours.com), and the company has taken women to Ireland, England, and Crete. Fall trips include Southwestern Utah, October 10-16, with visits to two national parks, Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon, replete with hiking and sightseeing opportunities. It's priced at $2,495 for double occupancy and includes all overnight accommodations, all meals except for one dinner, transportation en route, guide services and maps, parties, permits, entrance fees for parks and hiking gear. Airfare to St. George, where you'll depart from, is not included. Other fall tours include "The Best of New Mexico" (September 23-30), with seven nights lodging from $2,795 for double occupancy. Santa Fe is the starting point, with a guided walk through its historic area, a ranger-led hike through Anasazi ruins, and walk along Falls Trails to the Rio Grande. Other stops include Abiquiu, Taos, and Carson National Forest.
Adventure Women (tel. 800/804-8686; www.adventurewomen.com) has been around since 1982 and takes women over 30, whether traveling solo, with mothers, sisters, or daughters or friends, all around the world. In the fall, they're running a "Baja Sea Kayak Trip" from October 28-November 3, from $2,095. The price for this trip, which is rated easy to moderate, includes airfare from Los Angeles to La Paz, in Baja, Mexico. Take a kayak out to the Sea of Cortez, learn the basics, and hike canyons. A Mexican cooking class is part of the adventure, plus guided kayaking excursions and a Halloween beach party.
Those seeking a spiritual awakening might be interested in "Bhutan Cultural and Humanitarian Adventure: Buddhism 101." The trip runs October 8-22 and is priced at $5,295, which covers land and round-trip airfare from Los Angeles to Bangkok. Three humanitarian projects will connect you to the community, and help provide a way to become completely immersed in a Buddhist culture. Adventure Travel as a company touches nearly every continent and every interest, with trips to Iceland, New Zealand, France and Sweden planned for 2006.
Women's Travel Club, Inc. (tel. 800/480-4448; www.womenstravelclub.com), based in Florida, runs handful of trips, some of which do include men (so read the fine print). Owner Phyllis Stoller has generously offered to waive the annual membership fee ($35) for Frommer's readers who aren't members who want to book a trip with her. Some of the fall tours are already sold out or have very limited space. Stoller advises that the best bets are Greece for Thanksgiving (November 22-28, from $1795 including airfare), the annual Christmas markets trip in Munich (with time in Milan, Italy) just in time for holiday shopping (December 2-8, from $1,995 including airfare), or Christmas in Rome (December 22-28, from $1,095, airfare not included). All trips that include airfare depart from New York-JFK and airline taxes are generally not included in trip price. It's smart to book as soon as possible because they fill up quickly and space is limited; Stoller says it's best to book 90 days before trip departures to take advantage of the cheap, group airfares.
Shop Around Tours (tel. 212/684-3763; www.shoparoundtours.com) is designed for the shopaholic who loves to travel and is the brainchild of Deborah Mayer, who led over 300 group tours as a travel agent before going on her own. Two upcoming trips, Shop Around Tuscany (October 1-8) and Shop Around Italy (December 3-10), are available. Both trips include airfare and depart from New York: The Tuscany trip is $2,195 per person; the Shop Around Italy tour is $1,895 per person. Also included are superior first-class hotels, daily breakfast, some other meals, and transportation and admission to the sights of interest on the itinerary. The Tuscany trip is designed to be a little more laid-back and more slowly paced, with a stay at Montecatini Terme, a natural spa, outlet shopping at Serravalle, with designer stores galore. Other stops include outlets for Prada, Armani, Valentino and others; there's a day trip to Florence, too. The Italy trip stops in Milan, Como, Florence, and Rome.
For a sheer pampering, Trips for Women (tel. 609/707-2531; www.tripsforwomen.com) offers relaxing vacation to places such as Negril Beach Jamaica, November 5-12 and January 28-February 4, 2006, from $789. They're designed as getaways for married, single or divorced women, where the organizers know the bets places to go and where to eat. The prices don't include airfare, but airport transfers, seven nights in a hotel (White Sands, Charela Inn and the exclusively female Rondel Village are options), breakfast every day, a Caribbean cooking class and dinner, a sunset cruise, and two dinners are included. There are side trips for horseback riding, Mayfield Falls, shopping, and Jackie's on the Reef Holistic Spa. If you are traveling with a group of ten or more women, the company can also customize trips to suit your interests.
Gutsy Women Travel (tel. 866/IM-GUTSY; www.gutsywomentravel.com) offers a variety of worldwide tours, such as spa vacations in California, Florida and Arizona, or those based on interests, such as dining, wines and cooking, adventure and nature, and culture. Their Maine and Acadia trip departs October 12 from $1,539 and is a land only rate, based on double occupancy at the Bar Harbor Inn, located right on the water. It's a five-day escorted tour that covers admission to the very large and popular national park, four nights' stay, most meals, a seafood cooking demonstration (Maine is the land of lobster), and walking tours. Their four-day New York trip starts September 15 from $1,469 per person. The New York trip includes three nights at Swisshotel The Drake in Manhattan, a guided city tour by native and company Vice-President, April Merenda, an evening cruise of the harbor, private tour of Lincoln Center, Broadway performances, free admission to a museum of your choice and three breakfasts, two dinners and one lunch -- in short, just about everything except souvenirs and airfare. They're also running a Bring a Friend promotion: Anyone who's traveled with them who brings a friend who's new to Gutsy Women will receive a $100 discount per booking for travel by December 31, 2005.
If you fall in love with same-gender travel, investigate Women Welcome Women Worldwide (www.womenwelcomewomen.org.uk) a great resource that brings women together all over the world. Members of this international organization are listed along with nearly 3,000 others in 70 countries for hospitality exchange. It's a nonprofit organization that costs about $45 US for membership. It's a way for you to see another country through the eyes of those who live there, offer a welcome to visitors to your own country, and tap into a large worldwide community of travelers. There are yearly gatherings in select cities around the world, arranged by members in their hometown, and other members are invited to attend. Past events and gatherings have taken place in Australia, Cuba, France, Sweden, Greece, Japan, Wales, and Russia.
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