We've long trumped the values of gender-specific travel, which often gives women the opportunity to explore new places with friends, family members, or women who start as complete strangers but become friends. More than just a girlfriend getaway or an opportunity to escape, these trips provides cultural immersion often through, hiking, biking and walking and are geared toward the active, the curious, and those seeking a more consciousness-raising, stimulating travel experience.
Adventurous Wench (tel. 866/419-3624; www.adventurouswench.com), which prides itself on ecologically and socially responsible tourism, as well as having a good, adventurous, time, with its trips around the world. If you reserve by March 31, you can save $200 off its June 13-20 hiking trip to Ireland. The itinerary is chockablock, and you'll be a part of guided scenic hikes along the coast, touring the Dingle Peninsula and Ring of Kerry. There are boat trips to Innisfallen, Skellig and the desolate Blasket Islands, and you'll be able to enjoy other elements of the culture -- old ruins and castles, Irish music and the people themselves. The offer is only valid on new bookings and on the land-only price. The cost is $3,495 and takes care of most meals, your entrance fees where noted on itinerary, the services of a tour guide, accommodations at a smattering of places, including a Victorian country house and a 16th century castle, but does not include your airfare -- company reps say that travelers fly to the destination from all over the world. The good news is that there are frequently sale fares to Ireland; just make sure you're looking at Shannon, which is in the west of Ireland, not Dublin.
Gutsy Women Travel (tel. 866/IM-GUTSY; www.gutsywomentravel.com) has a special offer geared to get you to book a friend by March 30 so you can save 25 per cent on a tour. The company's 10-day Magic of Morocco tour, which departs June 13, is priced at $1,499.25 -- the regular price is $1,999 -- for land only; you can add on airfare and the price for that is $2,849. Flights from New York to Casablanca and then from Marrakesh back to New York are included, and the trip is divided up into two nights in Rabat, two in Fez, one in Beni Mellal, and three in Marrakesh. Sixteen meals are included, along with the services of a tour director throughout. Activities while in Morocco take you to tanneries of Fez, a henna ceremony, a traditional Moroccan steam bath and a cooking demonstration.
The other trip that's part of this promotion is an 11-day Charms of China, for its June 22 departure. The promotional price, for land-only, costs $2,039.25 and the round-trip, regular price costs $3,849 and includes flights Los Angeles to Beijing and then Shanghai to Los Angeles. Either way you purchase it, the trip includes three nights in Beijing, one in Xian, three nights on a downstream cruise on the Yangtze River on the Victoria Empress. And of course, a tour director will be on hand to guide you as you visit the Great Wall, the Three Gorges Dam, and meet local women.
If cycling is your speed, then Woman Tours (tel. 800/247-1444; www.womantours.com) might be of interest. The company offers small trips for women of all ages and fitness levels, with trips held in the United States and overseas. You'll stay at inns and smaller properties. This year there are a few new trips -- many of them are extraordinarily long -- but two of them of note are the Idaho Greenways, which runs for six days, July 20-25 and again September 1-6. Priced at $1,590, the trip includes five nights' lodgings, five breakfasts, four dinners and three lunches, along with van support, trained guides and a bicycle workshop. The tour is rated as suitable for beginners to moderate riders, and takes you through the Idaho panhandle on flat terrain free of cars. round-trip airfare to Spokane, Washington, which is the start and end point, is not included.
The Blue Ridge Rambler, which departs August 10 and runs through August 15, is a six-day inn tour that meets in Asheville, North Carolina. This one is geared toward moderate and advanced cyclists, with rolling terrain and some longer climbs. The trip is priced at $1,790, which covers five night of lodging, five breakfasts, four dinners, three lunches, van support, trained guides; bike rental is an additional $160. Make sure your travel arrangements, if you need to fly there, take you to the Asheville airport, where a shuttle from the company will pick you up and bring you back.
The award-winning Women's Travel Club (tel. 800/480-4448; www.womenstravelclub.com) is offering a couple of spring trips that still show availability. The Tulip Time in Holland trip, April 24-29, is priced at $1,299 plus airfare, which the club can help arrange for you or you can book it yourself. If you do, just make sure you arrive on the morning of April 25 because that is the day you check into the four-star Radisson SAS in Amsterdam, where you'll spend four nights. In terms of meals, a welcome and farewell dinner, buffet breakfast daily and one lunch are part of the cost. Of course, there will be a club representative to assist, and the price also covers entrance fees depending on the itinerary. There is a balance of free time to explore things such as the van Gogh Museum, and you have the option to add on nights in Amsterdam if you aren't quite ready to depart after four nights.
If Italy is calling, the Amalfi Coast trip June 20-27 priced at $1,549, includes six nights on the coastline, daily breakfast, along with three breakfasts and lunches. You'll also have the services of a tour escort throughout the trip, a private bus, service charges and taxes, and entrance fees as noted per itinerary. Airfare to Naples and back is not included, but your transfers from and to the airport are. Itinerary highlights include Positano, Sorrento, Caserta, Benevento and the wine region of Campania; you'll also visit Naples and take in views of Mt. Vesuvius. Not a member of the club? You can join for a year for $35 or $65 for two years.
Finally, on a personal note, longtime Women's Travel Club leader, the pioneering Phyllis Stoller, is retiring from her post and passing the reigns on to Alison O'Sullivan to lead the company and scores of fearless females forward.
Talk with fellow Frommer's readers on our Women Travelers Message Boards today.