Your bucket-list travel includes the markets of Marrakech and the glaciers of Patagonia, but you don’t have anyone to go with you. For women who aren’t comfortable traveling alone or who struggle to reconcile schedules and budgets with friends, look to travel agencies and resources that specialize in arranging women-only trips.
April Merenda, president of Gutsy Women Travel, tells Exhale that more than 50 percent of women 40 and over are single, widowed, or divorced, and 70 percent of married women travel without their spouse. Gutsy Women Travel, Merenda’s women-only, Boston-based subset of Overseas Adventure Travel, operates worldwide tours for small groups of women. She says that safety and bonding are the No.1 reasons her travelers want an all-female tour. She points to her last trip, when four widowed women forged a friendship by sharing experiences and coping strategies.
“There’s commonality in the issues that face women,” says Merenda. “There’s strength in numbers.”
Of course, there’s a cost associated with booking a group tour rather than planning a trip yourself. But with the cost comes a fully formed itinerary without any time-consuming logistical planning on your part. Gutsy Women Travel, unlike many tour groups, doesn’t charge a single supplement for solo women wanting to join the group.
Meeting like-minded women can be a huge asset when you’re thinking about female group travel. Whether you meet new friends to travel with or just get your burning questions about a specific city answered, it’s nice to be part of a community. Wanderful Boston offers an online group, as well as in-person meet-ups, for women to share travel knowledge. Their site also provides a “Stay with a Local” feature where women can book rooms to stay with verified female hosts in other cities.
Sue Collins, women’s group travel specialist at Cambridge travel agency A Girl’s Gotta Go, tells Exhale that most of her travelers are ages 50–70. “A lot of women in my group are recently divorced. They used to do this with their husbands and they never thought they’d travel again,” she says. “The group is all about making friends, finding people to travel with, and making lifelong connections.”
Collins hosts free travel meet-ups in the Boston area and runs the group trips twice a year. She’s currently organizing a trip to South Africa led by local tour guides for convenience and safety.
No matter how you go about it, Merenda says it’s important to take the plunge. Gutsy Women’s motto is “It’s Your Life…LIVE IT!” and Merenda encourages women to fulfill themselves through travel. “It’s like the oxygen masks on an airplane. You need to help yourself first,” she says. “You need to be whole before you can help your family.”
A Facebook community with 622k members and a New England Chapter, this group helps female travelers share tips and information with each other. Looking for more tailored suggestions? There are subgroups for 35+, Pride, and Women of Color.