Provider: Gutsy Women Travel
Price: from $2,899 (includes airfare)
Attention to detail and well-rounded, all-inclusive vacation experiences are the fortes of Gutsy Women Travel, a company co-founded by longtime travel industry executive April Merenda in 2001. "Gutsy Women Travel appeals to the multi-tasking nature of women," says Merenda. "[Every trip] includes a touch of culture, gourmet dining, soft adventure, downtime, and more, all rolled into one experience."
The company runs about two dozen itineraries around the world, with a concentration in Europe. Now a part of Gate 1 Travel, a company known for its good-value vacation packages, Gutsy Women has tours that also promise competitive, all-inclusive pricing. Airfare, airport transfers, four-star or better hotels, most meals, daily touring, and tipping and baggage handling are all included, as well as many special activities that often cost extra with other companies.
Gutsy Women's popular eight-day Magnificent Florence and Tuscany trip to Italy is a case in point: Besides all the usual inclusions and sightseeing, the package price also covers indulgences such as a horse-and-carriage ride through Florence, a Tuscan cooking lesson, and a treatment at the Excelsior Spa Centre in Montecatini.
Past clients have also been impressed by the quality of the local guides used on the trip. "The tours of the museums and cathedrals were made very intriguing and interesting by our local guides, who carefully explained the history of what we were seeing and told stories about the artists," says Indiana resident Marsha Parry, who went on the Italy trip last year. "Our experience in a local vineyard in Tuscany—where we were treated royally by the owner who gave us the history of the wine along with tastings—made you understand the romance of Italy."
The tour price covers all the inclusions mentioned above and round-trip airfare from New York to Florence. Taxes are extra. Flights from other cities are available at different prices. Remaining departure dates this year include October 20 and November 17; prices for the October trip are slightly higher. Gutsy Women Travel will pair you with a roommate at your request. You'll be put in touch in advance to ensure your compatibility.