Every industry seems to be changing post-#MeToo—travel included—by taking a look at its relationship with women. Hollywood is reckoning with harassment and a massive wage gap, restaurants are acknowledging rampant sexual misconduct, and airlines are addressing in-flight sexual assault for the first time ever.
As industries find opportunities to make the world a better place for women, they might want to look at travel companies that cater to those who identify as female. Women now dominate the travelsphere, the George Washington School of Business recently found: Nearly two-thirds of all travelers are female. Maybe that’s why some tour companies have long offered women’s travel options—and more are joining in.
Inspiring Women’s Travel Escapes
Here are just a few examples of women’s tours to try if you’re seeking a new and inspiring way to visit your bucket-list destinations. Your entire travel group could be women, down to the tour guide.
Women High on Adventure, or WHOA Travel, has taken women-only groups on an exhilarating array of trips since its birth several years ago—from conquering Mount Kilimanjaro alongside local women to paragliding and hoisting beer steins at many an Oktoberfest in Bavaria. WHOA’s women’s travel itineraries are designed to support local female-run businesses and nonprofit women’s organizations.
For a unique India experience that flies in the face of the country’s complicated gender issues, WHOA takes all-women groups on a colorful journey of cooking, Bollywood dancing, and yoga across Rajasthan that includes a stop at a cafe run by survivors of acid attacks. The visit benefits an effort to stop such attacks not only in India but also across the globe. WHOA cofounder Allison Fleece tells me the experience is true to the company’s ethos of “women coming together to support other women.”
WHOA also offers trips to Everest Base Camp, Machu Picchu, and Iceland—but many departures book up within weeks of becoming available. Group sizes depend on the destination. Keep an eye out for the company’s new 2019 options, which Fleece says will be announced soon.
A female-run women’s tour option that’s been operating for more than 35 years now, AdventureWomen offers one- to three-week trips for women over 30 years old. Its 22 destinations for 2019 include Vietnam, the Galapagos, Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railroad, and Morocco. Like WHOA Travel, AdventureWomen’s tours also include rare opportunities to connect with incredible local women—from female beer “sommeliers” in Canada to women Ama free-divers in Japan famous for collecting pearl oysters.
New from the company are its mother-daughter adventures, which will head to Mexico for glamping and surfing next February, and to Iceland for horseback riding and national park waterfalls next June. Other new 2019 itineraries include cycling through Puglia, Italy, and a 10-day trek through Patagonia.
REI Women’s Adventures
An outdoor retailer turned travel company, REI is ramping up its all-female REI Women’s Adventures offerings after its 19 female-led women’s tours outpaced expectations last year. REI has revealed exclusively to SmarterTravel five of its new Women’s Adventures for 2019 (which won’t become available online until later this year). Stateside options include a Sedona women’s adventure, women’s backpacking in Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and on the Olympic Coast, and women’s kayaking in the Carolinas.
REI Women’s Adventures travel outside the United States as well, including to Peru, South Africa, Greece, and New Zealand. All trips employ local women as travel guides—which, across the globe, is a male-dominated profession.
A smaller operator that lets you choose an age group of ladies you’d like to travel with, Femscape Sojourns offers women’s travel options for a few different audiences: women over 40, women in their 20s and 30s, and mother-daughter pairs. Current offerings include seven- to eight-day itineraries to Mallorca, Buenos Aires, and Marrakech, with another upcoming itinerary slated for Barcelona summer 2019.
Intrepid Travel Women’s Expeditions
Visiting Middle Eastern countries as a solo female traveler can be daunting, so why not experience the gems of Jordan, Morocco, and Iran on an all-women tour? Intrepid Travel launched a line of women’s travel expeditions to all three countries this past International Women’s Day that focus on local women in each destination.
In line with Intrepid’s effort to double its number of female guides across the globe by 2020, each one is led by a local woman. Arab cooking classes, hammam spa relaxation, souks, yoga classes, and desert treks await—and for a more affordable price point than you might expect: Morocco departures start from $890 per person.
Wild Women Expeditions
Offering more countries and departures than any other women’s travel company in the world, Wild Women Expeditions operates in 26 countries and focuses on active itineraries. Camping in Bhutan, cruising the Nile River in Egypt, and biking, trekking, and rafting through Chiang Mai, Thailand are just a few of Wild Women’s options. The multi-sport adventures can also include visits to female-focused organizations like a women’s cooperative craft market in Belize and the Vietnam Women’s Museum in Hanoi, Vietnam. Wild Women trips typically accommodate eight to 12 travelers per group.
Black Butterfly Journeys
Looking for a group of like-minded black female travelers? Black Butterfly Journeys offers meditation and wellness retreats once per year. This October Black Butterfly Journeys’ departure to Haiti will focus on Haitian cuisine, historic sites like Citadelle Laferrière, colorful art in Port-au-Prince, and, of course, the beach.
Another travel company that launched a line of female-only women’s tour departures this International Women’s Day, Exodus Travels is now offering cultural, wildlife, walking and trekking, and cycling itineraries for all-female groups. Discover Myanmar’s temples and villages over 14 days, bicycle through Nicaragua to Costa Rica and Panama on a two-week itinerary, or head to Cape Town for a ladies-only safari over 20 days.
More from SmarterTravel:
- How Your Hotel Soap Can Make You a Better Traveler
- What to Do If In-Flight Sexual Assault Happens to You
- Video: Women’s Travel Fest 2018