Have Friends, Will Travel


Credit: Vince MigI’m sea kayaking in the Sea of Cortez, just off the east coast of Baja—my third group tour in as many months. Question: What does this adventure have in common with my last trip to Peru and the one before that to Croatia? Answer: Women traveling together, without their significant others.

While it’s true that vacationing with the object of our affection remains the most popular way for women to travel, the “leave the guys at home” philosophy appears to be gaining ground. Take Ruth and Jaime, paddling in the kayak just off my left shoulder. They met on a women’s cycling trip several years ago and maintained a friendship despite the distance—Ruth lives in British Columbia, and Jaime in Ohio. An avid traveler, Ruth began passing along her itineraries to Jaime, who began joining in. “It’s a great way to get to hang out,” says Jaime. “We’d never see each other otherwise.”

In Peru, Valerie and Sheila were on their first trip together, having met through a mutual friend in their hometown. “We both realized we loved to travel and somehow decided to go to Peru together,” Valerie says. “I was nervous committing to travel for two weeks and share a room with someone I didn’t know very well, but it worked out great, and we’re planning to take another trip together.”

Sheila likens traveling with a girlfriend to gaining an instant sister and lifelong friend. Added perks include an honest opinion when shopping, someone who will always photograph you at your best angle, and the freedom that comes from not having to “take care of” a high-maintenance boyfriend/husband.

I’ve always traveled either with a guy, or by myself as part of a larger group. So I’ve been thinking . . . why not go someplace with my mom, or my best childhood girlfriend, or some of my Boulder besties? I even started a list of fabulous trips—some are women-only, others are group trips that seem to lend themselves well to traveling without the Y chromosome.

Know of any others? Do tell! I’d love to get your opinion and add it to my Girlfriend Getaways Master File:

Adventures Within Reach: Not only is this company in Boulder, my hometown, but owner Robin Paschall makes a serious effort to offer worldwide adventure travel trips at a fair, affordable price. I love her “end of season” sales and special discounts. adventureswithinreach.com

Experience Plus: Maria Price and her sister recently took this international bike tour company over from their parents who founded it in 1972. Their array of destinations is dizzying—from Argentina to Vietnam. They also have a strong reputation for guide quality and attention-to-detail. I think they’ll host my next vacation… if I can decide which tour to do. experienceplus.com

Natural Habitat Adventures: Nailing the balance between off-the-beaten-path adventure and comfort, they offer the kind of trips that will stretch you on multiple levels—trekking through the Peruvian Amazon, expeditions in Antarctica, polar bear tracking in Manitoba. You’ll appreciate the balance between the raw adventure, and the luxe accommodations and meals–you’ll also appreciate the price. nathab.com

Run Wild Retreats: Trail Runner magazine editor and athlete Elinor Fish offers running retreats in Colorado and Canada, as well as a 10-week-clinic in Carbondale, Colorado. I know Elinor personally, just haven’t been on one of her trips yet… but I got bombarded with email from women raving about her retreats, so I’m happy to add her to my list. runwildretreats.com

Sea Kayak Adventures: Nancy Mertz’s company blends kayaking with activities like yoga, culinary endeavors, and whale watching in Alaska, Baja, The Galapagos, and British Columbia for startlingly low prices. National Geographic rated them one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” last year, and I can personally attest that they employ some of the best guides in the business. seakayakadventures.com

The Trip Chicks: I met The Trip Chicks co-founder Ann Lombardi on the inaugural bike tour of Egypt this spring. She brought her favorite traveling companion – 72-year-old triathlete Alpha Bennett along. These were two cool, classy, laid-back ladies with a real flair for the unexpected. thetripchicks.com

Women’s Quest: If you spend even one minute talking to founder Colleen Cannon about her active travel trips and her company, you’ll be ready to sign up for every offering on her calendar. This woman knows travel, knows outdoor adventure, and puts her entire heart and soul into the planning of her trips. All of her adventures combine a physical activity like cycling or hiking, with self-awareness exercises like yoga, journaling, or meditation. womensquest.com


Jayme Otto is a travel blogger and contributing editor for Women’s Adventure and a freelancer at large. Look for her regular blogs on www.womensadventuremedia.com.

Last modified: January 14, 2018

4 Responses to :
Have Friends, Will Travel

  1. Not only do I get to talk about great “girlfriend getaways” for a living, but I just booked my own for next year! An African safari is perfect for a fun group of ladies… small, intimate safari camps such as the Offbeat collection in Kenya (www.offbeatsafaris.com) or Manyara Ranch Conservancy ((www.manyararanch.com) or The Retreat (www.retreat-africa.com) in Tanzania are the perfect personally hosted safari experiences where guests connect with their hosts, guides and the locals as well.

  2. Jim Trotta says:

    Jayme a typo in the third paragraph “In Peru, Valerie and Sheila were on their on their first trip together.

    I expect the best from you!! Great thoughts by the way. Always enjoy reading your thoughts!

  3. Mariah Cherniss says:

    Hi Jayme,

    I just launched a women-focused travel company called World Beyond Tours with destinations in 2011 to Paris, Northern and Southern Italy, Thailand and Hawaii. In addition to girlfriend getaways, we are also offering a couple “couple’s trips” to Thailand and California Wine Country for women who would like to bring their boyfriend or husband instead of their best friend. 🙂

    Check out the new website and please add us to your list as another great women’s tour company: http://www.worldbeyondtours.com

    (a side note…I went to high school with Maria Elena Price who runs Experience Plus…small world!)

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