An estimated 32 million single American women traveled at least once last year, and about 3 in 10 traveled 5 times or more in that year. In most households, women are the primary trip planners and almost 40% of women over the age of 35 don’t have a built-in travel partner. In fact, out of the 34.8 million U.S. adults who have traveled solo in the past three years, 47% are female. A 2006 survey released by the Adventure Travel Trade Association reports that women comprise 52% of adventure travelers.
So what does all of this mean? Women travelers are rapidly altering the travel industry’s old preconceptions of the “typical” traveler, in both business and leisure, so the choices in destinations and experiences for women are growing exponentially:
And now, heavily tasked parents — especially mothers looking for great getaways, are now in luck. The travel industry is slowly but surely coming to the rescue, with a growing number of specially themed, focused retreats and focused vacations for women only. Here are a few worth noting:
Rancho La Puerta
Located in the town of Tecate, five minutes across the U.S.-Mexico border (you can fly into the San Diego airport, which is about an hour away — transportation to and from is included). Originally created in 1940, the spa has grown into a 3,000-acre destination with a six-acre organic farm. A one-week stay at the spa (there is no shorter stay available) starts at $2,690 during the regular season, and $2,780 during the high season (early March to mid-May). But, if you’re there, you should opt for the additional $75 for a hands-on cooking class—you actually gather up produce from the garden and prepare a multi-course vegetarian meal with the chef. Spa treatments are also extra, but “special event” classes, such as Iyengar yoga, music concerts, and sex and health education classes are included. 800-443-7565, www.rancholapuerta.com.
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Northwest Women's Surf Camp
Why lounge about in the sun when you can go surfing? Northwest Women’s Surf Camp offers a “Girlfriend Getaway Weekenders” package where, over the course of two days, you'll learn to hang ten with your best friends in tow. The package includes an organic lunch each day, “beach yoga” sessions, and all your surfing equipment. Prices range from $199 to $295 per person, depending on the size of the group (minimum four people), plus $65 for private double accommodations ($27.50 for a dorm-style room). 503-738-0758, www.nwwomenssurfcamps.com.
River's Edge Kayak & Canoe Trips
Nestled in Sonoma wine country you'll find the city of Healdsburg, home to River's Edge Kayak & Canoe Trips. A Wine Tour Package starts $140 for a full-day rental, including a gourmet picnic lunch for two, wine glasses and opener (you BYOB) and all the fixings. You can paddle along a 10-mile stretch past vineyard and forests, and stop for a picnic along the way. The upscale town of Healdsburg is a great rendezvous point with plenty of B&Bs, chic shopping and eateries to wind down your day paddling on the river or visiting the nearby vineyards. 800-345-0869, www.riversedgekayakandcanoe.com.
The Oaks Spa at Ojai
Located about 90 minutes north of L.A., Ojai is a thriving little art community, cafes, galleries and shops. In the city center is The Oaks, but once you step inside, you’ll feel like you’re a million miles from civilization. You can spend an all-inclusive weekend, which includes a healthy spa cuisine menu that limits, spa services, and up to 16 classes and activities a day—including belly dancing! Programs included a smoking cessation week, a yoga weekend, and a mother-daughter discount of 50 percent off for a guest sharing your room. 800-753-6257, http://www.oaksspa.com.
Greyfield Inn, Cumberland Island Georgia
This place is so off the beaten path that you have to take a 40-foot lobster boat to get there! The boat, which fits about 18 people, departs from Fernandina Beach, Florida and takes about 45 minutes to get to the island. Cumberland Island is a national seashore that is Georgia’s largest island where there’s beach, marches, wild horses running around. Greyfield Inn is a 19th century mansion, with 10 rooms and two cottages to accommodate 32 people total. No phones or TVs in the room, no Internet. There is extremely limited communication to the mainland; your hosts request that you make any necessary phone calls before you get to the island. There is one radio phone on site for emergencies (no charge). Room rates: $350-$575. 866-401-8581, www.greyfieldinn.com.
Zen Mountain Monastery, Mt. Tremper, New York,
For a real Zen experience with your girlfriends, check out the Zen Mountain Monastery, 250 forested acres in the Catskills of New York. A monthly weekend introduction to Zen training retreat invites guests to learn the “Eight Gates of Zen.” Start on Friday and enter the strict monastic schedule, which includes walking meditation, chanting and bowing, working together in silence, and participating in the workshop sessions. The retreat concludes on Sunday with a formal talk by one of the Zen teachers or senior students. Guests stay in dormitory-style bunk beds (up to 10 people per room), and food is healthy with a vegetarian option. Cell phones are NOT allowed at the monastery—there’s no reception in this mountain location anyway. There is a pay phone available. And it probably goes without saying … no TVs or internet are on site either. Weekend rate $225. 845-688-2228, www.mro.org
Sierra Wilderness’ women-only hiking and climbing expeditions are geared toward women looking for an adventure. Try mountaineering, rock climbing or ice climbing in Mt. Shasta, Mt. Whitney and Yosemite, or head a little further and go trekking in the mountains of Peru. You’ll need to be in moderately good shape to tackle these trips, but experienced guides will be able to provide how-to instructions on using a crampon, ice aces and basic mountain safety before you climb. 877-797-6867, www.swsmtns.com/womens_adventures/index.html
Women’s Travel Club
Only women are allowed on these adventures. This Florida-based club brings together like-minded travelers and includes activities that women may not be able to indulge in when they’re traveling with significant others or children—we’re talking shopping, antiquing, trips to the theater, and fine dining. Women’s Travel Club offers several trips a year throughout the world, including a week in Costa Rica, a visit to the Christmas markets in Germany, and a week in Egypt. Prices start at about $1,150. 800-480-4448, www.womenstravelclub.com
Peter Greenberg is TODAY’s travel editor. His column appears weekly on TODAYshow.com. Visit his Web site at PeterGreenberg.com.
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