Travel for Women: Our Top 5 Girls-Only Tour Operators 2020

For women who want to enjoy new experiences, travel safely, and maybe make a friend or two, check out our 5 top picks for groups specializing in travel for women.Read More

Traveling is for women (Source: iStock / monkeybusinessimages)

Travelling can be one of life’s greatest pleasures. Exploring the terrain and culture of a remote destination adds richness to life experience. What’s not to love, right?  But travel can also be challenging, especially for women traveling solo. For many women who don’t have a ready travel-companion, travel becomes, regrettably, something they just don’t do. Luckily, there are companies that offer group travel for women exclusively. So for the woman who wants to enjoy new experiences, travel safely, and maybe make a friend or two, here are our top five picks for groups specializing in travel for women. Read on, sister!

1: Women’s Travel Club

Women's Travel Club (Source: Women's Travel Club)
Women’s Travel Club (Source: Women’s Travel Club)

Nearly 10 years ago, Canadian travel agency owner Marianne Southall recognized a growing trend among her clients: Women who wanted to travel, but didn’t have a travel companions, were staying home. In response, Marianne matched ladies together and the idea for the Women’s Travel Club (“WTC”) was born. Marianne’s colleague Debbie Groulx, also a travel professional, joined the team shortly thereafter. WTC offers tours in Africa, Europe, North and South America, and Asia. Things to know:

Membership: Registration of your name, email, and phone number is required to book a trip. Contact information is provided to all travelers on a specific trip so that you can meet ahead of time.

Typical number of travelers per tour: 8-16 maximum. Most travel solo.

Ages of travelers: It ranges, though most are 45-65.

Example trips: Classic tours, like four days in New Orleans ($2,200) or a 12-day visit to Argentina and Chile (with optional extension to Easter Island) ($4,070); to grand journeys, like an 18-day sojourn to Sri Lanka and the Maldives – including a seven-day cruise on the Indian ocean ($4,250). All prices assume double occupancy with another tour member. Single rooms are often available for a step-up fee.

What’s included: All accommodations (roommates typically arranged by WTC), a tour director, sightseeing, local guides, internal traveling, necessary visas, and most meals once the trip commences.

What’s not included: Travel to and from the departure location, travel insurance, early check-in or late departure from accommodations, gratuities, optional activities, and alcohol.

Unique features: WTC offers a wide range of trip-types from local cities to far-flung locations and even adventure-themed getaways. If you don’t want to book your travel to and from your start destination, WTC will do it for you for a fee. Often, trips will include at least one activity geared toward women, such as a guest speaker or shopping at a woman-owned cooperative.

2: Women Traveling Together

Women Traveling Together (Source: Women Traveling Together Facebook)
Women Traveling Together (Source: Women Traveling Together Facebook)

Back in the mid-1990s, nearly 40-year old Debra Asbury couldn’t find anyone to accompany her on her dream vacation of rafting down the Colorado River. A chance conversation with a woman who had a similar problem prompted Asbury to launch Women Traveling together (“WTT”) in 1997. With WWT, Asbury’s goal is to support women who want to fulfill their travel fantasies. Trip destinations are in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Arctic. Things to know:

Membership: A $45 annual membership is required to book a trip. Membership includes access to all WTT members – a network of women who like to travel, one of who might be your next travel buddy.

Typical number of travelers per tour: Maximum 15. About 80% of trippers are traveling solo.

Ages of travelers: Most are 50+, but all adult ages are welcome.

Example trips: Travel for women includes a seven-day Louisiana culinary influences tour, including cooking classes ($2,113); or the 15-day Trans-Siberian Railway journey with stops in China, Mongolia, and Russia ($9,848). All prices assume double occupancy with another tour member. Single rooms are often available for a step-up fee.

What’s included: All accommodations, a tour director, sightseeing, local guides, internal traveling, necessary visas, and most meals once the trip commences.

What’s not included: Travel to and from the departure location, travel insurance, early check-in or late departure from accommodations, optional activities, and alcohol.

Unique features: WWT encourages a collegial atmosphere by providing opportunities ahead of each trip for travelers to get to know one another. In addition, tour directors will arrange dining options during trips so that no tripper eats alone.

WWT also owns a handful of Mercedes mini-coaches for comfy and convenient travel during their North American tours. Also, gratuities for local guides are typically included in your trip cost.

3: Sights and Soul Travels

Sights and Soul Travels (Source: Sights and Soul Travels Facebook)
Sights and Soul Travels (Source: Sights and Soul Travels Facebook)

Sights and Soul Travels (“SST”) is a boutique tour operator led a by a team of six women based in Maryland. SST specializes in luxury tours and vacations for women, with an emphasis on high style, cultural exploration, fine dining, and beautiful hotels. Tours cover Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and the Pacific, Central and South America, and the Middle East. Things to know:

Membership: There is no membership per se. Travelers register for each trip on a one-off basis. If you agree, your contact information is provided to the group ahead of time.

Typical number of travelers per tour: 16 maximum.

Ages of travelers: Average age is 55+, though they allow women as young as 16 to travel with an adult.

Example trips: Some of SST’s more exotic travel for women includes 13 days in Morocco, including a night in a luxury Berber camp in the Sahara Dessert and private cooking classes in Fez ($4,990); or nine days in the Galapagos with a focus on the biodiversity and unusual wildlife of the area. This trip also includes four days on a small luxury cruise ship ($4,990). All prices assume double occupancy with another tour member. Single rooms are often available for a step-up fee.

 What’s included: All accommodations (four and five-star hotels typically), a tour director, sightseeing, local guides, internal traveling, necessary visas, and most meals, including one drink per meal (alcoholic or not) once the trip commences.

What’s not included: Travel to and from the departure location, travel insurance, early check-in or late departure from accommodations, gratuities, optional activities, and additional alcoholic drinks.

Unique features: SST provides a large support staff and hires unique local guides for each attraction. While they won’t book your travel to and from your tour start destination, they will assist you with travel arrangements. SST includes some unusual destinations, including the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) and Jordan. Finally, one glass of an alcoholic drink is included for each meal in your tour price — a standout inclusion.

4: The Women’s Travel Group

Cooking in Tuscany (Source: The Women's Travel Group)
Cooking in Tuscany (Source: The Women’s Travel Group)

The Women’s Travel Group (“WTG”) selects tour destinations where they have strong expertise and high-level connections. Started in 1992 by veteran travel expert Phyllis Stoller, WTG leverages partnerships with trusted travel vendors (such as SITA World Tours) to offer travel insurance, agency services, and exotic tour destinations.

Stoller started the business after getting bored travelling without the company of her husband, who could not take time off work for recreational travel. WTG offers travel for women throughout Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America, and other regions. Things to know:

Membership: There is no membership per se. Travelers register for each trip on a one-off basis.

Typical number of travelers per tour: 10-15 total; most are traveling solo.

Ages of travelers: Most travelers are in their 40s and 50s.

Example trips: Many trips are built around activities, such as seven days at the Ixtapan Spa Yoga & Fitness Resort in Mexico ($1,425); or seven days of cooking classes and sightseeing at a Tuscany villa ($2,999). Other trips are more traditional with an emphasis on sightseeing and experiencing the local culture, such as 11 days in the Caucasus, including Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia ($4,595). All prices assume double occupancy with another tour member. Single rooms are often available for a step-up fee.

What’s included: All accommodations (usually four or five-star hotels), a tour director, sightseeing, local guides, internal travel, necessary visas, and most meals (including a glass of wine with meals) once the trip commences.

What’s not included: Travel to and from the departure location, travel insurance, early check-in or late departure from accommodations, gratuities, optional activities, and additional alcoholic drinks.

Unique features: Stoller was one of the first in the women’s traveling space and clearly understands her clientele. She recognizes that some women may be fearful of traveling alone, and often spends time on the phone with clients allaying their anxiety. She appears to be doing something right as 90% of trippers come back for more. The company often provides book and film recommendations related to tour destinations to build anticipation and excitement, and always hosts a “Mix and Mingle” event for trippers to get to know each other on the first evening the tour.

WTG is also an IATAN-accredited company, reflecting its status as a high-quality tour operator. The company is also licensed to sell travel insurance and book flights for travel to and from any U.S. city to any tour start destination.

5: Damesly

The women from Damesly in Cuba (Source: Damesly Facebook)
The women from Damesly in Cuba (Source: Damesly Facebook)

Co-founded by travel titan Kelly Lewis (founder of Go! Girl Guides) and Alyson Kilday, Damesly is a woman-owned boutique tour company squarely focused on professional women Gen-Y’ers and Millennials. Trips with Damesly are often about adventures, professional workshops, and self-discovery, though not exclusively. Destinations include Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, North and South America, and the South Pacific. Things to know:

Membership: There is no membership requirement. Travelers register for each trip on a one-off basis.

Typical number of travelers per tour: 20 total; most travel solo.

Ages of travelers: Travelers range in age from their 30s-60s, though most are on the younger side.

Example trips: On the workshop front, Damesly’s travel options include a three-day photography workshop at the Grand Canyon ($1,850) or a four-day writing workshop in Istanbul ($1,850). More typical itineraries include an 11-day driving safari in Namibia (traveling from the dessert to the coast) ($3,850) or a seven-day sojourn to Uzbekistan ($2,850).

What’s included: All accommodations, a tour director, sightseeing, local guides, internal traveling, necessary visas, and most meals once the trip commences.

What’s not included: Travel to and from the departure location, travel insurance, early check-in or late departure from accommodations, gratuities, optional activities, and alcohol.

Unique features: Aside from including women-only trippers, tours are often woman-themed, with women-owned accommodations, restaurants, shopping cooperatives, and stores on the itinerary. Damesly will also assist in booking your flights to and from your tour start destination. Finally, with Damesly, you can gift a trip – perfect for your sister’s birthday or niece’s upcoming graduation.

Since travel insurance is not generally included in tour packages, you may need to get your own. For more information, check out our piece on travel insurance here. Finally, got a women’s tour operator we should know about? Drop us a line at editor@wideworldoftravel.com.