“Life isn’t measured in how many breaths you take but in the moments that take your breath away,” said Susan Eckert, president of Adventure Women, an adventure travel company based in Bozeman, Montana.
Such could be the mantra that accompanies every bank travel tour, but the thought is especially relevant for tours designed especially for women. Whether the excursions include mothers and daughters, lifetime girl friends or bank travel buddies, women traveling together create special bonds through the experiences they share.
Many tour companies and destinations are catering to this niche travel market.
So when it comes to partnering a tour of the Vatican with some designer, knockoff shopping or enjoying a cooking class after some time at the ruins of Pompeii, or having dinner at the Eiffel Tower after a day at Disneyland Paris, leave the guys behind.
This one is for the girls.
Wild West Women Adventure
Mountain Sky Guest Ranch
Cowgirls of all ages can choose from four- or five-night packages, offered three times a year, at Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, an upscale ranch resort located within Montana’s Rocky Mountains.
“Women can participate in a variety of horsemanship opportunities and interactive demonstrations on our working cattle ranch, learn to groom and tack horses, explore 8,000 acres of unspoiled ranch property, fly-fish on our private trout ponds, explore Yellowstone National Park on a guided tour and learn to two-step to the tunes of our local musicians,” said Yancey Arterburn, general manager.
Optional daily horseback rides, hiking and yoga can also be part of the experience.
If high-level activity isn’t on some of your women’s wish lists, it’s not a problem: Arterburn added that soaking up the sunshine by the pool, taking a leisurely stroll along Big Creek, singing Western songs on a hayride and enjoying gourmet meals around the campfire are often the favorite offerings by even the most avid horseback riders.
British Virgin Islands
Every year in March, Adventure Women ventures to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands to board a luxury yacht and sail the Caribbean for a six-day excursion.
“For 2011, we have selected a marvelous sailboat, the Cuan Law, the world’s largest trimaran — three hulls — an ideal place to rest and relax BVI-style,” said Eckert.
Each participant has a private suite stateroom and the opportunity to wander through a vast main salon and explore the open deck. The activities include sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving and sea kayaking in different locations throughout the British Virgin Islands.
“Our longest-running, most popular winter escape, the all-inclusive meals with completely decadent and fabulous cuisine, are served under the aft deck canopy with views that change with every meal,” said Eckert.
The oldest adventure travel company for active women over 30, Adventure Women targets women traveling solo or with sisters, mothers, daughters and friends.
“We travel around the world, and each trip is carefully researched and designed and combines the best in women’s travel with safety, comfort, luxury and adventure,” said Eckert. “We encourage women to follow their passions for action, personal challenge or well-deserved rest and relaxation.”
Amalfi Coast Discovery
Gutsy Women Travel
April Merenda, president of Gutsy Women Travel, said women have a love affair with the company’s Italian destinations but that the Amalfi Coast is the top pick with female travelers, including her own family.
“For me, it was a dream come true to take my 87-year-old mother, who is from Salerno, on our Amalfi Coast June 2009 trip along with two of my sisters,” she said. “We went to the hometown where she was born and met relatives we had never met in person. It was a journey of a lifetime for all of us.
“This is what Gutsy Women Travel affords women, an opportunity to create memories,” she said.
Gutsy Women Travel makes this eight-day trip twice annually and includes a stay in the sea-cliff town of Sorrento, excursions to the ruins of Pompeii, wine-tasting at a local farm, a speedboat excursion to the Isle of Capri, a full day traveling along the Amalfi Coast, lunch at a traditional mozzarella farm and a Neapolitan cooking class.
“Our guests learn local Italian flair as they prepare a tasty pasta lunch and then enjoy the fruits of their labor,” said Merenda.
Abundant time is also given for group members to leisurely explore cafes and shops of this stunning destination.
Arts and Politics in Washington
Sights and Souls Travels
Sights and Souls Travel, a worldwide women-only travel company, caters to today’s travelers, allowing maximum local immersion by eliminating constant packing and unpacking. All tours are divided between two locations, using two hotels at most.
The annual five-day City on the Hill excursion to Washington, D.C., which can be combined with the company’s Ultimate New York City Tour, provides guests accommodations at a centrally located four-star hotel.
Women enjoy a private tour of the colonial-era town of Alexandria, Virginia, time at the National Gallery of Art, a Potomac River cruise and a guided tour of the Capitol, the Library of Congress and the most renowned monuments in the city.
Another highlight of this tour is a performance at the Kennedy Center.
Throughout the tour, group members dine a la carte in gourmet restaurants, sampling international cuisine, seafood and the famous Maryland crab cakes.
Rome and Venice during Carnival
Women’s Travel Club
This seven-day excursion every March includes a walking tour of the Spanish Steps, the Piazza Navonna, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and a stop in Chianti country for lunch and a wine-tasting.
“With the special events, special foods and decorations, this is such a special time to be in Italy. The neighborhoods have parades that hearken back to ancient times. We see educational and stimulating events that most of our guests didn’t know existed,” said Phyllis Stoller, founder of the Women’s Travel Club, which includes three offices in Europe and ventures around the world.
“And while our club doesn’t usually have an emphasis on shopping, we subliminally connect shopping to Italy, and this trip doesn’t disappoint. Our Italian escort is always on hand for suggestions of the best deals, whether it be the fabulous knockoffs at outdoor markets or the real, European treasures at the Mall in Florence.”
This Italian itinerary offers an optional tour of the Vatican and considerable free time to explore Rome and Florence. Stoller is especially proud of the extremely affordable prices of the Women’s Travel Club’s tours.
“We travel to five continents, and because we are a division of a large corporation, ABC Destinations, our buying power and four- and five-star-quality accommodations are true benefits for our customers,” she said.
Dream Destinations Travel Club
Dream Destinations Travel Club appeals to discerning baby boomers and younger travelers who want lots of free time to make their own choices.
“Our thoughts are people like to travel with groups but do not necessarily want to always be with the group,” said co-owner Tomi Holden. “This might especially be true with women and family members who are on the tour.
“We offer all the convenience, safety, economic benefits and fun in traveling with a group, but once we reach our destination, we offer options and choices for people to be on their own for much of the time.”
The company is offering a mother-daughter-granddaughter excursion to Paris in July, a six-day trip that will include dinner at the Eiffel Tower and an evening cruise on the River Seine. Optional excursions are offered to Disneyland Paris, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum and the Moulin Rouge show.
“We give our guests a five-day pass on this city’s hop-on, hop-off buses that make the rounds to 27 different attractions,” said Holden. “These buses are an exciting and safe way to see this extraordinary destination known as the City of Light.”