You Go, Girls!

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You Go, Girls!

Best for Women  December/January/February 2009

“Chick trips” and girlfriend getaways are a booming trend in travel

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they spent $125 billion on travel, demonstrating not only the collective power of their pocketbooks, but also their independence. Other statistics are equally compelling: • 75 percent of those who take cultural, adventure or nature trips are women. • Women make 70 percent of all travel decisions. • In the past six years, there has been a staggering 230 percent increase in the number of womenonly travel companies. In addition to freedom and adventure, women seek a specific type of experience when they travel—one that often includes opportunities for learning and giving back, and situations that provide self-nurturing. So, they may study haute cuisine in Southern France, bathe in natural hot springs (onsen) in Japan, or make a meaningful contribution through a volunteer vacation <www.crossculturalsolutions.org> in Brazil, China, Peru or Costa Rica.

Wanderlust and lipstick Until recently, women rarely traveled alone—or even with girlfriends. Traditionally, they planned family vacations to make sure everyone else was happy, safe and entertained. Now, women—who have gained financial independence and garnered greater self-confidence—are saying, “It’s my turn.” “Twenty years ago it would have been unacceptable for a woman to say to her husband or her 10year-old child, ‘I’m going to take off on my own and travel with a girlfriend

Best for Women  December/January/February 2009

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velyn Hannon of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, loved traveling with her husband, staying in the most elegant of hotels. Then they divorced. Devastated, she wasn’t sure if she would ever be able to go anywhere on her own. Instead of wallowing, Hannon gave herself a challenge: if she could go away for five weeks and thrive, the trip would be a metaphor for the rest of her life. Without much money she asked a travel agency to find her the cheapest ticket to Europe. At age 42 and toting a backpack, Hannon headed off for Belgium. “I have to admit I probably cried for most of those 35 days,” she says. “I would see a sunset in the park and cry. I would eat alone and cry. But I also smiled a lot because I began to sense my strength. I was able to make connections along the way. And because of the people I met, I had dinner alone for only five nights. When I came back, I was bitten by the travel bug.” Since then, Hannon, who at 68 calls herself the “grandmother of travel,” has traveled across the world, from enrolling at a floating semester at sea worldwide <www.semesteratsea.org> to indulging at a thermal spa in Tuscany to experiencing the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. Her globe-trotting evoked a desire to help other women connect internationally, and help them travel safely and well by founding Journeywoman <www.journeywoman.com>, a free online travel resource offering networking tools and an online newsletter chock full of women’s insider travel tips. Today, Journeywoman is one of hundreds of services throughout the world that includes online sites, books and women-only travel agencies tapping into the phenomenal growth of women and travel. More than ever before, women are traveling the world alone or with gal pals, or signing up for allwomen tours. Taking trips with names such as girlfriend getaways, women’s wanderings or flying solo, women of all kinds—young, old, single, married, divorced and widowed—are taking to the highways and byways in record numbers. According to the Travel Channel, in 2007 32 million American women traveled independently and in 2008

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Women and Travel continued from page 13

Safety First It may sound boring and cliché, says Marybeth Bond, but better safe than sorry when traveling alone as a woman. “If you wouldn’t walk in an unknown neighborhood after dark at home, don’t do it overseas,” advises Bond of Northern California, an international travel expert and