Ladies-only travel adventures taking off
Women-only holidays are taking off, with increasing numbers of them travelling solo or with girlfriends.
They're shopping overseas, rolling up their sleeves at cooking classes, rejuvenating at health retreats, trekking remote trails and just finding some "me time".
A recent survey by lastminute.com shows that 46 per cent of women have holidayed alone in the past 12 months and the Small Luxury Hotels group reports a 53 per cent increase in room nights booked by single female occupants.
"We have seen women-only travel as an emerging trend for the past few years," said Bridget McDonald, the director of boutique agency Cherry Picked Travel.
"Women are getting more confident about travelling alone, and in groups, and many prefer to travel with other women. Travelling with other females allows them to see and do things that suit them, rather than catering to the differing tastes of men," she said.
Ms McDonald said some of the activities women like include shopping, dining out, cocktail hours, cooking classes, massages and yoga.
David Goldman, joint managing director of the Goldman Travel Corporation, said women like to take up cooking classes, often in Europe and travelling as mother/daughter, and to relax at resort areas in Thailand and Fiji.
He said they also like to go to retreats in Australia such as Gaia (Byron Bay), Gwinganna (Gold Coast hinterland) and Golden Door (Hunter Valley and Gold Coast hinterland).
Catherine Baker, a consultant who specialises in women-only travel for Flight Centre offshoot Travel Associates, said women are also hitting the adventure trail.
"Women-only travel is popular these days and involves everything from walking and hiking in Nepal, going to Africa, going on the Inca Trail and lovely holidays in Europe where they do one-day walks and culinary tours," she said.
"Sometimes it is multi-generational travel, like mums and daughters doing trips together, or sometimes three generations that will travel to spend quality time together and do something pretty amazing."
Jill Doble has just landed back in Australia after a two-week women-only trip, arranged through Travel Associates, to hike part of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail in Spain.
"It was my first trip to Europe and a non-English speaking country. Part of doing it with a women-only group and a guide was the sense of safety," she said. "I am in my 50s and most other women were about that age. It was non-threatening and it was good to be with like-minded people, women in particular."
Doble said it was a bit soon to plan her next journey, but she has her eye on a women-only writers' trip to Italy.
Jayson Westbury, the chief executive of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, said women-only travel may be in a renaissance.
"There are lots of forms of niche travel and certainly travel that brings women together is a tremendous idea," he said. "It's like travel with kids, a space that has also got a heavy following."
Sydney Morning Herald