Sisterhood of travelling: Women-only luxury tours mix fun and friendship

Huda Alvi, left, and Sana Alvi pose in this undated handout photo. On a recent trip to Tulum, Mexico, Toronto sisters Huda and Sana Alvi bonded with a group of women who were virtual strangers. They had curated experiences together, including a picnic lunch on the beach and a boat ride and swim by the Mayan ruins, and sat in a circle reflecting on their excursion and lives. The journey was part of the sisters’ new company The Girls Trip, one of a plethora of tour operators offering women curated luxury getaways to bucket-list destinations like Morocco and Peru, with the safety of a group and guides, and a focus on building new relationships and enjoying a sisterhood. HO / THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO — On a recent trip to Tulum, Mexico, sisters Huda and Sana Alvi bonded with a group of women who were virtual strangers.

They developed a connection over several curated experiences, including a picnic lunch on the beach and a boat ride and swim by the Mayan ruins, and sat in a circle reflecting on their excursion and lives.

The journey was part of the Toronto sisters’ new company The Girls Trip, one of a plethora of tour operators offering women luxury getaways to bucket-list destinations like Morocco and Peru, with the safety of a group and guides, and a focus on building new relationships and enjoying a sisterhood.

“Our mission is to empower more women to travel, especially solo women,” says Alvi, whose company launched in April and has an age demographic of about 25 to 45. It also offers a monthly payment plan for the trips.

“There are a lot of countries where you can’t travel alone (as a woman) or you’re scared to travel alone, but you do want that solo experience where you’ve left all your friends and left your work, and you just want to go on this life experience and this mission — and how incredible to be able to share that with other women.”

It’s a market that has “grown exponentially in the last little while,” adds Alvi, a brand consultant and influencer who previously ran a human resources company.

“Based on some of the research we’ve been doing, the solo female travel space is going to be expanding heavily in the next five years,” she says. “Women are looking to be more independent and experience things that they’ve never done before, so really coming out of their insecurities or fears.”

The market is also growing for the more mature female traveller, says Debbie Ross, founder of Women’s Travel Network. Her company caters to women typically between the ages of 40 to 60, but also accepts those outside that range.

“I’m dealing with the baby boomers. They’re retiring and they’re going to go out and see the world,” says Ross, who is based in Toronto.

“Many of them have had very busy careers that didn’t allow them to travel as much as they wanted to, or they were raising children, or finances, putting kids through university. So now they’re going, ‘It’s my turn.”‘

Ross launched her company, which is affiliated with Worldwide Quest International, 15 years ago after the former travel agent realized there was a gap in the market for women like herself.

“I was going through a tough time in my life and I thought, ‘Ugh, I need a holiday, I want to get out of here but I want to travel with women that understand all that I’m going through,”‘ Ross recalls.

“My husband was in the hospital, my teenage daughter was being difficult and I just wanted to get away. When I went online there was nothing in Canada and I thought, ‘Wow, if I’m saying that, what about the widows and the divorced women? What about the people who just want to pick up and go and don’t have anyone to travel with?”‘

Becky van Dijk, co-founder of London-based Travel Girls Getaways by We Are Travel Girls, recalls wanting to go on adventures in her former career as a banker but not having any friends who were interested in the same destinations.

Her company’s demographic is women in their late 20s and 30s, although they have had women up to 65 join their trips.

“I do think in this age and right now, people are looking for women’s experiences where they’re not necessarily worrying about men,” van Dijk says.

“With this current movement, I think there are more women looking for this type of trip.”

Each company offers different voyages but are typically open to travellers from anywhere in the world, with group sizes ranging between 10 and 16. All details of the trip are typically taken care of, but travellers usually have to book their own flight.

Some companies, like The Girls Trip, have optional add-on experiences and a photographer available.

“We create a sisterhood for them and they make friends and they often will travel again together,” says Ross.

“My first tour that I took, those women became great friends, all strangers, and travel every two years together and see each other often and celebrate birthdays and weddings and whatever.”

The Girls Trip Tours
5.0
Based on 42 reviews
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Asmini Patel
Asmini Patel
14:17 07 Nov 19
This company takes great pride in all the details, which really makes the trip a special time away. After completing my... first trip with them, I can definitely say that they made every effort in creating an organized, safe, adventurous, well-captured, bucket list experience! Weather you are going solo or with a friend, I highly recommend TGT tours.read more
Lisa Wenstrom
Lisa Wenstrom
22:57 04 Nov 19
As a traveller who has travelled solo with various tour groups, my experience on The Girls Trip surpassed all others. ... The accommodations, leadership, and food choices were all well thought out and organized. What set this experience apart was the amazing group of women that I met along the way. I would recommend this trip to any female looking to explore something new and meet some amazing people along the way.read more
Nicole Delorme
Nicole Delorme
18:07 02 Nov 19
One of the most amazing experiences of my life! I was nervous to travel solo but am so happy I made the decision to... travel with The Girls Trip. I travelled with 18 women in Peru and everyone, including the trip leaders, were wonderful. All accommodations and excursions were extremely well thought out and I’m already looking forward to my next trip!!read more
Nav Grewall
Nav Grewall
00:45 09 Oct 19
The Girls Trip. Monthly payment plans, curated itineraries, luxury accommodations, fully catered meals, professional... and friendly staff. Everything is taken care of and communicated effectively. My first time travelling solo couldn’t have been easier or gone better. Definitely the only way to travel and the only company to book with. Looking forward to booking the next one.read more
Margaret Smith
Margaret Smith
17:46 02 Oct 19
The trip to Morocco was next level amazing. I had always wanted to visit Morocco but planning that trip seemed... overwhelming. I didn’t even know where to start. This allowed me to be able to just sign up & go. The ease and simplicity was very refreshing. What I didn’t expect was to meet so many amazing new friends through the process. I could go on and on but wouldn’t be able to do it justice. It’s just something that needs to be experienced.read more
Katherine Hassan-Legault
Katherine Hassan-Legault
16:49 02 Oct 19
I participated in the first Morocco trip and it was such an amazing experience! From everyone in the group connecting... really well, to the food, accommodations and experiences choices, everything was well thought out to give a wonderful mix of cultural and luxury travel. What I especially love is the managers' dedication to each member's independence: there was always a choice to opt in and out of activities and make it your own trip. Oh, and it was the perfect Pinterest holiday!read more
Alexa Akbari
Alexa Akbari
16:32 25 Aug 19
These women are absolutely amazing! Signing up is simple, communication is prompt, and they organize everything! Bali... has been on my bucket list for years, but I wasn’t completely comfortable traveling to Indonesia alone so I decided to give TGT a try. I’m so happy I did! I spent a week getting to know all of the girls and exploring the island. We truly bonded and created a lifetime of memories. Love y’all ♥️ Thank you!read more
Reema Shrivas
Reema Shrivas
00:47 24 Aug 19
What a great experience!! There is something for everyone from all walks of life. The experience with the girls trip... from start to finish was wonderful. I felt like all the mangers of the girls trip had our best interest at heart and made this experience and unforgettable and enlightening one. If you Trip with The Girls Trip, expect to come back with new friends, fond memories, and a new and positive perspective. ☺️read more
Alison Lee
Alison Lee
20:11 21 Nov 18
Beautiful well planned vacation! I was part of the first trip to Tulum, Mexico. We had delicious food everyday and... everything you would have wanted to do was planned for us. Fantastic trip with the most amazing group of ladies.read more
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