If there’s one thing we know for certain it’s that women absolutely dominate the travel space.
According to Forbes, women make 80 percent of the decisions when it comes to travel for their family, including where to go and what to do on vacations. In 2014, Forbes expected women to spend $125 billion on travel alone. And women, a 2014 Booking.com survey found, are far more apt to go on global adventures alone as well.
According to the Booking.com survey, American women ranked first in the most frequent solo travelers. They are also the most likely to take three or more trips in a single year. Though there’s plenty of adventures to be had alone there are now a few companies catering to women wanting to travel in all-female groups too. And that’s where experts like Jenny Gray, Intrepid Travel’s senior product manager, come in.
“Intrepid is committed to diversity and inclusion at all levels and we had this firmly in mind when creating our women-only expeditions,” Gray shares with Departures. “These tours are about empowering women in countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East while offering female travelers the chance to delve deeper into the lives of local women.”
It’s a type of journey I got to experience first-hand in September while traveling with Intrepid and Gray herself on the company’s very first women’s expedition to Kenya.
It was there that I saw the power of a curated itinerary that focuses on the strength, bond, and unique nature of female relationships all over the globe. It was also there that I finally truly understood the power of a circular economy for traveling women. That meant we invested in local women, who in turn, invested their time and energy into creating unforgettable moments for their guests.
“What we didn’t want to do was replicate run of the mill itineraries, or fuel gender stereotypes,” Gray says. “The kind of experiences we’ve included on these itineraries are ones travelers wouldn’t have access to in a mixed-gender group.”
On the itineraries Gray crafts with Intrepid the aim is to give women real and firsthand insight into the daily lives of local women. That includes young women, older women, conservative, moderate, religious, and otherwise. It also includes getting time to sit and talk about things woman-to-woman that you may otherwise be too afraid to ask without meeting face-to-face.
On our trip through Kenya, there wasn’t a female cliché to be had. In fact, it was quite the opposite. When we arrived for our Kenyan adventure we met with our driver, Becky, who happens to be the only female overland driver in all of East Africa.
We went on for days meeting female business owners, spent time in women-only villages, and met with young girls rescued from forced marriages who are now attending school and universities instead. It brought out a visceral sense of female community I’d never felt before, and it was a feeling I wanted to guard and cherish forever.
The premise of all the Intrepid trips, Gray says, came following expeditions through the Middle East region. It was there that local interaction became complex with mix-gendered groups. But, rather than focus on the hardships, Intrepid saw it as an opportunity to help both local women and female travelers.
“It’s really about breaking down barriers and fostering genuine discussions and connections, and it’s absolutely a two-way street,” Gray says. “Our local female leaders and suppliers are just as excited to have this unique opportunity to invite travelers into their lives and to share their stories.”
Beyond getting to know one another on a deeper level, Gray says these trips are purely focused on supporting female empowerment. Visitors help in that by purchasing the tours in the first place, which in part go to benefit local women by staying in female-owned accommodation, dining in female-run restaurants, purchasing goods from suppliers, and visiting female-run businesses.
The one issue women may face while trying to take one of these trips is actually booking one as they are already a wildly popular option. According to Gray, after launching the first round of trips on International Women’s Day in 2018, the women’s expeditions quickly became one of the most popular ranges in the company’s history. Now, Intrepid offers dozens of options for female-only expeditions across the globe, with new destinations launching in 2020, which are all perfectly suited for your next women’s adventure.
“These expeditions have all the hallmark of a classic Intrepid Travel adventure–local leadership, local transport, real-life experiences–but with an added focus on female travel and female empowerment,” Gray says. “More than 65 percent of our travelers are female and these Women’s Expeditions offer a unique opportunity for female travelers from around the world to connect with each other and learn more about women all across the globe and their day-to-day lives.”