5 Hottest Trends in Girl Getaways
Ask a group of women to pick their perfect girlfriend getaway and you’re bound to get some creative and varied responses. How can you and your traveling crew get on the same page and, ultimately, on the same plane?
We’ve learned through our travels that it’s all about compromise and choosing a vacation that’s fun and fulfilling for the entire party. That may sound like one tall order, but thanks to the recent surge in girlfriend getaways (56% of women now take them, with a 15% increase in trips booked in the past year, according to an American Express travel survey), there are more women-only adventures than ever.
Instead of standard female-focused fare, such as spa outings and in-suite slumber parties, the following 5 offerings provide the potential for a trip of a lifetime.
Find out more about TravelChannel.com's girl getaway gurus: The Lost Girls.
Scuba Diving "Camps"Diving’s camaraderie and buddy system make for a sure-fire bonding experience. Now, scuba diving “camps” are attracting groups of women, thanks to the plethora of affordable, all-inclusive scuba-focused resorts available worldwide. In addition to regularly scheduled dive trips, most offer a camp-like environment on the water, complete with cozy bungalows, communal dining and such group activities as horseback riding and kayaking. Organizations such as San Diego-based Scuba Diver Girls cater to this growing trend of girls-gone-diving: They help women plan ladies-only meet-ups and dive trips to such destinations as Mexico and Fiji.
Not certified? You can incorporate certification into your trip at these "camps," or complete a course at a local dive center before you go. For help planning, check out PADI’s Travel Network.
Lost Girls’ Love: We recently kicked up our fins at the Laguna Beach Resort in Utila, a tiny island off the coast of Honduras. This all-inclusive property offers 3 daily boat dives, plus 2 bonus night dives and unlimited shore dives. Utila is one of the few locations in the world where you can swim with the biggest fish in the ocean -- the elusive whale shark.
Culinary Learning VacationsShows like Bravo’s Top Chef and Food Network’s Paula’s Home Cooking have created an almost cult-like following for certain celeb chefs and have turned their restaurants into destination hotspots.
It can be fun to follow a culinary superstar to a chef’s table, but many women are no longer content just to taste their dishes; they want to learn how to make the food themselves. That’s likely why the number of women-only culinary vacations booked on the popular website Epitourean has doubled in the past year.
Once you’ve got an apron on and mise en place (“everything in place,” as the French say), you and your pals can learn to improve your cutting and cooking techniques as you prepare gourmet meals. The best part of the day (besides bonding with your buds, of course) is enjoying the fruits of your hard labor.
Lost Girls’ Love: You and your group can put your kitchen skills to the test during a 2- to 5-day boot camp at The Culinary Institute of America in Greystone, CA. Working alongside renowned chef instructors, you’ll be immersed in the art of food, such as perfecting a beuerre blanc sauce and learning how to braise osso buco. Camps are themed based on cuisine.
Destination RacingGetting away with the girls can be as much about reaching a fitness goal as it is about female bonding: Signing up for a destination 5K, 10K, half-marathon or a marathon with friends can help motivate you to train while providing an incentive to check out a new city. The number of women traveling for destination road races to such places as the Sonoma Valley, CA, or Edinburgh, Scotland, is increasing. Sixty-two percent of runners in Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series events in 2010 were women, as were 70% of half-marathon runners in Destination Races events.
Post-race wine and music festivals at some events provide extra motivation for crossing the finish line.
Lost Girls Love: A team of Lost Girls recently completed the Seneca 7, a 77.7-mile relay race around Seneca Lake on New York’s Finger Lakes wine trail. The region includes gorgeous parks such as Watkins Glen, so you can keep the fun going after your run with a relaxing weekend getaway. Rent a budget-friendly cottage overlooking the lake from Cobtree Vacation Rental Homes and design a do-it-yourself wine tasting tour through local vineyards such as Billsboro Winery and Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard.
Luxury CampingThe Glamping, or “glamorous camping” trend, is now more popular with women who want to experience the great outdoors without stressing about snakes, bugs and outhouses. Choose from safari tents, treehouses, airstream caravans and “yurts,” collapsible felt-fabric structures traditionally used by nomads in Mongolia (goglamping.com) Some glamp-ground owners have recently installed zip lines and rock-climbing walls to add a sense of adventure. Trying out a sporty new amenity gives you some serious bragging rights after you get home.
Lost Girls’ Love: Experience the red rocks and desert sky’s vivid stars in comfort at the Andaluz Rentals Yurt and Annex, located an hour’s drive from Santa Fe, NM. The yurt sleeps 4 campers, has a DVD player and hand-crafted furniture, and there’s an annex less than a minute away with a kitchen, bathroom and fold-out futon that can sleep 2 more. In your spare time, white-water raft in the Chama River that runs by the yurt, rock-climb in nearby Chaco Canyon and visit the home and museum of American artist Georgia O’Keeffe.
Shopping the SouksIt used to be that groups of gal-pals aspired to do their vacation shopping along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills or New York’s Madison Avenue. But thanks to the exotic markets featured in the film Sex and the City 2 and the television show Real Housewives of New York, groups of friends are now planning destination getaways to souks and bazaars worldwide.
These open-air markets, found primarily in Middle East cities, include hundreds of individual stalls that sell a menagerie of goods such as spices, fabric, handmade trinkets, tea sets, clothes and even precious jewelry. Some of the most renowned markets include those in Marrakesh, Morocco, Istanbul (Grand Bazaar), Dubai (Gold Market), Cairo (Khan el-Khalili), Jerusalem (Old City) and Syria (Aleppo Souk).
Lost Girls’ Love: Embark on an exotic journey to Morocco on one of several women-only tours offered by Venus Adventures. After honing your haggling skills in the souks in Fès and Marrakesh, you’ll ride camels into the Sahara Desert and sleep under the stars. Other highlights of the trip include hiking to the Atlas Mountains to stay with a local family in a mud hut village, experiencing a hammam (a traditional bath) and getting your hands dyed with henna in a traditional design.
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