Small group tours can be much more focused than large tours that try to appeal to everyone. Many small group tours focus on a specific geographic area, like our European Experiences trips in the Luberon, Chianti, and the Salzkammergut. Other small group trips focus on enjoying a special interest in that area, such as art or concerts. One important benefit of any small group tour is the compatible group of fellow travelers who enhance the travel experience. This is especially true when tours focus on a specific type of traveler.
Although most of our European Experiences weeks are open to anyone, we do offer some trips for a very special group: women travelers. We’ve already designated our May 19-26, 2012 Luberon Experience trip as a special Women’s Week. We’re also considering opening up a second Women’s Week in the Chianti region of Tuscany the week of June 9-16.
Women’s Week is very important to me personally… it’s the trip I’d always dreamed of! I met Charley when I was 35 and we got married the next year. Before then I’d always wanted to go to Europe, but I didn’t have anyone to go with. After Charley and I got married and started traveling together, I met many women who wanted to travel abroad but didn’t want to go alone or end up on a tour surrounded by couples. My European travel experiences had such an impact on me, and I really wanted to help more women travel and especially to experience our beautiful area of Provence. So when we started European Experiences, Charley and I decided to designate at least one of our weeks each year as a “Women’s Week.” He and I both really look forward to these groups.
We don’t have designated “couples” weeks on our European Experiences trips, and it’s unusual for us to have a group that’s only couples. We welcome solo travelers, and men or women traveling alone would feel comfortable in any of our groups. But we’ve found that some women really prefer an all women’s group– and we understand why. It’s relaxing and fun!
Since our first Luberon Experience Women’s Week in 2007, our all-women groups have included women of all ages, from all over the USA, Australia and Canada. Our women’s groups have included solo travelers, college roommates, friends, mothers and daughters, and sisters. These groups bond very quickly, and in just a few hours, everyone is among friends. I love being part of these groups.
I asked several women who have been part of our Womens Weeks groups to share more about their experiences:
“We had organized a group of girlfriends. My friend Lavonne suggested we do a girls’ trip to Provence, and I found Kathy and Charley’s week to be a perfect fit. We all loved visiting gardens, shopping in charming markets, dining on great food and fabulous wines, laughing, and exploring lovely Provence with our experienced guides who took us to the best of the best. It was worry free–no decisions, just have fun. I especially spending the week with my sister who had never traveled abroad.” (Lindsay – California)
“This was my first trip to Europe. My husband doesn’t travel at all but my sister Eileen is an experienced traveler. The Luberon Experience Women’s Week was exactly what we needed for my first trip abroad. I didn’t have to decide where to eat, what to see, and most of all how to get around in a foreign country. Our group included another pair of sisters, a mother and daughter, two childhood friends, and one single traveler. We mixed and mingled all week, and many of us still keep in touch. I think Women’s Week is a fabulous idea for a female solo traveler. I’ll do another trip with Kathy and Charley. I would not hesitate to go alone because I know once I am introduced to the group, I’ll have companions for the week and friends for a lifetime.” (Lorraine – South Carolina)
“As I was traveling on my own, I thought it more likely that within an all women’s group I would be included by others in activities in the non-structured tour times. I was right. I loved the flexibility. If in the free time I wanted to read a book or have a sleep, I could. Or if I wanted to go for a walk, go shopping or go to a café or restaurant, there always seemed to be someone else to share this experience with. Everyone got along together very well. It was great getting to know everyone and sharing our life stories. I felt there developed over the week a very strong sense of companionship within this lovely group of women with such different lives. We enjoyed a lot of laughter and good times – who could forget our wonderful lunch with our host playing the guitar and singing whilst some of the group danced!” (Lisa – Queensland, Australia)
“My mother and I chose the Women’s Week tour because it seemed so very appropriate for us as a mother/daughter duo. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with other women and each other. I really enjoyed the feeling of camaraderie in our group. There was a feeling of easy companionship, a feeling of acceptance, and at times a shared joy in the experience. One special memory is the ‘on your own’ evening meal my mom and I shared with two of the women we met in our group. We ate at the restaurant across the street from our B&B. We laughed and celebrated, sharing amazing conversation, food and wine.” (Anne – Minnesota)
“My sister Ginny and I wanted a small group tour in Provence and The Luberon Experience had everything we wanted. We also wanted to be in Paris on my 50th birthday and in Provence the next week. It happened to work out for us that it was Women’s Week. I think we would have come regardless of that, but it really was a lot of fun. The women in the group seemed to be interested in the same types of things for the most part. We were very cohesive.” (Cathy – Iowa)
Valerie joined us for Women’s Week in 2009 and enjoyed it so much that she and her friend Julie came back this summer for one of our other Luberon Experience groups. “The women’s trip was a chance for all of us women to eat as much as we like, drink as much as we like, shop till we drop, and even have a beer and play cards, all while enjoying the most lovely place on earth. The trips themselves were the two best I ever had… well-orchestrated, friendly, fun-filled and full of warmth and charm.” (Valerie – Montana)
Fellow Slow Travel tour leader Kristi Steiner and her husband Bill of Adventures in Italy also often host all-women’s group and she beautifully describes what we’ve experienced in our Women’s Week. “Because most of our trips focus on exploring a creative art form while in Italy, our guests are often women. We see their level of sharing, of connecting, and of relaxing comfortably in this foreign land heightened by being with other women. Total strangers almost instantly become friends and often stay in close touch upon returning home. We love our all-women’s groups because of the beautiful transformations we witness during their week with us. We see the stress, the responsibilities, the worries of the world peel off weary shoulders day by enchanted day. At the end of their trip, most women are glowing with a new found vibrancy and zest for life.”
Whether you’re a woman traveling on your own or with a friend, sister, mother or daughter, an all-women’s tour could be just the trip you’ve always dreamed of! Or think about the special women in your life; this might also be the ideal type of trip for them!
Kathy and Charley Wood lead European Experiences, week-long “slow tours” in some of the most beautiful areas of Europe, including The Luberon Experience in Provence, France. National Geographic Traveler magazine named The Luberon Experience one of their top 50 tours in the world in 2012.
Kathy and Charley host Experience weeks in the Luberon, the Chianti region of Tuscany, Puglia, Alsace, the Dordogne, and the Cotswolds. They also offer two longer tours: The European Christmas Experience (12 days) and The Cornwall Experience in southwest England (10 days).
Kathy and Charley have been traveling in Europe for almost 30 years and love sharing their special places in Europe with other travelers. They've hosted 120 Experience groups since they launched in 2006. They have a second home in their beloved village of Bonnieux in the Luberon. Read more about Kathy and Charley here.
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.