2017 Update: We stand by this advice on vacation packages for busy women — links have been updated below.
Travel planning can be a lot of fun, but it’s also time-consuming — and stressing out about a vacation kind of defeats the purpose. Vacation packages take almost all the planning out of the equation, and they don’t have to be the run-of-the-mill, giant-tour-bus trips that might spring to mind.
We’ve rounded up five types of vacation packages that seem just right for busy professional women who don’t have a lot of time to spend researching hotels, restaurants, activities, sightseeing spots, and so on. These companies are booking through 2017, but if you’re looking for last-minute options, you’re in luck: Now is a good time to find deals, as late summer is a less popular vacation time than early/mid-summer. (Check Last Minute Travel, CheapCaribbean, Travelzoo, or Groupon. You can also read our guest poster’s tips for traveling solo and check out our discussion on using all your vacation time.)
Specialty Vacation Packages: Women Only
Women Traveling Together was founded in 1997 by “a 40-year-old business woman who desperately wanted to do some vacation traveling, but didn’t want to go alone or travel as a single on a couples’ tour.” The company offers small group travel packages to destinations worldwide and offers single or double rooms. (The WTT website says that 80% of customers are solo travelers and most prefer to share.) The optional membership ($45/year) lets you connect with other members online to find like-minded travel companions or just get to know the women on your upcoming trip. Sample vacation: a 13-day China trip with tours of Beijing and Shanghai, a Great Wall walk, a Panda Breeding Center visit (!), a Li River cruise, and more. The package cost is $3,987/$4,952 (for single and shared rooms, respectively) and includes guide gratuities, a WTT tour leader, internal transportation (including flights), airport transfer, and meals (daily breakfast, 11 lunches, and 8 dinners).
Specialty Vacation Packages: Adventure Travel
Canyon Calling, an Arizona-based company whose tagline is “Adventures for Women,” puts together all-inclusive trip packages all over the world for “moderately-fit women” seeking activities like biking, sailing, camping, and kayaking. (They’re combined with less active offerings such as winery tours and museum visits.) Sample trip: “Costa Rican Explorer,” a seven-day package vacation that includes hiking, ziplining, canoeing, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, swimming in waterfalls, and soaking in natural hot springs (and that’s not all). The $2,995 cost covers a guided tour (gratuities included), land transportation, hotel accommodations, activities and excursions (fees included), one internal flight, and six days of meals. As with Women Traveling Together, 80% of Canyon Calling’s customers are women traveling by themselves.
Specialty Vacation Packages: Cooking Trips
If binge-watching “Master of None” on Netflix gave you the urge to learn to cook in Italy, check out companies like Cook in Tuscany, which offers an all-inclusive program for seven days and six nights in Montefollonico, Italy, that teaches travelers to cook authentic Italian food. The $3,750/person cost includes all cooking classes, tours, three meals a day, wine, excursions, receptions, bus tours, and gratuities. Cook in Tuscany is just one of the many, many options in the region; others include Tuscan Women Cook, Good Tastes of Tuscany, and Tuscookany. (If you want to venture beyond Tuscany, try the places recommended in this Food and Wine roundup.) The options for cooking classes can be overwhelming, so try TripAdvisor for travelers’ reviews.
Specialty Vacation Packages: Alumni Trips
If you’re not quite sure what kind of trip you’d like, look into the options offered by your college’s alumni association. There are likely to be a wide variety of vacations to domestic and international destinations, potentially with an educational component courtesy of a faculty member or alum. Plus, you have a built-in conversation topic if you travel alone: your alma mater! Otherwise, go with a group of college friends (mini-reunion!) and/or your significant other. A quick peek at my college’s website turned up trips to Greece, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, England, and many other intriguing places, including ones in the U.S. (national parks, anyone?). Sample vacation: a nine-day exploration of Provence that includes guided tours, transportation, entry fees, gratuities, seven nights’ lodging, and 16 meals with local wines. The cost ranges from $4,900–$6,800, depending on room type.
Have you ever bought a specialty vacation package you’ve really enjoyed? What sort of trip was it: a cruise, tour, adventure vacation, ecotourism trip, resort stay, or something else? Do you prefer to plan your own trips or are you just too busy to do it yourself?
Picture below via Pixabay.