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Explore and empower: The rise of women-only travel

The travel industry is finally waking up to the demand for female travel, with a raft of new women-only tours, many of which help to fund initiatives for local women and girls.

By Tamsin Wressell
Published 13 Jun 2018, 16:00 BST, Updated 14 Jul 2021, 14:57 BST
Tour operators are finally waking up to the rising demand for women-only travel.

Tour operators are finally waking up to the rising demand for women-only travel.

Photograph by Getty Images

The unprecedented rise of the female traveller knows no limits. Nearly two-thirds of travellers are now women. From the boom in women-only wellness weeks to girls-only surf clubs, and single-gender travel networking groups to many far-flung expeditions hosted by, and catering to, women, it's clear that sisters increasingly want to do it for themselves when it comes to exploring the world.

Tour operators are finally waking up to this rising demand, offering more than just token 'female' products. There's a raft of adventurous new itineraries catering to female travellers, many exploring places previously considered off-limits to females by the mainstream travel market — notably in Asia and the Middle East. And many of these tours help fund the communities they visit, offering employment and education to local women and girls.

The travel companies making a difference

G Adventures
Working in partnership with Planeterra, it funds Women on Wheels, a Delhi airport service run by local women to ensure safe hotel transfers for female travellers.

Responsible Travel
A sustainable tourism organisation whose women-only trips use companies owned or run by local women in developing countries.

One Traveller
The company is helping to support Project Ladli (run by non-profit organisation I-India). It houses and helps to educate local girls. Guests on its India itinerary can visit the schools.

Trips you can take now

Intrepid Travel
Where? Morocco, Iran and Jordan
What? Female-led tours focus on local women; their customs and the challenges they face.
Give me a taster: The eight-day Morocco trip begins in Marrakech then heads to more remote areas to visit Berber families. A highlight is a visit to an artist co-op supporting female rug-weavers in small villages.
Anything else? Intrepid Travel aims to double its number of female tour leaders by the year 2020.

Where? Worldwide, from Croatia to Costa Rica
What? The company's 11 female-led, female-only adventure-based trips help to support local women.
Give me a taster: The Indochina and Angkor tour takes in nine days of cycling through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Anything else? Exodus is supporting women in low-income areas of Nepal by partnering with Freedom Kit Bags, which supplies reusable sanitary products. One kit is donated for every booking.

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Published in the July/August 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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