Best Tour Companies for Women Travelers

November 2011

Best Tour Operators for Women Travelers

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Women love to travel, and we love travel with friends, solo or as part of a women only travel tour. Traveling with a tour group certainly has lots of bonuses. You can relax and not worry about the nitty gritty details, someone else is taking care of all of that boring stuff and that someone has up to date, specialized information about your travel destination.

GirlsGetaway would like to share our favorite tour operators for women who want to get away and want to have fun, without the hassles of travel planning. After talking to travel experts and ordinary women who have traveled with tour companies we’ve selected what we consider the six top tour operators in three categories: Women Only Tours, Luxury Tours and Budget Tours.

Women Only Tours

Wanderlust and Lipstick

In an interview last year with GirlsGetaway, owner Beth Whitman tells us about Wanderlust and Lipstick’s mission when leading tours.

“The Wanderlust and Lipstick tours are created to connect the tour participants with locals. It’s our aim to get beyond the surface experience and to really understand, as much as an outsider can, the local culture. We incorporate cooking classes, lectures on Buddhism, private musical performances and the like. I also like to build in opportunities to help the locals. We’ve donated books to school children in Bhutan and have visited (and donated to) ashrams for older people in India.”

As one of the top women’s only tour companies Wanderlust and Lipstick as a great reputation for delivering the kind of travel experiences women value most – a chance to visit world’s most fascinating regions in a safe and supportive environment. The company specializes in tours to Papua New Guinea, Bhutan, India and Vietnam & Cambodia, providing travelers with rich cultural experiences while traveling in comfort.

Serendipity Traveler

Serendipity Traveler specializes in providing upscale trips for active women. Their trips are ideal for a woman who doesn’t wish to travel alone, the groups are small and women travelers feel like they are traveling with friends. Tours include garden tours, walking, retreats, hiking, yoga and sailing.

Peggy R. Coonley, owner of Serendipity Traveler tells us what she believes women are looking for when traveling:

“Today’s women are traveling more and finding the restorative and renewing benefits that traveling well affords; time out just for themselves, after a divorce, celebrating cancer treatments ending, when the nest empties or adjusting when a husband dies. I see travel as a tool for transforming the landscapes of our lives. Life is Short, Travel Well.”

Luxury Tours

If money is no object and you want to experience the best in travel the following two companies deliver in spades.

Butterfield & Robinson

In 1966, Martha Butterfield and her husband George organized a student biking trip in France with her brother, Sidney Robinson. That pioneering venture evolved into Butterfield & Robinson, now one of the world’s top luxury active travel company (National Geographic). They believe the best way to travel is by bike, foot or boat. They want you to slow down, to experience all the world one step at a time.

Today Butterfield & Robinson sets the standard for guided travel, what do you get when you book a tour with B&R? The makings of a perfect journey – breathtaking scenery, the experiences wild and the comforts, well… Only one word can describe it – sublime.


cazenove+loyd is an award winning (Conde Nast Traveller) travel company, which focuses on luxury tailor made holidays in Africa+Indian Ocean, Central+South America and South+South East Asia.

Henrietta Loyd describes the typical client who books a trip with cazenove+loyd: “They are not interested in the flashiest holiday but in the most secluded, where they can get away from people. They are looking for a holiday where there are no complications and where we deal with absolutely everything.”

I love the story of how cazone + loyd got its start:

“I will never forget my first experience of Africa. I was a pretty naive 20 year old and had decided to follow the advice of my great uncles who had emigrated to Zimbabwe in the 1940’s and go to see the Victoria Falls which they felt was something that should not be missed in life so off I went…”

Read the rest of Henriett’a story on the cazone + loyd website.

Budget Tours

Contiki Tours

A Contiki tour is a great option if you’ve never traveled before – the whole travel experience is pretty much served to you neatly on a platter, so it definitely has its perks for a nervous first time world traveler on a limited budget.

Contiki’s philosophy is simple. Create hassle-free holidays with a mix of sightseeing, culture, & free time, on a small budget. They claim to be the worldwide leader in tours for 18-35’s, operating in over 40 countries around the world on 5 continents. One thing is pretty certain on a Contiki tour – you will have fun.

Intrepid Tours

I like Intrepid and I like their tours. Intrepid has years of experience leading tours, their trips are well organized and they have great guides, who are enthusiastic and passionate about the countries and cultures they’re representing. Intrepid also has a high safety standard – which I consider a high priority.

I spoke recently to a woman who has worked in the past for Intrepid and a few other tour companies, she recommends Intrepid for inexpensive, small group travel.

Intrepid tours allow you to experience things that would be difficult to do as an independent traveler. From a home stay in a tribal village to drifting down the Nile on a felucca, this is all part and parcel of an Intrepid tour. You get to experience a new location through the eyes of a local. You’ll travel on public transport, eat traditional foods and learn about new cultures. Additionally, Intrepid places a lot of focus on sustainability: everything from carbon-neutral offices, to carbon offsets for trips. they take pride in their company wide policy on responsible travel.

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