This One’s for the Ladies

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Discovering the Joys of Women-Only Travel

Solo travel has received some attention in the West Michigan Woman universe lately, with readers divided on whether it's a good idea or ... well ... Not so much. To each her own, we say!

Those in the latter camp, take note: Women-only travel is not only emerging, it's flourishing as an option to satisfy adventurers who simply prefer to journey in the company of others—and not necessarily those of the male persuasion.

More than merely a girlfriends' getaway—though we love a wellness retreat or a weekend trip taking on big city days and nights—women-only excursions elevate sisterhood and camaraderie to the next level. And they cater to individuals as well as groups, so it doesn't matter if you're one or many.

There are a number of reasons women choose to travel together. Here are a few.

Some destinations may seem out of reach because of cultural and social ideas about unaccompanied women. Or language barriers. Or sheer overwhelming-ness. An experienced tour guide could help navigate those challenges, providing the opportunity to visit the places of your dreams with less apprehension and risk—and with the comfort of many and without a needing a male counterpart.

Many view a femmes' vacation as a chance to strengthen existing bonds and build new ones with other like-minded women. Whether it's whitewater rafting, summiting a mountain, communing in a sacred space, wandering bustling cities, or exploring the world's great wonders, the experience can leave a profound impression—and create memories and connections that last a lifetime.

Men's behavior can sometimes be domineering—and their presence inhibiting. Removing them from the situation allows for less restricted expression: of our ideas, our actions, and our bodies. Call it a safe space if you will, but it's more of an escape from the possibility of ogling eyes, judging minds, and aggressive, overpowering demeanors. It's also more about fostering femininity openly and less about bashing the boys. Men might not ever enter the conversation!

Just as there are male stereotypes like those described above, females might also be cast as the villains. We can be too critical and play the shame game—even when we know we're better off supporting and encouraging of one another. A women-only trip provides the structure to form trusting relationships and mutual respect, along with the opportunity to learn about others' lives, grow emotionally, and celebrate all the marvels of womanhood.

Allison Kay Bannister, a West Michigan resident since 1987, professional writer since 2002 and GVSU alumna, recently launched her own freelance writing business. Allison enjoys travel, art, dance, food and exploring world cultures—and, of course, writing about all these and more.

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