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Ready for a Getaway With Like-Minded Travelers?

Here are our favorite U.S. group tours for older women.

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Courtesy Road Scholar
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It's time to bust the myth that women can't travel alone!

According to a "2023 Trend In Solo Senior Travel" report by Road Scholar, 20 to 30 percent of its nearly 100,000 travelers each year go solo — and that number is on the rise. Of these, 85 percent of Road Scholar’s travelers are women, who cite reasons such as ease in making friends, autonomy in decision-making, and having their own space as top drivers for solo adventures.

Health and safety issues factor in, too.

"Traveling within the United States eliminates a lot of the worries travelers have such as safety and access to healthcare," says Dionne Evans, agency owner/luxury travel advisor with Travel by DAE.

Jen Rosa, franchise owner/travel advisor with Cruise Planners, echoes this sentiment: "We have ADA rules, which other countries do not, so if somebody has mobility difficulties, it’s much easier to travel in the U.S."

Women of all ages are embracing solo journeys, finding fulfillment and joy, whether they travel around the world or across the country. If you want independence and community, consider joining a women-focused travel group for a secure, mindful experience. In doing so, you’ll meet like-minded women in a small group setting that fosters self-discovery and connection.

Here are some curated United States group tours designed for female travelers.

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Road Scholar organizes trips throughout the country, including this one to Big Bend National Park in Texas.
Alyssa Bichunsky/Road Scholar

Road Scholar

Billing itself as "the world leader in educational travel for boomers and beyond," this nonprofit organization launched in 1975 as Elderhostel. Since then, it’s served more than 6 million lifelong learners — with 70 percent of travelers being women. (The average age is 72, and the average group size is 20.) This year alone, the nonprofit operated about 4,000 program departures, including 1,700 in the United States.

"We estimate that nearly 60 percent of our solo travelers are married and travel without their spouse. I find that really inspiring!" says Meghan Flynn, AVP, program management & strategy, with Road Scholar. "It’s great to know that older women travelers today are so independent and aren’t letting any inhibitions or [lack of] companions hold them back from exploring the world!"

Road Scholar boasts National Parks and Signature City programs — two of their most popular U.S. collections — along with plenty of opportunities to explore hobbies like pickleball or bridge. "Starting with a domestic program is a great way to dip your toes in the water, especially if you’re a solo traveler trying a group trip for the first time," explains Flynn. “Domestic travel is less expensive, and you can even select a program that you can drive to, avoiding air travel hassles."

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A traveler takes in rolling hills in the English Countryside with Go Ahead Tours.
Courtesy Go Ahead Tours

EF Go Ahead Tours

Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, EF Go Ahead Tours has been operating for over 55 years, with more than half of their travelers being women and an average group size of around 30. The company currently offers a dozen U.S. tours, ranging from New England, Alaska and Hawaii to the National Parks and the South. The tours appeal to women ages 50 and older, thanks to the manageable pace and the educational, comprehensive itineraries.

"We take the worry away and plan the details so travelers can focus on the new sights, sounds and flavors of a destination — and often new friendships!" explains Heidi Durflinger, president of EF Go Ahead Tours. She says that the tour directors accompany the group for the duration of the tour — from arrival at the airport to departure on the final day. "It’s travel made easy so you can explore wherever you want to go without apprehension."

Noting there’s so much to see right in our own backyard, Durflinger says, "You won’t have to worry about international entry requirements, yet you can still experience stunning landscapes, valley vineyards and scenic hiking trails."

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Group trips to locations like Alaska and Hawaii are made simple with My Senior Travel Buddies
Courtesy My Senior Travel Buddies

My Senior Travel Buddies

Based in San Diego, My Senior Travel Buddies launched just two years ago, with 90 percent of its travelers being women (100 percent of them age 50 and older) and a typical group size of 25 to 30 women.

"Many of our travelers are a bit anxious to travel outside the U.S. when they’re traveling solo," notes travel agent Monique Kiefner. She advises finding the right tour to fit your activity style. "If you have a little bit of mobility issues, just keep that in mind when and find the group and trip that can accommodate that."

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Gutsy Women Travel provides small group tours to National Parks throughout the country.
Courtesy Gutsy Women Travel

Gutsy Women Travel

New York-based Gutsy Women Travel launched in November 2001, with the first trips occurring in 2002. Since its inception, Gutsy Women has hosted more than 500 group trips, with over 5,000 travelers along for global and domestic journeys. Catering to a 100 percent female customer base — and 90 percent of them age 50 and older — Gutsy Women understands female travelers’ needs. With no more than 16 participants per trip (sometimes as few as 8 to 10), the group tours provide an intimate, connected experience.

"Women like to experience destinations with like-minded women to enrich the journey with the camaraderie and networking opportunities they’re exposed to on a women-centered tour," explains April Merenda, co-founder and president of Gutsy Women.

This year, the company is offering “The American West: Cody Yellowstone & Jackson Hole” and “Alaskan Discovery: Denali National Park & the Kenai Fjords.”

"The National Parks trip I took in 2019 with Gutsy Women (allowed me to) share my wonder and excitement of the beauty of parks and animals with others,” says Pat Wilson, a frequent traveler. “It's intoxicating to share experiences like this in a group. We feed off each other and create a fabulous, exhilarating experience."

For older women considering a group tour, Wilson says, "Go for it! You'll not regret one moment. You'll feel safe and secure, plus a sense of camaraderie and a sense of privacy. In women's group tours, we’re cared for, and most of all, pampered."

Tip: Head over to The Ethel On-The-Go Facebook group — a closed Facebook group for older women who love travel — for trip inspiration, insights and tips from other travel lovers.

One final word of advice? "Be a traveler, not a tourist — immerse yourself in a destination to foster connections with those around you," advises Durflinger, president of EF Go Ahead Tours. “Our tours connect people with the history and stories behind a destination and with the people who call those places home."

 
Have you ever traveled with a tour group? If not, would you like to? Where would you want to go? Let us know in the comments below.

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