I know that some women really do head off into the sunset with just a pack an airline ticket, but for those of you who need a little more of a plan, here is my advice…
I wanted to go to Europe. My partner had died and I was on my own. Despite running a Women Travel website, I am not that great at traveling on my own. I find long air flights difficult and painful.
We had run a women’s lodge in New Zealand, and I had lots of contacts of women across the world that had visited us, and invited us to stay.
How could I weave together all those things into the trip of a lifetime?
By Train Across the USA
First step, I made a map of the people I know and wanted to visit. In the USA the list was San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Washington, Florida. Easy decision – I would fly to San Francisco, then Amtrak to New York stopping off along the Way. This saved the extra flying across the continent, and meant I got to see the country and visit friends along the way. Most stretches on Amtrak were 24 hours, Seattle to Chicago was 48 hours – I had my own room.
By day I sat and enjoyed the view. After dinner each night my room was transformed into a bed by the staff. I joined the other travellers for meals (included in the price), so I got to know the others on the journey – mostly people who enjoy slow travel. It was a treat. I had as much company as I wanted and could retreat to my own space any time. I would fall sleep each night to the gentle rock of the train, and wake up to a new vista. I loved it, and would happily do it again.
A cheaper option is to have a seat, rather than a room – heaps more space than a plane, and the seats lie out quite flat.
Second step I made a bucket list of places I wanted to go – on my list was France, Italy, Spain and Morocco. I asked around my friends, and discovered two of them were hiring a car in Spain and Portugal for three weeks, and they invited me to join them. We shared the cost of the car and accommodations – so it was a win-win.
From Granada in the South through Portugal to Santiago and on to Madrid, we explored Moorish landscapes, discovered old Templar towns, and walked some of the Camino. And better still, we are still best friends!
Join a Women’s Tour
I had my dates I was to be away, and I used my own website www.womentravel.info to see if there were any tours for women that would fit in with my trip.
I found a 3 week trip to Morocco with Venus Adventures for Women, and a week Bike and Barge in the South of France with Women’s Holidays. What a treat – two places on the top of my bucket list, and I did not have to organise anything – just pay they money and turn up.
Tip always arrive a day or so before the trip starts if you can – stay in the same hotel the tour begins. It gives you a chance to catch your breath.
Both trips were superb, but very different. Bike and Barge was very restful slow pace down the canal in between frantic bursts of energy getting through locks. All accompanied by some wine and cheese bought as we stopped at villages along the way.
Morocco meant more travel as we traversed the country from Casablanca to Marrakech, with a hike up the Atlas Mountains where we stayed with local families, and a camel ride into the Sahara where we slept under the stars before climbing a hill to see the sun rise. It was amazing – the colour, the music, the food, the shopping, the culture.
Each trip we shared rooms which meant the costs were kept down, we were safe, everything was organised, but never so much that we could not divert a little along the way.
Try a Train – Ask Friends – Join a Women’s Tour
Rosemary Neave lives in Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand and runs a number of websites around women and travel