Top Ten Girlfriend Getaways

Founder of women's travel website Chickable, Maria Salvaggio picks her favorite types of trips for chicks and offers a specific destination for each.
By Maria Salvaggio
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Women jumping on beach
CHICK ESCAPE: Plan a girlfriends-only trip and flee the everyday stress  (Kraig Scarbinsky/Digital Vision/Getty)

Ever dreamed of becoming a surf goddess on a faraway beach, sampling exquisite wines at an all-inclusive pajama party with a group of your closest girlfriends, or unleashing your altruistic, superwoman self with a team of volunteers in a destination you've never visited? It's an excellent time for a woman to act on her wanderlust. The number of destinations offering women's travel packages has increased dramatically in recent years, luring groups of girlfriends with trips to the beach, relaxing spa vacations, cruises, and other unique adventures for a weekend or an extended vacation. As this form of travel continues to go mainstream, a wider range of women-focused travel options continues to pop up including culinary adventures, career sampling, unique outdoor activities, or local escapes from the day-to-day reality. Plus, many of these options allow the solo femme traveller to connect with like-minded women and make new friends. Here are my top ten picks for girlfriend getaways:

10) Volunteer Vacations
Travel operators provide volunteer vacations for people with any amount of experience with a cause. These travel packages cater to the increasing number of women traveling on their own and offer an excellent way to meet other ladies with common passions and interests. The Global Citizens Network sends teams of volunteers (mostly women) to communities in other cultures to help develop creative and effective local solutions to global problems. One such trip is to Marituba do Peixe in Northeastern Brazil, where an exploratory trip is organized for volunteers to determine the feasibility of future Global Citizens Network projects. The women of Marituba do Peixe have a long history of weaving palm fronds into bags, mats, and hats, which they sell to other communities. For two weeks volunteers facilitate commerce and optimize this group's earning potential. However, the true rewards and progress come from the cross-cultural learning that occurs while spending time getting to know the local community and developing friendships. A note to the solo traveler: You won't be alone, as many of your team members will be in a similar situation.
Volunteer Vacations Travel Guide

9) Culinary Vacations
Currently one of the most popular niches in the tourism industry, culinary vacations provide the opportunity for a tantalizing respite that intertwines the pleasures of food, drink, and travel. It's the perfect escape for women who love to cook or just love to eat, and it's one you can do with friends or on a mother-daughter adventure. The Tides in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo has been described by women travelers as the ultimate cuisine adventure. The menu is organized into three phases: In the morning you meet your chef-host at the hotel lobby and travel to the town market to see and learn the Spanish names of various herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables while shopping for the ingredients of a delicious Mexican meal. That afternoon, with the beach as backdrop, you'll learn to prepare a special dish. Early in the evening the resort's Tequila Maestro will dazzle you with a lesson that includes a variety of Sangritas to balance the savage with the soothing. It all takes place among breathtaking jungle, lagoon, waterfall, and ocean views. You can even swim with the dolphins—just remember to wait a half hour after devouring your masterpiece.

8) A New Career…for a Day or Two
I think it's safe to say that most of us have had the desire to try an entirely different career from the one we practice daily. A new twist in travel is the "productive vacation," where the intent is to better oneself, not just relax and have fun. One such option is job sampling—test driving a new career without quitting your current one. Vocation Vacations offers more than 125 unique careers through almost 300 expert mentors. Become an L.A. fashion designer for two days, during which time you'll get a glimpse at what it takes to create marketable fashion, from conception to mass production, under the watchful eye of designer Barbara Lesser, owner of Barbara Lesser Fibers in Los Angeles. A veteran in the fashion industry, Lesser earned her BFA in Fashion Design from New York's Pratt Institute and had a long career with several prominent designers, including Esprit, before starting two design firms. She'll keep you busy learning the ropes during the day, but the evenings are your own for exploring the city. Stay at the Kyoto Grand Hotel and Gardens, a soothing urban oasis within walking distance to a wide variety of L.A. attractions and dining options.
Los Angeles Travel Guide

7) Cruises
Erase that image of the Love Boat from your mind! Picture this instead: You and your girlfriends rent or charter a sailboat or motor yacht and travel to various coastal or island destinations. Not all cruises include knee-high socks, sparkly dresses, and cheesy love scenes. Located south of Cuba and west of Jamaica, the Cayman Islands are particularly well-known in yachting circles—the perfect place for you and your girlfriends to explore that curiosity for cruising. There are plenty of charters to accommodate you, including the Yacht Charter Club, with an experienced crew and vast fleet; or you can search for your own charter at the Yacht Charter Guide. In addition, the waters off of the Cayman Islands are among the best places in the world for snorkeling and scuba diving. While in the Caymans there is but one place to lay anchor: the Ritz Carlton. Girlfriends have described this exclusive oceanfront hotel as a paradise of supreme relaxation and luxury. And if you are looking for action after sunset, the Ritz Carlton's lobby bars are the place to be on Friday night.
Cayman Islands Beach Travel Guide

Published: 5 Jan 2009 | Last Updated: 3 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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