travel with other women

TravelCircles: Traveling with a Group of Women

I love travel. And I love women. So several years ago I decide to combine those two things into TravelCircles!  And it's been magical!  :) Each year, I pick 1-2 countries to visit (this year we have Peru in June 2018 and New Zealand in January 2019! And I'm already starting to think about where to go in the fall of 2019! Yahoo!) and I open it up for anywhere between 6-12 women to join me. 

For someone who LOVES bringing people together and helping facilitate connection, conversation, and laughter-- these trips-- whether to Cuba, Greece, Nicaragua, or Rwanda--have been such a delight. Every time. It's truly amazing that a group of strangers can come together and have such a memorable time!  But instead of taking my word for it... 

We're celebrating in RWANDA that we all met each other on a trip to GREECE several years ago and have made amazing memories together in various countries since then!  From left to right: Miriam, Courtney, Shasta, and Angie.

We're celebrating in RWANDA that we all met each other on a trip to GREECE several years ago and have made amazing memories together in various countries since then!  From left to right: Miriam, Courtney, Shasta, and Angie.

As a group of us were traveling through Rwanda together this last summer, we realized three of the women had each been on three TravelCircles-- Miriam (age 60) from California, Courtney (age 33) from Maryland, and Angie (age 47) from Iowa! So, of course we had to take a photo!  And I had lots of questions for them!

THREE trips already!?!?!  And you're all signed up for a 4th trip this year! What inspires you to keep signing up for TravelCircles?

Miriam: I keep signing up for them because the trips are so well planned, involve much more than sightseeing and I feel safe traveling with a group that takes my wants and needs seriously. 
I have a passion for learning about people from around the world. Learning about religions, cultures, history, food and beautiful places. And this is all covered in these trips. The itinerary is active, busy, well balanced, fun and beautiful exposures to the places I have never seen before.
Finally, connecting with the women from my own country, getting to know them and share in such wonderful adventures is priceless. 

Courtney: I keep signing up because I've wanted to travel internationally but have lacked travel buddies and the know-how to plan all the details and get the most out of these locations. Also it's been an excellent way for me to expand my comfort zone and safely travel to places I never expected to go. These groups are special because of the unique experiences I never could've done on my own, like Making halva in the middle of the street in Ithaca with two Greek women that didn't speak English, or learning an African dance outside an art gallery with Rwandan kids laughing at us! These are fun experiences I'll never forget and likely very few people will get to have.

Angie: I'm thrilled that I found TravelCircles, I do believe that what really makes these trips so special and unique is the travel partner that TravelCircles uses to plan these adventures.  AltruVistas focuses on locally owned hotels, restaurants, and sightseeing partners.  They also make sure we meet local people and agencies. Depending on the country we are visiting we've met with people to discuss local farming practices, cooking lessons, immigration policies and women's rights.  Ive learned a lot and met people that I never would have met had I traveled on my own.

When you first signed up-- you didn't know anyone else who was coming. What advice do you have for our first-timers?

Miriam: That’s part of the adventure! We are all a little nervous at first but we end up friends. An experience like travel forms a very special bond. If you take responsibility for expressing your needs and keep an open mind and a spirit of tolerance and compassion, you have nothing to fear. And having a person in charge, moderating our interactions is also a strength about these trips. Shasta is on top of things all the time, so I don’t have to ...(lol)

Courtney:  I'm introverted and before I did my first TravelCircle to Greece, I was extremely nervous about not fitting in and not getting enough alone time. Much to my surprise, for the most part I really enjoyed hanging out with the other women, and if I needed a break, it was usually easy to opt-out for an evening or whatever I needed. I'm also not adventurous when it comes to food, but I was always able to make it work. Try a few bites of something, then order what makes you feel more comfortable. 

Angie: Even though you may bond easier with one person than another, we don't let that prevent us from getting to know the others. We all make an effort to spend time with each traveler, sitting with different people in the van or at restaurants etc. and really feel like one group rather than separate little cliques traveling together.  We all have always tried to help each other out, whether it's borrowing something or all of us trying to find a particular item someone needs.

Courtney: To that point, ask for what you need. Always. I freaked out a couple weeks before going to Rwanda and sent a panicked email to Shasta and Malia and they both responded with care and love and compassion. If you don't feel well, if you're uncomfortable with something, if you need a break from the group, if you really need to see something specific in-country, just tell someone. No one can help you if you keep your needs to yourself. And everyone will want to help and support you any way they can. 

So what country will I see each of you in next? :)

Courtney: Peru!  I'm most excited about Machu Picchu and the paragliding option. Oh, and the weekend in the Amazon.

Angie: Peru for me, too! In fact, it's funny because Courtney and I have become good friends through these trips but we've never even see each other in our own country. And I'm probably old enough to be her mom (ha!) but I absolutely love her and am so glad we met in Greece!

Miriam: New Zealand for me.  I've always wanted go there!  I am so grateful for the opportunity to be part of these trips. I would never be able to have these experiences on my own. My world has become much bigger and yet I feel much closer to women across the ocean and in other countries because I have seen how much we have in common and how interesting our differences can be. I’ve learned so much and I hope to continue to be able to participate in many more adventures. 

Well I can say it has been such a joy to travel with all of you.  And we've together made some amazing memories and met such inspiring women along the way! See you abroad! xoxo

And if you want to join us: you can always see our upcoming trips here or leave your name to be notified when new trips are added!

What does traveling to Afghanistan have to do with friendships?

travel quotes
travel quotes

 "Why are you planning all these travel trips?" I'm often asked by people who seem perplexed what a friendship author and speaker is doing planning trips. :)

My short answer:  Anyone who cares about friendship has to care about personal growth and the moments in life that can bring us together. Travel does both: it bonds us and grows us.  There are few things more bonding and growing than leaving our comfort zones together.

I also think it's downright magical to be going on trips together where we are intentionally learning about our sisters in other countries.  There are few things in this world more beautiful than having moments of resonance with women who don't even speak the same language as we do.  Everywhere we go we're doing it with eyes that look with our hearts to better understand the life and voice of women in that place.

Then, the next question is usually, "But why Afghanistan?"

For that, I asked Kathy, the trip ambassador who will be leading a small group of women (ideally 6 women-- we have room for 2 more!) into this country to share with us why she's so passionate.  Just reading her response makes me want to go on this once-in-a-lifetime trip!

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By Kathy:"I have been asked many times, “Why do you want to go to Afghanistan?” always followed immediately by, “Aren’t you afraid?” The answers to both those questions are complex.

I had never before been interested in going to the Middle East in my life, and I believe a part of my draw is that it is a country that has been living just under my radar for more than a decade. A country who’s name I have heard a million times. I want to experience the people and culture of this land where so many men and woman have fought and died for. I know from talking to people whom have been there that the people of Afghanistan are warm and kind and that it is a beautiful country. One soldier told me he wished he could go back as a tourist because of its beauty. Another told me he feels frustrated with how many Americans view the Afghani people because they are not just everything the news reports on. The problems in Afghanistan are complex, but they do not define the people or tell the whole story of the country!    

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My experience in Iran last year was so amazing that it fanned the flame of my desire to experience Afghanistan. The rich history and the culture of the area is far from anything most Americans can begin to understand. And this is what makes it a fascinating place for me to want to experience. It was fun and interesting to dress as was required of us, with head coverings and in modest clothes. It was exciting learning words in a completely foreign language, one you don’t get to learn in school. I was honored to be a part of bridging the gap between two cultures who have a tenuous history, and humbled to meet people as fellow human beings with no prejudice and rather a sense of curiosity, wonder, and awe. I loved the people as much as anything else. I am expecting similar feelings and experiences in Afghanistan.

travel quote: THe world is a book and those who not travel read only one page.
travel quote: THe world is a book and those who not travel read only one page.

Am I scared? Cautious is a better word. I closely follow the news from Afghanistan and after the April 5th elections felt tremendous hope. The Afghan elections were a major victory with almost seven million voters - 36 percent of them women - coming out to say a loud "no" to the terror of the Taliban, and a clear "yes" to the ballot box. I know from my experience in Iran that our guide and driver were very protective of us and would have done anything to keep us safe. I know the same will be true in Afghanistan. Safety will come before anything else.  (Our travel agency has been sending trips there all year...and is always making decisions with safety as the highest priority!)

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I listened to a webinar today by Naomi Simson who talked about “The 2% mindset” where only 2% of the population lives outside their comfort zone by acting in spite of fear, exploring new things, embracing the unknown, going for their dreams, and living without limits. I want to be part of the 2%.

I don't think it's a coincidence that a woman who is willing to go outside her comfort zone in traveling is also the woman who is ready to cheer lead all of us into new friendships and adventures, even in our own cities.  Kathy also happens to be the Ambassador Director for GirlFriendCircles.com, a job she does on the side of her nursing career because she knows that we also have to go outside our comfort zone to build the friendships that enrich our lives.

So in answer to the question, "What does traveling to Afghanistan have to do with friendships?" The answer is multi-faceted!  Going on this trip will give you the opportunity to make friends yourself, to meet your sisters from another country, and because it will expand you and give you more courage in your own friend-making process back home!  I'm in favor of all of that!  :)

Whether Kathy has piqued your interest in joining her in Afghanistan, or whether we've just whet your appetite for travel, in general-- we hope you know that if you're a woman who is open to some adventure and ready to do it in the circle of other women-- you're welcome on any of our trips!

And even if you don't travel with us, I'd love to hear how travel has enriched your life!  Where have you gone and how did it change you? Have you traveled with friends before? Have you traveled with strangers and felt bonded by the adventures? How have you seen your worldview grow? Tell me!

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Other Planned Travel Trips for Women Only:

  • Nicaragua-- is one of our most affordable trips and it's the next one on the docket!  This trip is eco-tourism at it's best; filled with hikes, volcanoes, waterfalls, small towns, good food, and lots of things to help your body exhale from stress.  Come be invigorated with amazing women around you! (optional surfing lessons!)
  • Greece-- I'm leading this trip, you're welcome to join us through all the magical places of this beautiful country.
  • Afghanistan-- you read about it above.  If you have questions, let us know!
  • Chile & Argentina-- 2 countries and lots of culture, food, and wine!
  • Cuba-- Our 3rd and last planned trip to this country-- join us now if you're interested because it's a super special place to visit right now.

All trips, dates, itineraries, and prices are available here: www.WomensTravelCircles.com