Are you looking for a fun adventure and want to travel exclusively with women who share your passion for new and exciting destinations? Well Adventure Women May just be what you are looking for. We had an awesome time talking to Heather Heverling, the President of AdventureWomen, a Travel + Leisure Magazine 2022 World’s Best Tour Operator selectee. With over 50 trips to more than 65 countries, they have something for you. In fact, we’re excited for AdventureWomen’s trek to Everest Base Camp, coming up April 15-30! We highly recommend this incredible opportunity to get out there with the best. Thanks, Heather, for taking the time to talk with us. Jam Jam!!
MM: Tell us about the beginning of AdventureWomen, and the need you saw for an all women traveling experience.
HH: AdventureWomen has been a leader in women’s adventure travel for 40 years. Developed by women and for women, we were founded in 1982 by travel pioneer Susan Eckert. In 2016, Judi Wineland and her two daughters, Nicole and Erica, purchased the company and have since made it their focus to ensure the spirit of AdventureWomen continues forward. We know from experience that adventure travel within women-only small groups creates an extraordinary experience. The camaraderie shared while traveling with women creates an environment for our guests to try new experiences and support each other during exhilarating activities. It’s these safe and supportive spaces that create opportunities for life-changing moments and empowering experiences.
Travel + Leisure recognized our leadership in women’s adventure travel naming AdventureWomen as a 2022 World’s Best Tour Operator, and Condé Nast Traveler’s readers voted AdventureWomen as one of their Top 20 Best Travel Specialists in the World in 2021 and 2022.
MM: Have you seen the travel world open up to women in recent years? Is there much of a difference from the beginning to today?
HH: Now, more and more women want to explore the globe and experience diverse cultures in a unique and meaningful way. When COVID-19 started to subside, adventure travel exploded, and the demand has only increased as women are determined to embrace and explore the world in a big way.
We see a rise in solo travel. (Nearly 70% of travelers who join AdventureWomen trips travel solo). More women are traveling on their own, or with friends, outside of their partners and families.
There is also a growing interest in multi-generational travel, as women are traveling with their daughters, granddaughters, aunts and cousins. AdventureWomen offers Mother-Daughter trips each year, with recent trips to Iceland, Costa Rica, and Baja where mothers marveled at watching their daughters pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone and tackling physically demanding activities head on!
MM: Tell us where you travel to. How did you choose these destinations?
HH: We currently offer nearly 50 trips, traveling to more than 65 countries around the world, and we are watching our footprint continue to expand to even more off-the-beaten-path geographies as we grow. In addition to constantly scouting and creating new trips, we listen to our guests’ dreams and feedback. We recently launched an Antarctica adventure knowing how many of our guests want to experience the unique wildlife, glaciology, and geology of the polar region.
MM: Can you tell us a bit about your guides and trip leaders?
HH: While we work with a wide array of expert local guides and trip leaders, what sets us apart from other companies are our Ambassadors! Each adventure is accompanied by one of our enthusiastic and knowledgeable AdventureWomen Ambassadors. Each Ambassador is chosen for her exceptional leadership abilities and abundant love for travel. Her continuous work facilitating connections among guests and between the guests and local women we meet along the way transforms each ‘trip’ into a memorable experience. During the trip, Ambassadors work closely with our local guides to make each trip exceptional.
MM: How about a little about you? What’s your story?
HH: I have had the extreme good fortune to have spent my entire professional career in the travel industry. My passion is creating transformative travel experiences centered around adventure and exploration that also provide an opportunity to challenge by choice. There is a unique dynamic that happens when a group made up of only women travels together, as the support, strength and connection create a safe space to try new things and achieve new heights – individually and together. AdventureWomen empowers women to push their boundaries, and I am so proud to be part of that mission and this organization.
MM: Have you seen issues such as the changing climates affect your trips?
HH: Weather is always a factor in adventure travel. In addition to offering packing guidelines for each destination, we highly encourage our guests to think about how they like to travel and check the weather before leaving. As climate change increases, weather extremes – including heat waves in Europe or flooding in Yellowstone, are becoming more common. The key is to be prepared and be ready to embrace change during travel for the best experience. Our guests know how to keep the adventure in AdventureWomen!
MM: How large are your groups?
HH: On average, our signature small groups consist of around 12 – 15 women, which includes an AdventureWomen Ambassador and provides a safe setting in which one can feel independent, but at the same time, have like-minded women to travel with and share meals, stories, and experiences.
MM: Tell us about a spectacular or unique trip experience.
HH: The question of a spectacular or unique trip experience is a little tricky to answer! By definition, each one of our adventures pivots around an experience that is magnificent, awe-inspiring, or rare. Witnessing the northern lights in a chilly February night sky, summiting Mt Kilimanjaro after months of training, or feeling like time stops when in the presence of a silverback gorilla. In a way, spectacular or unique is…what we do daily.
To provide a unique perspective on seeing the world, we have woven a connection with a local woman into our adventures, all of which have become some of our most cherished moments of a true “insider experience”. Through these women-to-women exchanges, our guests see the world through the eyes of women who live within vastly different cultures, lifestyles, and belief systems. Our guests have had the honor to have honest and inquisitive conversations with Maasai women in Tanzania about childbirth, and other guests have hiked alongside a Japanese priestess as she guides them through the stillness of the Kumano Kodo. Yet others have sat on woven blankets in conversation while learning about the local herbs grown by a young mother off the paths in Peru. In these moments, we recognize that though our worlds seem vastly different, we find our hearts and aspirations are very alike. These beautiful, intimate moments make our adventures beyond spectacular.
MM: If you had to pick a travel destination for a new young traveler, in good shape and ready to get out there, what would you suggest? And what would you say to an older, slower and a bit inexperienced traveler who wants to see something cool and exciting?
HH: In our Adventure Women community, age is irrelevant. Embracing an empowering adventure is about a state of mind and knowing your physical goals. We have many guests in their seventies trying snowmobiling or canyoneering, and 40-year-olds training for their first treks. Perennial favorites range from experiencing the Galapagos Islands by a private yacht, exploring enchanting castles and cobblestone paths of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, and Iceland – where we offer a chance to view the northern lights in the winter.
To fulfill our guests’ wanderlust, we have remote, off-the-beaten-path adventures to India, Mongolia, and Oman, where women get a taste of what makes each of these vibrant countries so incredible. For those who really want to push their limits physically, we offer a diverse selection of trips to get the heart rate up. From trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, to lodge-to-lodge trekking in the mountains of Peru, we have something for every woman who wants to challenge themselves on an active adventure.
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