Original article at www.gonomad.com
In recent years, gyms exclusively for women have flourished across the country. Women-only book clubs, dance lessons and support groups are just a few of the other ways women can bond with one another. One of the newest and most important women-only developments is travel groups exclusively for women.
Women can now find other adventurous women to travel anywhere from Costa Rica to China and from the Yukon to the Bahamas. Tour groups have sprung up around the globe to provide a venue for women to come together to travel. Yukon Women’s Expeditions is one such company that takes women deep into the heart of the Yukon.
Yukon Women’s Expeditions is based in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. The women-only travel business provides wilderness adventure tours and outdoor education to women interested in exploring the natural beauty of the Yukon.
Novices can learn to paddle a canoe, and experts can kayak down raging rapids on a number of tour options that include hiking, snowshoeing, skiing and biking, all solely in the company of women.
All these adventurous activities can be undertaken in a relaxed atmosphere, in complete safety, with the guidance of staff members who are fully trained in all aspects of wilderness travel.
Tami Hamilton, a guide for Yukon Women’s Expeditions, has discovered a few reasons why women have embraced this optional segregation in vacationing and in outdoor activities.
In her two years as a guide exclusively for groups of women she has found, “Women-only travel lets a woman be more herself. It breaks down gender barriers, and makes it so that there are the same expectations for the whole group, instead of women and men having separate expectations. It really builds self esteem, even in confident women.”
Denise Schneider has been apprenticing with Hamilton for the past four years. She has hiked the challenging Chilkoot Trail three times, and skied hundreds of kilometers. “Denise is highly organized and efficient,” Hamilton says. “She keeps us all on track! Her fun-loving nature keeps everyone in high spirits.”
Those who have taken trips with YWE agree. “I recently attended a four-day ski trip into Kluane with Tami and Denise,” says Linda Dubrick, “and I cannot tell you how impressed I was by their knowledge, professionalism and organization. Every day just flowed. The food was great. The area was beautiful. The things I learned… unbelievable! I always felt safe and there was never a time (even when the weather was horrible!) that I wasn’t having fun! Thanks girls, I’ll be back for sure!”
Although times are changing, many women grew up in a time where girl scouts learned to sew while their male counterparts learned all the necessities of camping out and the skills needed in the great outdoors. This explains why women reach out to tour groups like Yukon Women’s Expeditions. Without the pressure of having to break gender stereotypes, women can simply be themselves and enjoy the beauty of the wilderness. Whether they are experienced paddlers or newcomers to the great outdoors, women may be able to find greater comfort and freedom together than in mixed-gender groups.
Donna Luick, who joined an eight-day sea kayking trip on Atlin Lake last spring with Yukon Women’s Expeditions, said, “I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed my time with YWE. The new friends I’ve made, skills I’ve learned and discoveries about myself… I never could have imagined. YWE changed my life, for the better!”
The impact of the trip on Luick has even been noticed by her friends and family. “My husband just bought me a global positioning system for my birthday (still learning to use it) and I got a sea kayak for Christmas!” Luick said.
Yvonee James, who took the Teslin River trip, says, “I have found no better way on the planet to reconnect, calm the inner soul and become centered again than to be out on the land having fun with a bunch of women just like me! No pressure, no commitments just my paddle, the canoe, the water, some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen, and fresh Yukon air… it’s fantastic!”
Women-only travel also allows women to create strong bonds with other women. After three, seven or even ten days alone in the wilderness with a group of women, friendships will quickly solidify.
Hamilton believes the arctic is a place everyone should visit. “It’s a real cliché but there is magic and mystery in the Yukon. It’s diverse in what we can offer. It’s a playground. A gem of a natural beauty. People just have to come. There are clear skies with wonderful stars, a night sky with a full moon, stars and the northern lights.”
Experiencing nights such as these after days of learning new canoeing or hiking skills is the perfect way to build lifelong friendships. There is no television or internet to distract. Entertainment is derived from the landscape and one other’s company.
Mothers and Daughters Traveling Together
Another facet of women’s only travel is the emergence of mother-daughter trips. Yukon Women’s Expeditions has offered many such trips, and find them to be incredibly successful.
Hamilton says, “They grow in popularity. We’ve had some really positive feedback from both mothers and daughters. They grow a stronger bond and learn more about each other. It’s something that not every mother and daughter gets to do, so it sticks in the memory and is very special.”
A trip like this could be the best way to reconnect with your mother or spend some time with a daughter. These tours also accommodate multiple daughters, as well as children over the age of six for younger mother-daughter groups. All of the women in a family can climb through the Yukon together.
Anne and Hillary Westbroke took the Westbroke-Atlin Lake sea kayaking/hiking combination. “My daughter and I never had so much fun!” Anne says. “We know each other so much better now, our relationship is not at all like it used to be. There is respect, trust and a deep love. She’s my best friend. The Yukon trip changed our lives and we are forever grateful.”