Like so many things, girls’ trips look a little different these days. What were once beachside vacations chock-full of margaritas and spa treatments have — for many — transformed into a more adventurous and mindful type of getaway. Cocktailing and sunbathing have been replaced by many with bike trips, surf camps, and day-long hiking excursions, all in the name of quality time with your besties, ideally surrounded by nature and fresh air. If the last two years has taught us anything, it’s that being healthy, in the outdoors, and surrounded by our loved ones are paramount to our happiness.
“Research and data continue to show us that time in nature has a positive impact on and shows improvement in cognition, stress levels, attention, and even our capacity to empathize with others,” says Boulder, Colorado-based psychotherapist and consultant Kate Kripke. “When humans have an experience of connection — with ourselves, others, or our environment — our parasympathetic nervous systems turn on, and we quickly have an experience of ease and relaxation. Data shows us that just a few moments in nature can shift a brain from being tired, disconnected, foggy, and depleted to awake and available to experiences that lead us toward health and wellness.”
To wit, travel-expert Gwen Books has seen a change in what clients have been asking of her in recent years, specifically in the realm of women-only trips. “A renewed appreciation for wide-open spaces has inspired my clients to visit National Parks when their usual first instinct would have been a foreign jaunt,” she says. “These women are not normally campers — glamping, maybe — but they are not typical RV travelers. Covid created new healthy habits. Activities like hiking, horseback riding, and dinner under the stars were suddenly integrated into itineraries.”
Perhaps that is also why outfitters like DuVine Bike Tours have seen an uptick in girl power-inspired custom adventures. “It’s no secret to anyone that cycling was a hobby many people took up during Covid,” says Andy Levine, who started his cycling and adventure company, DuVine, 25 years ago. “It was safe to ride outdoors, and you could have a stationary bike — and the company of your Peloton class — at home. Now, people are prioritizing travel, and there is a renewed appreciation for expert-guided travel like ours, which allows guests to show up, disconnect, and live in the moment. Covid showed us all that you can’t put off those experiences you’ve dreamed of.”
According to Books, adventure travel may be more than a passing trend. “The idea of crowding into locations with hundreds of people has lost its appeal,” says Books. “Bonding in a bubble was the Covid norm. That has translated into safe adventure travel with the same bubble.”
Levine agrees that one of takeaways of the pandemic is not only a new appreciation for being active, but also for who you are being active with. “I think the appeal of these kinds of vacations for women lies in carving out time for themselves and each other,” he says. “Everyone’s lives changed during Covid and being with old friends can be grounding. Cycling with the people who know you best is almost a metaphor for life: Maybe you’re riding hard, and it’s helpful knowing they’re pedaling with you. Or maybe you lost track of the miles because you enjoyed having someone to chat with in the saddle. We have often heard that women feel stronger together. They cheer each other on during the climbs. They celebrate their accomplishments.”
Being active with your nearest and dearest by your side can be more than fun and good for your health — it’s great for your mind as well. “Connecting with friends while being outdoors is a double whammy,” says Kripke. “When we share positive experiences with others, we not only change the chemical makeup of our physiology, but we create memories with others that strengthen social connections. One of the most important aspects of health and wellness is having a strong social network. Find your girlfriends, and get outside!”
To get you started, ahead, the ultimate girls’ trips you can (and should) take now.
This cycling and adventure company leads rides both domestic and abroad, catering to all levels, whether you regularly log miles on the road or are a novice to the sport. Options for tours in the U.S. range from Aspen, Colorado, to Maine, California, Maui, Vermont, and Upstate New York. If you’re looking for a little more epic of an adventure, there are also plenty of options in Latin America, Europe, and even as far as Africa.
And if you really want to experience a new place on two wheels but just aren’t sure you’ll be able to do it, E-bikes are an option for that added assist. Regardless of how many breaks you need to take or even if you have to get into the support van (which is always stocked with snacks and drinks), you’ll still be rewarded by great dining experiences — one of the things Duvine’s top-tier tours are known for. And not to worry: Duvine provides the bikes and gear so you don’t have to think about anything but how much fun you’re going to have seeing a new place with your best girls from the vantage point of two wheels.
Another option for two-wheeled adventures: Backroads.
You and your crew can live the Pura Vida at Gilded Iguana — Nosara, Costa Rica’s original surf hotel. The Gilded Iguana is located just steps from one of the country’s best surfing beaches, Playa Guiones, and wave-riders of all levels are welcome to either perfect their skills or learn the basics. The full-service surf school means you may come a novice but you’ll leave feeling like a true surfer. And if you join the property’s Surf Club, you can choose from whatever board floats your boat (pun intended) — from boogie boards to SUP — and you’ll have a place to store it, as well as access to a locker room, changing stalls, and a lounge and juice bar. Joining also means discounts on lessons, food, and even mountain bike rentals if you decide to switch up your sport for a day during your stay.
Another option to Hang 10: Surf Simply
If you’ve been cooped up for a good portion of the last couple years and want to reunite with your best girls in a truly epic way, there is no better option than making your way on foot through the spectacular Italian Dolomites with the aptly named Dolomite Mountains guides. You won’t believe your eyes when hiking through the lush meadows and jagged peaks of Italy’s Dolomite Mountains. The trip can be customized to include short day hikes or multi-day treks, depending on your fitness level and preference. And better yet, you’ll earn all the homemade pasta and pizza you’ll inevitably consume. On the trip, you can literally hike your way from town to town, staying at a mix of hotels and rifugios — essentially on-mountain inns (think: the coziest bed and breakfast you can imagine, but on a mountain) — that are privately owned and known for incredible hospitality and food.
A domestic option for seeing the sites by foot: Wildland Trekking
Skiing with your girls is always fun, but skiing with your girls in France is truly next level. At Steep Skiing Camps, you can sign up for their all-women option to explore the legendary terrain of Chamonix and Verbier — after which you can explore the country’s legendary après-ski scene, which is equally as impressive. The camp price includes your lift tickets, lodging, and even some of your meals, so you can expend all your energy perfecting your turns on the steeps and learning how to safely navigate the backcountry. Taking your trip to new heights (literally), Steep Skiing Camps even takes you heli skiing on this five-day adventure. This camp is obviously not for beginners, but it’s perfect for best friends who live for powder days.
Another way to ski with your sisters: Jackson Hole Elevate Women’s Ski Camp