SOURCE: Grand Circle Corporation

February 23, 2012 05:00 ET

Is It Time for an Adventure?

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Feb 23, 2012) - (Family Features) -- Women are on the move -- especially women of the Baby Boomer generation.

If you've felt the urge to see different places and experience a new adventure, you're not alone. The Travel Industry Association estimates that 32 million single American women traveled at least once last year -- and a lot of them were Boomers.

"I'm in my early sixties, and in the last year, I traveled thousands of miles -- with my husband and children, with girlfriends and alone," says Harriet Lewis, Vice Chairman of Grand Circle Corporation. The company specializes in international travel and adventure for Americans aged 50 or older.

Lewis says that travel can make a difference in our lives as individuals, and in the lives of those we come in contact with.

"During a recent trip to Egypt, I climbed Mount Sinai late at night in order to see the sunrise. The experience changed my life," says Lewis. "The Middle East was an area of the world I had explored before, but not in such depth, and spending time with people in Syria, Jordan, Israel and the Sudan in the past year has shifted my worldview. Travel changes us. It makes us more curious, more thoughtful, more tuned in to our world."

Lewis advises other women who are considering traveling to ask themselves some questions as part of their preparation:

  • What do you want to gain from your travel experience: Adventure? Culture? Relaxation? Inspiration?
  • Which destinations, countries or regions interest you most? Make a list, put them in order, and outline the steps you need to take to make your "bucket list" a reality. Do you need to schedule vacation time or start saving?
  • Do you want to travel with friends, family, or go it alone? Do want to make your own travel plans or go with a tour operator that will handle the planning for you?
  • If you choose a tour operator, consider the size of the groups (the smaller the better), your cost per day and what you are getting for your dollar. Are the guides local, knowledgeable, and able to connect you with local homes, schools and communities so that you get a real taste of local life?
  • If you are traveling with a tour as a solo traveler (popular among women these days regardless of marital status), ask what the company offers solo travelers in terms of making them feel comfortable. Will they help match you with a roommate of the same gender? How will they break the ice? What do they do when it comes to meal times to ensure that solos have partners or friends to eat with?
  • How can you get the best value for your dollar? Compare what a tour operator can offer you vs. what you can find on your own. Can you use your airline miles to save costs? If you choose a tour, are the single supplement fees free or reasonable? Are there certain times of the year where costs are lower based on seasonality?

Lewis believes that taking the time to ask these key questions will ultimately give you a much more fulfilling experience.

"Travel is the best way I know to enhance your life," she says. "I really believe what Mary Anne Radmacher said about travel is true for women: 'I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.'"

Dream Destinations
The style of travel you choose is just as important as your destination.

  • River and small ship cruises currently top many travelers' wish lists. They allow you to unpack once and enjoy a leisurely pace, while your small ship can access ports that larger ships cannot, opening up small cities, towns, and villages for you to explore. Most popular for 2012 are river cruises in Europe and Russia, and small ship Mediterranean cruises.
  • Meeting local people and experiencing local cultures are very important to travelers, especially women. Connecting with people in their homes, schools and communities is much easier to do when traveling in small groups, which is why small group adventures are another extremely popular way for women to travel today. Top destinations include Burma, Botswana, India, Turkey, Kenya, Tanzania, Peru and Costa Rica.

To learn more and start planning, please visit www.gct.com and www.oattravel.com.

Tips for the Savvy Female Traveler
Lewis has compiled a host of travel tips gleaned from her lifetime of travel and from the many women who have taken trips with Grand Circle over the years. "Women with a passion for travel are resourceful -- I'm always amazed by their expertise and ingenuity."

To share this wealth of knowledge, she put together the book "101 Tips for Women Travelers," which is full of practical advice on making the most of your journey. Here are five key tips:

  • Prepare two essential lists -- for packing and for medical emergencies. Make an itemized list of everything in your checked luggage. Carry it in your purse. If your luggage gets lost, you can quickly reconstruct the information for the airline and insurance company. The other list should cite all your medications, what they're for, the name and phone number of your doctor, and prescription numbers.
  • Minimize what you pack. A good rule of thumb is to pack one outfit for every three days of travel. If you're not planning on wearing something at least three times, leave it out.
  • Stay healthy with sleep and hydration. You can bring an inflatable or down pillow to give you added comfort for sleeping. If tap water is unsafe, try a portable water filter or a collapsible water bottle that can be refilled from a clean source.
  • Bring gear that serves more than one function. Dental floss can be used to repair jewelry or hang laundry. Duct tape holds suitcases together, repairs eyeglasses or cameras, and can serve as a bandage in an emergency. Wrap duct tape around a pencil to a one quarter inch diameter, so you don't have to bring a whole roll.
  • Carry a purse, not a satchel. Some museums have size restrictions on purses allowed, so make sure yours is no larger than 8 x 11 inches.

To get your free copy of "101 Tips for Women Travelers," call 1-800-248-3737, or visit http://www.oattravel.com/Community/Harriets-Corner/Special-Pages/101-Tips.aspx.

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