Raise your hand if you need a vacation and you don't have time to plan it. Instead of throwing caution to the wind, consider joining a group trip. The evergrowing trend is not only an effortless option (the itineraries only seem to get better), but it can also result in a meaningful travel experience.
Wild Terrains was founded in 2018 by Lauren Bates after failing to find a group trip that called to her. She was searching for a female-only option that offered a variety of experiences. What she found were themed trips and those centered around a particular age group.
"It frustrated me on a personal level, because I am a more dynamic traveler and I wanted a more dynamic travel experience. Something that incorporated local culture, food, art, design, shopping, and history; and exposed me to a more diverse group of women, not just women like me," Bates told Adore. "It also frustrated me on a broader level, because I believe globally we tend to market to women in a very one- or two-dimensional way that misses the mark on what women are really craving in terms of experiences and connections. Just because you like yoga doesn’t mean you want to do yoga every day on vacation, and just because you’re 70 years old doesn’t mean you want to be on a seniors-only trip."
With her love of travel and a clear vision in tow, Wild Terrains came to life with a debut women-only trip to Mexico City. Not only are the travelers all women, but the restaurants, hotels, and shops visited are female-owned unlike other women-only group tour companies. "If I was going to be bringing groups of women to a destination, I felt a responsibility to support local, women-owned businesses."
There is no age limit (Bates says travelers range from mid-20s to 70s) and they can come with a friend or arrive solo. By limiting the group size to under 12 people, everyone has time to connect and get to know each other. Bates acknowledged that it is more profitable to host larger groups, but has committed to keeping things small as to not hinder the experience.
The method must be working because all of 2019's trips to Mexico City sold out. Wild Terrains launched a second trip to Portugal with the itinerary allowing for stops in Porto, Alentejo, and Lisbon over the course of 8 days. Bates says that choosing a destination is far from rash, as they diligently search for culturally rich places that include a strong community of women.
"We really believe that people, not activities, make an experience memorable, so it’s very important to us that we select the right partners and that we get to know them well before we launch a destination." Such experiences include unique farm-to-table meals, unforgettable museum and gallery visits, and plenty of free time for individual exploration.
Finding female-owned properties has been difficult, but manageable. For instance, female chefs are more common in Mexico City than Portugal. "Lucky for us, female artists, designers, and architects are everywhere," she says. "You just have to be intentional about where you look... I've found that no matter the size of the city, all the creative women know each other."
With a third destination on the horizon, it's hard to deny that Bates has cracked the code to the idyllic group vacation.
"For me, travel is the ultimate teacher. I love the way travel broadens your perspective – you’re exposed to new cultures, places, people, foods and smells. But, I also love what travel teaches you about humanity - no matter how different we seem on the surface, we all are really similar at our core. We all want to be happy, safe, and have a voice - that’s universal."