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"Women-centric international getaways"

Travelling can be a metaphorical journey of self-discovery and an expansion of one’s horizons.

It can also be a time of connection, joy, friendship and cultural awareness. Broad Escapes has created a fertile environment where all these meaningful experiences can happen.

A clever name for women-only travel groups, Broad Escapes was formed a few years ago as a partnership between Ellison Travel and Tours and guide Bonnie Hinschberger. “One of Bonnie’s slogans is that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey,” says Cathy Ellison of Ellison Travel. “It’s a way for (women) to re-connect with themselves.”

Ellison says Broad Escapes was borne out of a need for women to be able to travel on their own in a safe environment. “Sometimes they want to see parts of the world that their partner or husband doesn’t,” Ellison says, or they may be single or divorced women wanting to get away. “It is empowering to be able to travel on your own. Women come away with new friends, too. It’s certainly a bonding experience.”

A variety of trips are offered in 2019 including Flutes, Fiddles and Irish Fun, Experience Japan and Uganda Gorilla Trekking and Safari. In 2020, a trip to Nepal and Bhutan is planned, with a journey through the Himalayas. They sell out fast, Ellison notes.

The gorilla trekking trip provides a remarkable opportunity, she says. “You are seeing (the gorillas) in their natural habitat. You are given a lot of instruction about how to behave around them.”

She says cultural awareness is also a big part of what Broad Escapes offers, meaning the women get to meet other females in the country they are touring. “If they are in Africa, they might visit a village where the women make crafts or goods they sell. Women have more of an interest in connecting with other women and seeing how they live and how they support themselves.”

For some travellers, Broad Escapes is a way to connect with people who have a common interest, yet with no pressure. “If you wanted to be on your own and be reflective, you could be. There are no demands on you to be overly social,” says Ellison. “Sometimes travelling with friends and family, you have a commitment to socialize on a different level.”

But, Ellison says, if you do want to travel with family or a group of people you know, Broad Escapes will customize a private tour for your group. “It could be a family heritage trip, looking at your roots or a yoga retreat or wine tasting trip.”

Ellison says the testimonials they receive prove Broad Escapes has been a welcome way for women to travel. “Within our group there were women with a variety of life experiences and it was interesting to observe people spreading their wings and trying new and different things,” Judith M. says.

“The camaraderie of our group allowed us to laugh together, cry together, and take away many ‘remember when’ moments,” says Karen B.