Travel

Meet the adventurous woman at the helm of AdventureWomen

AdventureWomen excursions have taken travelers whale watching off Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.
Colin Ruggiero
AdventureWomen excursions have taken travelers whale watching off Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.

Judi Wineland is no stranger to the adventure travel industry. In 1978 she launched and operated Overseas Adventure Travel from a tiny “converted bathroom” office in Cambridge. She subsequently cofounded other award-winning travel companies, including Thomson Safaris. Recently, her focus has shifted to women-only travels, leading she and her daughters, Nicole and Erica, to acquire AdventureWomen.

Q. AdventureWomen was founded 35 years ago by your friend and colleague-in-travel Susan Eckert. How are you planning to build on and expand the legacy of what Eckert created?

A. In early 2017, we completed some interesting research with women about what they seek today in a travel experience. What we’ve found is that they are looking for experiences which are even more meaningful, memorable, and transformational. So building on Susan’s legacy, we’re adding “insider access,” “women-to-women” experiences, and a broader range of activities into all our trip itineraries. We’re offering single supplements (private room options) for those who want them. We’re creating some shorter and longer trip lengths, as well as some more-active/less-active itineraries.

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Q. Why women-only travel? And why now?

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A. AdventureWomen was the perfect fit for our strong values: valuing women, protecting the earth, gaining knowledge through education, cherishing friendships, crossing boundaries, and breaking barriers. “Women-only” is so us — it is us. Women love to do lots of things in the company of other women they like, trust, and have fun with.

Q. Tell me about your daughters and how they are involved in the business?

A. Nicole is our director of programming, and she has an extraordinary eye for new and exciting destinations, and really understands how to make each AdventureWomen trip special — be it a meeting with a former female president, or the opportunity to visit a remote school for nuns in the mountains. Erica is our director of communications, and she is not only adept at crafting our message and explaining who we are and what we do, she is a true adventurer and mountaineer who innately knows what women travelers want when it comes to adventure and challenge.

Q. How are you rebranding the company?

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A. We’ve recently launched a brand refresh including a new logo, brand look, positioning statement, and messaging strategy. Our goal is to signal that AdventureWomen is building on our strong foundation but also moving in some new directions. More than just a travel company — we’re really a “relationship” company, inviting women through travel to build new connections with the world, with themselves, and with other like-minded women. Our new tagline says it all. “The destination is just the beginning.”

Q. How would you describe an “Adventure Woman?”

A. Women are complex and don’t tend to enjoy being pigeonholed, so I wouldn’t want to lump “Adventure Women” into a few generic “types.” What unites us is our passion for the world outside of ourselves and outside of our lifestyles — our thirst for new experiences. Our willingness to take risks and reach outside our comfort zones to succeed, ending up feeling triumphant and empowered. Our love of the outdoors and actively engaging with the world around us.

Q. What kind of experiences are women looking for in 2017?

A. We’re actively tracking this through our survey research. Cultural immersion opportunities are very appealing to women — trips which allow our guests to meet and interact with women and community leaders living in our destinations. Culinary experiences are also very popular right now — cooking classes, market tours, tasting events. And of course wildlife trips will always be a favorite. We’re adding learning and educational opportunities, exposure to wildlife protection and habitat preservation projects, and on-trip photography tips.

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Q. What is the average age of the women on your trips? Are your trips aimed at a specific demographic?

A. Women on our trips are typically somewhere between 45 and 65, but many are younger and many are still very active and traveling at 65-plus. We welcome all adult women and multiple generations on our trips as our guests tell us they like traveling with a diverse mix of fellow travelers.

Q. What new trips are you adding to your roster for the upcoming year?

A. We’ve got some exciting new locations launching, including Myanmar, Colombia, Morocco, Finland, Mongolia, Bay of Fundy, Japan, and Bhutan — to name just a few. But the real excitement is in the itineraries. We’ve carefully selected some truly amazing “experiences within the experience” in these fascinating places.

Q. How many women are typically on a trip?

A. We very deliberately keep our groups small to deepen the connections between the women traveling together and to keep our travel experiences more intimate and special. Our trips tend to have between eight and 14 guests, some smaller, some larger.

Q. What are upcoming “hot” destinations?

A. Based on our survey in January: Thailand, Morocco, Greece, Ireland, Ecuador, Alaska, and New Zealand.

Necee Regis can be reached at neceeregis@gmail.com.