Reimagining Solo Travel: Insight Vacations Creates New Women-Only Tours

by | Mar 19, 2024

A group of women enjoying the beach on a women-only tour
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Last updated on March 20th, 2024

Featured image: Get ready for adventure with one of Insight Vacation’s new women-only tours | Photo by oneinchpunchphotos on Envato

Small group tours include solo rooms, small groups and women-led experiences

by Carolyn Ray 

In early 2023, Insight Vacations North American President Melissa DaSilva brought her team a challenge. Not only did she want to reimagine Insight’s women-only trips, she wanted to do something different for solo women with solo rooms, meaningful women-led experiences, and safe spaces where women could connect. Ultimately, DaSilva’s goal was to help solo women build confidence to travel the world, particularly women over 50, who make up the majority of Insight’s clients.

DaSilva tapped Claire Hanney, the Managing Director of Travel Experiences at Insight Vacations, for help. Hanney quickly gathered her most experienced team members and started building an entirely new product, just for well-travelled solo women.

“She told me ‘If we’re going to do it, we’re going to need more single rooms than we’ve ever had before,’” recalls Hanney. “Single rooms are almost impossible to get, but Melissa was determined to find a solution.  She also wanted a range of itineraries that would be more appealing to an older, more experienced traveller in a small-group format, with wellness and foodie inclusions and more opportunities for women to meet other inspirational women along the way and learn from each other.”

The result, after almost a year of planning, is 11 new women-only itineraries packaged under Insight Vacations premium guided tour brand in iconic destinations in the US, Europe, India, South America and Africa. Priced for solo women, these small group tours have less than 24 guests and include stays in stylish, handpicked hotels, meals in top-rated restaurants and stress-free travel created for women, by women​.

“Our women-only tours, thoughtfully crafted by women for women, cater to travellers’ unique needs – be it exploring diverse cultures, conquering fears, or forging new friendships,” says Melissa DaSilva, President of Insight Vacations, North America. “Spanning five continents, these carefully curated journeys spare no details with plenty of options for solo travellers. At Insight Vacations, we recognize the significance of listening to women’s voices, and through these women-only trips, we hope to provide exceptional experiences that enable women to explore the world with confidence and curiosity.”

A woman wearing a striking blue burqa strides gracefully past the majestic golden doors of the historic Royal Palace of Fes - Best of Morocco, A Women-only Tour - Insight Vacations

A woman walks past the majestic golden doors of the historic Royal Palace of Fes / Photo provided by Insight Vacations

How the women-only tours evolved

Women-only tours aren’t new for the travel industry or for Insight Vacations.

In October 2022, I had the opportunity to travel on Insight Vacation’s first-ever Women-Only Tour. On that 12-day trip, our small group of 14 women travelled by boat and bus from Venice to Croatia, finishing in Dubrovnik. For many women, it was their first trip in several years, and an opportunity to connect with women who loved travel.

While their existing itineraries were a good starting point, according to Hanney, some of the inspiration for the new trips came from her mother, an experienced traveller.

“At age 65, my mom is widowed and wants to travel with friends,” she says. “I recognized that she’s exactly the type of person that needs a woman-only tour like this, with like-minded women having an absolute ball.”

Another impetus for the change was input from JourneyWoman solo travellers, who were invited to share their travel preferences in a survey in the fall of 2022,  This survey, called “The Influence and Affluence of Women Over 50 in Travel”, was supported by Insight’s sister company Trafalgar Travel (also under DaSilva’s purview). Our results showed that 65% of solo women ​look for tour companies that offer women-only tours or solo trips for women while 43%​ “feel the travel industry ignores solo or older female travellers.”

Clearly, one of the leaders in the travel industry is listening to solo women and we’re all for it.

Connecting with local women

Not only do these tours cater to women’s interests, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites, history, culinary, art and wellness activities, each itinerary also includes an immersive MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience. These inspiring travel experiences encourage travellers not only to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (notably #5: Gender Equality, to empower women and girls), and highlight important local traditions and businesses owned by women.

“In designing these trips, we had to shift our thinking into how we could use tourism money to make a positive impact on the communities we travel through, but still have a wow moment for our guests,” Hanney says. “It was also important that we understand the issues in these regions, and collaborate with them to positively impact their lives and those of the next generation of women.”

For example, guests on the Italy trip will spend time at a women’s weaving cooperative, where age-old traditions are being shared with a new generation of women weavers. In India, women will go to Sheroe’s Cafe in Agra, which is run by women survivors of acid attacks.

Insight Vacations Women-Only tours Banner

My Top Picks forInsight’s New Itineraries

Insight Vacations is a premium brand, where every detail is organized for guests. These experiences are designed for women who don’t want to make a myriad of decisions, other than choosing an optional excursion (or not). Travel directors undergo rigorous training far exceeding industry standards, Hanney says. They also speak the local language, have strong relationships with the community and are empowered to adapt to guests’ needs on the fly.

Announced on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2024, several of the new itineraries are 12-day trips, and are offered at an 8 percent discount if booked by May 31st, 2024. On a $7,000 trip, that’s a savings of about $500. (Please note, prices below are quoted in USD and are accurate as of publication date but may change).

Egypt: Splendours of Egypt (12 days)

May to September 2025 

Egypt is one of the world’s most spiritual and emotional pilgrimages, recommended by our writer Dawn Booker as one of our “30 Places for Women to Visit in 2024.”  Amidst the ruins and relics, there are moments of reflection, prayer, and deep connection in Egypt’s bustling capital city, Cairo, stunning views of the Nile and the Giza Pyramids in the distance. 

The 12-day Splendours of Egypt trip starts and ends in Cairo, with a cruise down the Nile in a felucca (traditional wooden sailing boat), including stops at Edfu and Luxor at the Valley of the Kings. In Aswan, guests will spend time with the locally owned Aswan’s Women Co-operative, whose mission is to support vulnerable women from the local villages to learn new skills and become financially independent.

Prices start at US$6363 (double occupancy) and $7,831 for a solo room.

A castle in Germany seen from a Uniworld River Cruise along the Danube

Caption: On Egypt tour, guests can connect with women who are providing the main source of income for their family at the Aswan Women Co-operative. / Photo provided by Insight Vacations.

Morocco: Best of Morocco Tour (11 days)

May to September 2025

What woman doesn’t want to visit Morocco, with its busy markets, the largest functioning mosque in Africa, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and imperial cities of the Kingdom of Morocco.

The Best of Morocco Tour begins in Casablanca and travels to Rabat, Menkes, Fez, Erfoud, Rissani, Quarzazate and Essaouira. Women can attend a baking class at a women’s cooperative that empowers women to become professional chefs.

Prices start at $5727 (double occupancy) and $6631 for a solo room.

A castle in Germany seen from a Uniworld River Cruise along the Danube

In Morocco, women will stay in the stylish Kasbah Hotel Xaluca Arfoud, Erfoud / Photo provided by Insight Vacations

USA: Country Roads of the Deep South (12 days)

March and September 2025

There’s no better route for music lovers than the Country Roads of the Deep South, which starts in Nashville with stops at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the Grand Ole Opry before heading to Memphis for to stay overnight at Graceland. The 12-day trip includes Cajun and Creole influences and ends in New Orleans. Along the way, women can learn about the women’s civil rights movement including notable figures such as Frances Wright, Ida Be Wells, and the Lee Sisters during the Courageous Women Fighting for Women’s Rights, Civil Rights and Justice for All Tour. The local specialist conducting the tour is also of great importance – Elaine Turner. Elaine Lee Turner has served the Memphis community in various capacities as an educator, civil rights activist, entrepreneur and historian.

Prices start at $8,993 (double occupancy) or $10,825 for single occupancy rooms.

Sun set in Nashville, Tennessee

On this trip, women will stay at The Guest House at Graceland and enjoy the spa and cooking school at the Alluvian Hotel, which has been featured in Southern Living and Architectural Digest. / Photo provided by Insight Vacations

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As the CEO and Editor of JourneyWoman, Carolyn is a passionate advocate for women's travel and living the life of your dreams. She leads JourneyWoman's team of writers and chairs the JourneyWoman Women's Advisory Council and Women's Speaker's Bureau. She has been featured in the New York Times, Toronto Star and Zoomer as a solo travel expert, and speaks at women's travel conferences around the world. In March 2023, she was named one of the most influential women in travel by TravelPulse and was the recipient of a SATW travel writing award in September 2023. She is the chair of the Canadian chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), a member Women's Travel Leaders and a Herald for the Transformational Travel Council (TTC). Sometimes she sleeps. A bit.


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