Adventure Awaits

Women-only travel celebrates a collective experience

Women-only travel groups have grown in popularity in recent years. There always have been the girls’ weekends or the shopping trips, but now, women want to travel the world, and often, they want to do this with like-minded peers.

Photo provided by Kristen Holt Burckhartt. Women journeying with Holt Travel Service enjoy lunch at a country inn in the Provence region of France in October 2022.

During that first, isolating year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kristen Holt Burckhartt, president and owner of Holt Travel Service, was cocooned in her Evansville home with her husband and their pets. Their children were grown and, for the most part, weathering the shutdown on their college campuses or homes. For years, Burckhartt had hosted an annual luxury group trip abroad, taking mostly couples to countries such as South Africa, Morocco, Spain, and England. But now, with nothing but time on her hands and the proverbial empty nest, she began to plot multiple hosted groups during a single year, continuing the luxury tours she had always offered, but opening up more budget-friendly options and groups that were limited to women. In April 2021, she made a Facebook post inviting women to share a villa in the South of France during fall 2022.

Within days, the trip had sold out. The response was immediate, and some of the women asked about options for 2021. They were ready; they wanted to go. Burckhartt then designed an option for a women-only group to Menorca, Spain, for August 2021, with the same quick response.

Who were these women who were so quick to sign up to travel with women they did not know to places they had not been? They were empty nesters, they were young and single, they were widows, or they were retirees. Perhaps, they are women like you.

“I was leery (about) traveling with women that I didn’t know, but a fellowship developed between all of us that is a part of my soul now. It’s been a year and we are still talking and texting and gathering — this loving bond says it all,” says Constance Ferrari of Evansville.

Photo provided by Kristen Holt Burckhartt. This winery in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region of France was a favorite stop on a September 2022 tour of the South of France.

“Traveling with women gave me the opportunity to indulge in activities I enjoy but my boyfriend does not, like spending hours shopping in French flea markets, then gathering by the pool at our villa drinking rosé and talking until the wee hours,” says Seattle, Washington, resident Deana Nelson.

“There’s a particular way most women interact when we are alone together, prioritizing the collective experience over the individual,” says Alison Petrash-Hall of New Albany, Indiana. “Throughout the trip, I felt safe, included, and like my viewpoint and desires mattered as much as anyone else’s in spite of our varied ages and life experiences.”

“Traveling with Kristen on one of her women’s groups gave me an opportunity to spend time with other adventurers outside of my circle of friends. Sharing that experience with new people helped me experience those adventures in a new way,” says Jenn Opie of Boulder, Colorado.

Holt Travel Service’s next women-only group is to southern Italy in April 2024. The trip begins in Rome and finishes in Puglia, a magical region in the heel of the Italian “boot.” A culinary tour with visits to the famed ceramic workshops in the south, Burckhartt and private chef Alice Adams will guide you in the magic of the Italian kitchen. Interested? Contact Burckhartt at or 812-457-9366.

“I am a veteran Holt Travel women’s travel group participant, having ventured to the Spanish island of Menorca, the South of France, and the South of Spain,” says Evansville resident and Evansville Living Publisher and Editor Kristen Tucker. “Initially, the primary attraction for me was the shared villa accommodations, allowing both a luxury of travel and the opportunity to live like a local. After taking three trips, what I most enjoy are the meals shared with diverse groups of women in the beautiful villas and the time spent strolling to small villages.”

Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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