Midlife can be like a gentle hand on the shoulder, putting a hard stop on past travel flirtations. The categories of what’s important and how to achieve it have undergone seismic shifts, right? Here are six travel goals and corresponding destinations that will resonate with midlife women, intent on redefining adventure and growing in more nuanced, creative ways.
Have you never ever vacationed with friends? Psychologist and travel journalist Irene S. Levine says that having the luxury of uninterrupted time with girlfriends — away from spouses/partners, parents and kids — allows women to relax, recharge and engage in intimate conversations without the usual day-to-day pressures of multitasking or being rushed. “I’ve also found that girlfriend getaways offer the chance to learn new ways of being and coping from people I respect and admire,” she says.
- Destination: Levine is a fan of the lux The Breakers Palm Beach because it offers so many appealing options for women of all ages. She says you and your BFFs can share a cabana and relax on the beach or at the pools, get pampered at the spa, join classes or work out at the oceanfront fitness center, or play golf or tennis on the grounds. Shopaholics can hit nearby Worth Avenue, she adds.
Midlife is a stretching season — and let’s face it, sensible approaches to well-being often fall by the wayside. Levine calls midlife one of the most stressful times in a woman’s life. “Time away at a wellness resort with supportive counselors and trainers can allow someone to pause, reflect on the status of her health, examine bad habits that may have become routine, and set new goals for health and wellness that can be incorporated into her life at home,” she says.
- Destination: Freelance health writer Sheryl Kraft says to consider a visit to Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in the Berkshires, Massachusetts. You won’t blow your budget — though Kripalu maintains the highest certification standards, she says. “I know that any programs or classes I take will be led by expert instructors who are at the top of their field and on the cutting edge of what’s best for the mind, body and soul.”
After years of parenting, you’ll find yourself alone with your partner, and heading out of town together with intentional, romantic adventures in mind will do wonders to refresh your love life. Kim Orlando, founder and managing director of TravelingMom.com and the mother of three young adult children, puts it this way: “Empty-nest travel with my husband feels similar to a first date: a mix of anticipation and trepidation.”
- Destination: To help transition to this new stage in life, consider the Four Seasons Resort Nevis in Saint Kitts and Nevis. It offers a romantic evening called Spa Under the Stars that gives a couple private access to all spa amenities, a pampering couple’s massage and a four-course dinner under a starry sky with Nevis Peak looming in the distance. (Though part of their larger romantic package, it can be reserved on its own.)
Never been out on your own, and looking for the self-satisfaction of doing a trip by yourself? “If you’ve spent most of your life having to worry about what someone else — your significant other, kids or friends — wants to do on vacation, it’s time for a solo trip of your own,” urges travel writer Kaeli Conforti, a huge fan of traveling solo. She says it will teach you a lot about yourself and will bolster your self-confidence.
- Destination: Nestled in the mountains, Ojai Valley Inn (OVI) in Ojai, California is popular with solo female travelers, says Tara McClure, an agent with Magical Moments Vacations. That’s a comforting fact for first-timers, and safety when traveling solo is foremost on McClure’s mind. OVI knows you by name and really watches out for you, she says. (Dogs are also welcome, which is a significant feature for McClure because having her pup along is important to her happiness.)
Get smart(er) travel
Maybe you’re craving headier experiences that provide authentic connectivity through meaningful activities representative of local traditions and history. “Cultural experiences are never about just one thing, like learning to cook a local dish. Everything comes together, so you’re learning about the people, their history, maybe architecture, or local legends. I really feel like I come away with a better sense of a place when I seek out an enriching experience,” says Teresa Bitler, a prolific travel writer.
- Destination: A unique experience, the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix celebrates the indigenous Pima and Maricopa tribes in its design and architecture. The destination allows for an immersive cultural experience, with offerings including indigenous-themed guestrooms that reflect upon the artistry and culture of the two communities; dinner at the restaurant Kai, which explores the life cycle of indigenous people through native dishes; and native-themed holistic spa experiences.
Be brave travel
Confront your fears, taking healthy steps to seize the day, try new things and stretch yourself. Lisa Beach, a journalist specializing in travel/food/lifestyle/wellness, says, “As I get older, I yearn to keep testing the boundaries of my comfort zone to live a happy, vibrant life. Travel allows me to continue to grow by being brave — whether that’s trying a new activity, joining up with strangers for a group tour, exploring a new destination, or learning a new skill.”
- Destination: The 1-acre island of Saba Rock in the British Virgin Islands is a good, safe option for exercising your spirit of adventure — albeit with an abundance of hand-holding. General Manager Alain Prion sums it up when he says, “We have bucket-list adventures that anyone can try as long as they are ready to take the plunge.” On-site dive partner Dive BVI makes snorkeling easy for newbies, and SNUBA is available for those not quite ready to learn to dive. The trade winds in the North Sound also make this little paradise optimal for trying windsurfing and kitesurfing.