Outdoor Adventure Travel Trips for Vacations That Are Anything But Relaxing

Wild Women Expeditions

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The Canadian company Wild Women Expeditions has been around since 1991, encouraging women to get out in the wilderness in a totally female environment. Now the world’s largest women-only travel company, they offer trips for wild women to adventure in every corner of the world: Go trek and raft through Thailand, safari through India, ice climb and hike across Alaska, or summit Mount Kilimanjaro. Whether you want to improve your kayaking skills, summit a major mountain, or learn to surf, you can join WWE to get it done—and meet a whole bunch of badass ladies along the way. (If you really just want to surf, head to one of these beginner-friendly surf resorts.)

Photo: Wild Women Expeditions

The North Face Basecamp

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Join legendary adventure outfitter The North Face for their summer campout series, leaving from various locations including New York City, Minneapolis, Boulder, and the Bay Area.

From June to August 5, they run three-day adventures complete with campfires, morning yoga, scenic hikes, swimming holes, live music, and the best tent-side food and drinks you’ve ever tasted. Best part? You don’t need a ton of gear—or logistical camping experience. All you have to do is sign up, pack your personal belongings, and they do the rest, including providing an Instagram-worthy tent under the stars.

REI Adventures

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REI Adventures is like a virtual candy shop for adrenaline junkies. Pick between hiking the Cinque Terre in Italy or the Costa Brava in Spain, cycling across Vietnam or New Zealand, or climbing up Mount Washington. You can embark on a family adventure, feel the boss-lady vibes of a female-only trip, or set out on a voluntourism trip that lets you give back while you get outside.

Want more of a festival setting? Try one of REI’s Outessa Retreats for a weekend of all-female outdoor adventures. Choose to camp, glamp, or stay in a hotel, and then tailor your camp schedule to your interests—whether you want to learn how to backpack, cook over a campfire and master a pocket knife, or trail run, mountain bike, and rock climb. (Here are some more gorgeous glamping destinations across the U.S.)

(Pro tip: Sign up to be a member of the REI Co-op, and you’ll get huge discounts on trips, as well as access to special offers, sales, and a yearly dividend based on your purchases for the year.)

Chicks Climbing and Skiing

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This year, Chicks Climbing and Skiing celebrates their 20th year of leading women on epic and empowering adventures. They tap the country’s top experts in rock climbing, ice climbing, and backcountry skiing to offer women-specific and women-only instruction in rock, ice, and alpine climbing, as well as avalanche education and backcountry skiing. (Read this to get psyched: Why You Need to Try Rock Climbing Right Now)

Hop on a multi-day trip to kick-start or refine your outdoor adventure skills in Colorado, Nevada, California, and other scenic locations across the country—or join one of their select international trips to ice climb in Iceland or ski in Japan.

Sacred Rides Mountain Biking Trips

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Love to mountain bike, but bored with your local trails? Or always wanted to try it, but need some time with a guide? Head out on a mountain biking trip with Sacred Rides, as close as California or Utah or as far as Patagonia or Nepal. (Just brush up on these mountain biking basics first.)

They have something for everyone: explorer rides for beginners, group rides (where you supply the crew, they supply a guide), bring-a-partner rides for those with SO’s who don’t MTB, and women-only rides for feeling all the female power. And you can feel especially good about spending your PTO (and cash) on a trip with Sacred Rides: Their conscious mountain biking mission means they build schools, create jobs, save wilderness, and make positive change in the world wherever they ride.

Photo:   Robert Niedring / Shutterstock

Explorer Chick

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It’ll be tough to choose between all the bucket list adventures offered at Explorer Chick—an all-female adventure travel company. Travel to view the Northern Lights in Iceland, raft and hike Machu Picchu, or trek across Patagonia. Whatever trip you select, prepare to feel empowered, make friends with strangers, and score some serious outside playtime with fellow female adventurers. Oh, and to come home with some dirt under your fingernails. These chicks go big when they leave home.

Outward Bound

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You’ve likely heard of Outward Bound, the mammoth outdoor and experiential education nonprofit that’s been at it since 1941. ICYDK, you can take courses at a local Outward Bound school or you can get out there with them in the wild and learn new skills right in the elements. Ship off for as few as five or as many as 50 days for a quick trip or full semester course on anything outdoors: rock climbing, canoeing, canyoneering, mountaineering, dog sledding, sailing, rafting, and more.

Need an excuse to ask for more PTO? Head out on one of their leadership-focused trips and watch as the take-charge skills you learned in the wild translate to your real life. (Also, here are four reasons why adventure travel is definitely worth your PTO.)

Photo:   Westend61 / Getty Images

Active Adventures

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Set out on an active adventure as short as five or as long as 14 days to epic locales in New Zealand, South America, the Himalayas, and Europe. You’ll pair up with a knowledgeable local guide to snorkel, raft, and kayak through exotic waters or hike and bike your way up mountains—or choose a spot that includes a hot spring or winery on the itinerary as well, for a few choice moments of relaxation. (Related: Here’s how to plan the most epic adventure vacation of your life—no trip company required.)

G Adventures

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Independent travel company G Adventures offers a mix of trips for different clientele—including exclusive 18-to-30-somethings millennial trips, family trips, and National Geographic adventures—but they also offer 62 new active tours that let you hike, bike, trek, and paddle your way through a new country (or countries!).

Their “everyone’s welcome!” attitude ensures that you’ll keep pace with the group whether you’re a newbie or seasoned in your sport of choice. (Though you can also select your trip based on difficulty.) Want to get a taste of everything? Try a multi-sport tour that’ll surprise you with a new activity at every turn. (Here’s why you should go ahead and try something new, even if it terrifies you.)

Photo: © G Adventures, Inc.

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