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Our Story

The story behind Girls' Guide

My love affair with Paris began when my sister took me as a high-school graduation gift. Ever since, I knew Paris would need to be a part of my life. I started Girls’ Guide to Paris in 2009 so I no longer had to choose between what I did and what I loved.

After a girls’ trip to Paris one year with everyone staying at our apartment, a light bulb went off. Showing friends a place you love in the way you love it feels special for everyone. Something magical happens when a small group of women feel a kinship with one another in a place of great beauty and culture. The story-telling, the dreams, the heartbreak, the laughter and the discovery all meld together. It’s a completely different experience than going by yourself, with your family, or on a large packaged group tour.

Soon I began leading travel tours for women who didn’t already know one another, and voila, the same magic happens. Everyone opens up, connects, and has an experience that transcends the travel. Now we’re traveling the globe and so we changed our name to Girls’ Guide to the World. We are sisters who come as strangers and leave as friends. With our travel tours for women, we go everywhere from France and Japan, to Bali and Africa.

Come see the world with women who share your appreciation for beauty and spirit of adventure. Whether you want to visit Mongolia or Morocco, we travel in style. It’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity to see the world and make friends that you’ll have for a lifetime.

I feel so blessed to be able to do what I love and because we’ve grown we now have a stupendous team of experience professionals and partnerships with other incredible guides & facilitators who are as passionate about what they are doing as I am.

Our Travel Code of Ethics

Girls’ Guide to Paris & Beyond is proud to be a part of the global Authentic Responsible Travel movement. We believe the way you travel and the choices you make along the way are just as important as where you go.

Authentic

Our trips are focused on engaging with the local people and culture in the places we visit. When we understand and honor the way other people experience the world – their histories, food, language, customs, values, and priorities – we appreciate their perspective. Suddenly, our differences seem superficial yet beautiful, and the commonality of our human experience reveals the connection that binds us together.

Responsible

When we travel, we’re visiting a place that’s someone else’s home. So we strive to make sure our effect on their home is a positive one. We consider and try to minimize our negative impact on the environment and the culture we’re there to learn about, and maximize the economic benefit for local people.

Led by our founder’s internal compass with input from organizations like Journeywoman (we’re a member of the advisory council), our commitment to Authentic Responsible Travel can be seen in every trip we lead.

1. We look to get off the beaten path to discover the true character of a place, as represented by the people who live there and the traditions they live day-to-day. When we do go to a popular area, we try to go off-season or during a shoulder-season so we’re not contributing to tourist over-crowding.

2. We strive to be responsible and thoughtful about our impact on the environment and our treatment of living beings. We believe in a deep respect for all humans, animals, plants and our mother earth.

3. As a woman-owned business, we strongly believe in supporting other women and girls, whether that’s a street-side memelita seller in Oaxaca or an organization like Beads for Education that’s working to improve the status of women in Kenya through education and women’s business development.

4. We take a deep interest in the culture of the places we visit; we don’t just check off sights seen. We love to sit down and break bread with a local, learn their customs and at least a few words of the language. We are guests not tourists. Discovery of the country we are visiting is all about its people, the history of the country, tasting its food and drinking its spirits.

5. We keep our hearts and minds open.

6. Safety and security are absolutely key, but we don’t let fear lead us.

7. When we fly, we will calculate and offset our carbon omission by making a contribution to save the earth and counteract climate change.

8. We treat our fellow lady travelers as our sisters from another mother, knowing that behind every face there’s an intriguing story waiting to be heard.

9. We won’t stay in a big chain hotel that’s trying to create a homogenous experience no matter where you are. Instead, we select lodging that’s representative of the places we visit – a private Chateau, a traditional Japanese ryoken or a welcoming but luxurious, independently owned boutique hotel.

10. We appreciate little luxuries like fine wines and turn-down service, but we can put on our big girl pants and roll own suitcase when we need to.

11. We say a prayer to our inner-goddess, and treat ourselves and our sisters like princesses. But we also act like the CEO’s of our own lives. We are never helpless and we can be righteous warriors.

12. We understand that travel is all about discovery. We keep an open mind to new places, new food, new people, new ways of doing things, and the ever-evolving world around us.

13. We remain grateful for the opportunity knowing how few people in the world have the means to travel. It is a true privilege.

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Meet Our Founder

Who is Doni Belau?

An inveterate traveler, I’ve been to nearly 70 countries (and counting). I come alive when I travel, when I’m exploring, and when I’m seeing, tasting and feeling something new. I love to help other women experience this sensation as I truly feel it helps us see a larger world of possibilities within ourselves. Girls’ Guide to Paris & Beyond is an invitation to travel with me or one of our well trained guides to explore another part of the world while we explore another part of ourselves.

Before Girls’ Guide, I had a long career in television production, stayed at home when my kids were young (and am grateful for that), then tried to make a difference in the not-for-profit arena and politics. I started a not-for-profit in South Africa helping kids in a Cape Town township with HIV – one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

I hail from Nebraska, but I’ve lived most of my adult life in New York. 20 years ago, we bought our first home in France; I’ve been trying to live there full-time ever since. Recently we sold our place in Westchester, NY and we are dividing our time between our place in France, our sailboat in Connecticut and anyplace warm in the winter. I’m always on the road so I do consider myself at gypsy at this point.

I’m obsessed with food…gourmet Michelin star level meals to aligot at a street fair. I relish finding that unique place with a chef who really cares what he or she is putting on the plate. Plus, I’ll try anything once. Weirdest foods sampled to date: frogs legs (very good~), escargot & foie gras (duh!), eland and zebra (in Africa), fermented shark (in Iceland – GROSS) and fried grasshoppers (tasty!).

I’ve been a brunette and a blond and blond is better! I try to stay fashion conscious but sometimes I just have to throw on the mom jeans. I believe in the motto “Never act your age!”. Oh, and I’m obsessed with gardens and flowers.

Meet The Team

Ops Manager, Problem Solver

Cheri Kendrick

Creates order out of chaos, lives in a tropical paradise, hiker, gardener & snorkeler

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Experience Expert

Ida Popovski

Born in the city of lights, parle Français, soul of a nomad, former casino dealer, Yugoslav, Ends up in unexpected journeys.

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Finance

Robert Belau

Sailing Captain, guy behind the gals, spreadsheet guru, fan of a Dark & Stormy cocktail.

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Concierge Extraordinaire

Erika Mortell

Animal lover, dog Mom, secretly loves trading stocks and options, people person, lover of the islands and the water.

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