Let’s Take the First Step, Together!


Every once in a while, not often enough for most of us, you get an affirmation from the world that you’re on the right track. This is a story about a recent example in my life and the motivation behind Women’s Travel Wisdom.

Last fall, one of our trips was a writers’ retreat trip to the Bordeaux region of France. This area is close to my heart; we’ve had a family home near St. Emilion for more than 15 years now. A group of 8 women came to the area to hone their writing skills under the tutelage of award-winning crime novelist Cara Black and travel journalist Sarah Lieberman.

Cara Black (left) & Sarah Lieberman

That we were staying in fabulous châteaux in one of the most beautiful places on earth surely added to the inspiration. But this story is not really about the retreat itself. The story starts after these 8 women arrived home. 

nspired and excited to have met like-minded souls, they kept in touch via WhatsApp, our preferred method of talking and sharing photos while traveling. They chatted, commented, shared pictures, recipes, quotes, and books they’d read until someone in the group suggested that they should start a book group. And so they did.  

They met once a month via Zoom, just like a normal book group would, but virtually. What I love about this group is that each lady couldn’t be more different. Judy is in her 80s, hails from my home state of Nebraska, and made us all belly laugh with her take-no-prisoners sense of humor.

Having fun 🤩  being silly

Jennifer is in her late 50s and comes from the NY area; only months before the trip she lost her husband. Lisa was an accomplished, kick-a** entrepreneur, and Holly, the youngest of the group in her late 30’s, works as a food writer.

During our stay in Bordeaux, she casually whipped together a gorgeous fruit tart one morning like it was nothing. Karen from the great state of Pennsylvania had taken a trip before with Girls’ Guide and she adores a learning vacation. Michelle, in her 40’s, was taking her very first trip to France, treating herself after a successful yet exhausting year. She walks with a cane yet is one of the most positive, sunny individuals I’ve ever met. Everyone immediately loved the bubbly and vivacious Marianne, who’s single and knows how to have fun! Last but not least there’s Deb who revealed it was her first trip ever without her husband. She was the one who started the book group.

After months of being back home and sharing daily on WhatsApp as well as keeping up with their book group, they decided to take another trip altogether; a long weekend in New Orleans, another of my favorite places! It made my day to see a WhatsApp from the group exclaiming; “I just want to thank YOU for connecting all of us Bordeaux gals. We are having so much fun in NOLA, wondering at what connected us … It comes down to YOU.” 

But of course, it’s not really me. Girls’ Guide may create a safe space for women to bond, but it’s the ladies themselves who rise to the occasion. It’s such a beautiful thing for me to watch, especially when I see an 83-year-old laughing hysterically with a 37-year-old, each having led vastly different lives but feeling so closely connected after just a few days. 

Connection is what I live for and what we all long for, don’t you think? The shared human experience is as essential as food, water, and shelter. It’s even more rewarding when you connect deeply with someone very different from yourself. It reminds us that the things we share are far more important than our petty differences, like age, background, and economic station. It warms my heart. It’s why at 58, I work 10 hours a day most days because it does not work for me, it’s my passion and my raison d’être.

Marianne & Lisa (right)

This is why with a LOT of help, I have created an even bigger place for us as women to bond and connect, on a deep and meaningful level. It’s a place where you can find your next travel buddy or travel crew. A space where you can also share your sorrows and heartaches from the past few years which have indeed been rough on us all. And it’s a time to get inspired by some incredible rockstar women who have so much wisdom to share with us. 

You might have read about it here before. Women’s Travel Wisdom a coming together for 5 days and 4 nights with 88 other women to talk about the intersection of wellness and travel. I’ve come to know how critical both subjects and experiences are in my own life, as well as for so many others. The two words Travel and Wellness don’t adequately describe what we’ll be talking about. We’ll explore why we travel, the fear & anxiety that holds us back, how to use mindfulness in our daily lives, how to learn from ancient cultures like Japanese Wabi-Sabi and indigenous tribal wisdom, and focus on mother nature. 

I sincerely hope you’ll join us so that you too can experience the high I’ve been able to feel as I come home from a Girls’ Guide trip. For me, communing with others and learning something new is the best high you can have. If you’re anything like me, or better yet, if you’ve never experienced a retreat where the connection is the mission, come try this one out. I promise you’ll walk away inspired and changed, armed with a bevy of new gal friends. 

And remember those Bordeaux gals – wouldn’t you know that as soon as the “Ladies of the Chateau” (their group nickname) got back from NOLA, they’ve begun planning their next adventure. I hear it will be Antigua or Guatemala. I couldn’t be prouder that I was a tiny part of their shared friendship. 

Cheers from Judy & the whole gang above!

Please join us this October in northern California – in friendship.  

xx -Doni