By Phyllis Stoller
NABBW’s Associate for Group Travel
Everyone of us has, at some time in our lives, been “stifled/strong-armed” from doing something we love and thoroughly enjoy, by well-meaning family members who cite safety concerns.

I recognized this recently, after I fell down 15 stairs in my beloved old house, which has steep, painted wooden steps.

  • Everyone in my family had warned me about the perceived dangers of wooden stairs and and urged me to practice better “concentrated banister use.” They all fretted over my safety.
  • Did I sell the house? Install an elevator? Stop using the second floor? NO. NO. And NO.
  • Instead I forced myself to go up and down repeatedly until there was only a frisson of fear left.

I understood that my family was concerned for my safety. But I adore my old house and don’t want to move.

And like so many of us — probably you too — I feel my life is does not need to be the life my family scripts for me.

Similarly, in my experience as the owner of a travel service, I’ve noted that many women feel alone in their quest to travel and see the world.

We find others looking at us, as if we are crazy to want to explore. And if we tell them we’re wanting to spend a holiday away from home in say, Morocco, makes both friends and families a bit more aggressive.

Families and friends can smother your sense of adventure. They mean well, but they can inadvertently steal your right to be excited about travel. The pull of what others want for you is strongest during the holidays. Yes the appeal for many of being away for emotional holidays is there even if your memories are happy ones.

“Every year, the holidays are the same: I cook for everyone. They eat. They leave. I clean up. This year I am going on a trip with you!”

The Women’s Travel Group regularly hears women asking about trips for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Many reasons:
  • Some simple like a teacher who only has those days off. Phyllis Elephant Ride
  • Others more complicated: a recent divorcee wanting to escape for a few days.
  • And a third group: who just need a treat. Especially one that stays with you for years. The best line we heard was one woman who said: “Every year I cook for everyone. They eat. They leave. I clean up. This year I am going on a trip with you!”

From time to time, a few don’t go because “The family thinks they should stay home”. I love my family, and would do anything for them, but frankly, if I choose to treat myself with a trip, that is MY choice. Please don’t go away for a holiday is a kind of emotional blackmail especially for someone who expresses excitement about her upcoming trip.

Here are a few tips for Holiday Travel:
  1. Choose a place that has no connection with your emotional life.
  2. Bring a few dollars and treat yourself to one goodie: special meal, personal gift etc.
  3. Once on the trip, make sure you get your bucket list filled; don’t compromise with others.
  4. Read relevant books and see films shot in your destination, so your advance time is also filled with excitement not just family negatives.
  5. Don’t fall for that guilt-generating wail, “We will miss you so much!” Especially, if during much of the year, they are too busy for you. Likewise, ignore those who suggest that you must not travel because “You will get Ebola on the plane.”
Don’t let others take away your right to do something you want.

Morocco-Thanksgiving-day-7Unlike my steep stairway at home, none of The Women’s Travel Group trips is the least bit dangerous, unhealthy or risky.  There is absolutely no chance our group travelers will get sprayed with Ebola or killed by ISIS.

Bottom line?  I am paraphrasing Harvey Fierstein here: “Never be bullied. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.”

Phyllis Stoller, NABBW’s Group Travel Associate is founder of The Women’s Travel Group, a tour operator which specializes in smart vacations for smart women, was recently honored as one of the 14 most influential women in Group Travel by Group Travel Magazine. The Women’s Travel Group works with travel agents and is a strategic partner of SITA World Tours.

For solo women travelers who do not yet know her, Phyllis also founded The Women’s Travel Club. Both it and The Women’s Travel Group cater to women travelers, especially those traveling solo on group tours and cruises.
Phyllis will personally escort trips to Sicily and India in 2014.

Find more of Phyllis’ travel tips on her blog at and on Facebook at “toursforwomen,” where you can feel free to ask Phyllis your travel questions.

Phyllis Stoller