A first-hand account of our first women only tour to Croatia

by | 30 Nov 2022

Women only tours are becoming increasingly popular, but what is it really like to go on one? For a first-hand account, we had the pleasure of speaking with Carolyn Ray from JourneyWoman, who recently travelled on our inaugural Venice & The Croatian Coast, A Women Only Tour.

Insight Vacations’ Wander Women tours offer the opportunity to join a diverse group of female travelers from all over the world. These trips feature thoughtfully chosen routes, are curated by female Travel Directors, and include MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences that triumph local women’s achievements and businesses. On Venice & The Croatian Coast, A Women Only Tour and Inspiring Iceland, A Women Only Tour, you will meet exceptional ladies that are working within their communities to sustain their culture, heritage, and our planet’s future.

Read more: Healing the wounds of war through the power of community: The Tara Community Center


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Four years ago, Carolyn Ray took the ambitious step and sold up all of her belongings to fulfil her dream of travelling the world. “I didn’t want to be constrained by possessions and the corporate life anymore. As a consultant I could manage my clients from the road. So, when my daughter left for university, I auctioned off everything to be able to travel.” she explains. Then, in 2019, Carolyn had the opportunity to purchase the women’s solo travel website JourneyWoman and she jumped at the chance.


JourneyWoman started in 1994 as the first solo travel website for women. It was created by the late Evelyn Hannon, recognized as the first writer covering solo travel in the world. It now has 62,000 subscribers and offers a women’s travel directory, to help women find safe and affordable travel experiences, including women-only tours.

“JourneyWoman is also a community,” Carolyn explains. “We’re comprised of women, mostly aged over 50, who have a shared interest in travel. And shared values about why and how we travel. We want authentic travel experiences, to experience a place and get to know the people. And when you travel solo you have even more opportunity to do that.”

Read more: 4 Insight female guests on why they choose to travel solo with us


“I think that as women, we should do all we can to support each other,” Carolyn continues. “And that is really what JourneyWoman is all about. We’re advocating for women as the influencers in travel. And we’re advocating for solo travel in all its forms as a way to empower women.

“Through JourneyWoman I’m also trying to support small businesses and businesses that understand the needs of women. So, I think it is very important that companies like Insight integrate these kinds of experiences on their women-only tours,” she says of the many MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences that are featured on the tour. “Through these we can fully appreciate the challenges that women are facing in different countries.”

Read more: Brewers, bakers and employment makers: meet the Wander Women of Croatia


A perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in nature and culture, this 13-Day tour takes you to Italy, Croatia and Slovenia. Cruise the canals of Venice on a gondola, see the majestic Plitvice Lakes National Park and stroll around medieval Dubrovnik. Taste oysters fresh from the sea and stay in beautiful hotels with breathtaking views. A range of thoughtfully curated and sustainable experiences are on offer on this Croatia tour. We asked Carolyn to share her thoughts on these with us, and on the tour in general.


“There were 14 people on the tour including me,” Carolyn tells us. “Two women came as friends, one mother-daughter combination and the rest were solo travelers. The group included ladies from the USA, Canada and Australia. For many it was their first post-pandemic vacation. Some had travelled with Insight in the past and for some it was their first solo trip.” For Carolyn this was her first visit to Croatia.

“From the start it was a really great women’s travel group. I find that intimacy can grow pretty quickly when you travel, especially amongst women,” she says. “There are many shared life experiences, so there is so much to talk about.” You can read Carolyn’s review of her trip here on JourneyWoman.

Read more: A friend made traveling is a friend for life, and these stories prove it


“Split was an absolute favorite for me,” Carolyn enthused. “The Old City, Diocletian’s Palace, the Klis Fortress on the hill and many cute restaurants and shops. I could’ve spent a lot more time here.

“We met Petra from the Domine Organization to learn about the role of women in Split” she talks of a MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience in the city. “She told us about prominent women that helped shape its history, often unmentioned in the history books. Giving us an invaluable insight.”

The Domine organization works to empower women and advocate equality across society, through workshops, research, training and networking opportunities. All profits from the tours go back to fund the counselling services that the organization offers to victims of violence.

Read more: MAKE TRAVEL MATTER®: Why developing meaningful travel experiences has never been more important


Floating at the southernmost point of Slovenia lies the Fonda Fish Farm, possibly the smallest fish farm in Europe. Here, Insight guests meet Dr. Irene Fonda on a MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience. Along with a tour of the farm, she shares how her family are playing a significant role in the protection of the indigenous marine life in the Gulf of Piran.

“For me this was really fascinating,” says Carolyn. “We went out with Irene and her brother on a boat to visit the fish farm. She has got such a great story, telling us how you break into a global market like this. It is hard to imagine the work that has gone into this business. She had so much experience and wisdom to share.”

“We went to eat some of her fish at a local restaurant. To better compete in the global market, Dr. Fonda created a new fish brand called Fonda. She puts tags on her fish with the date it was caught, which is sold one day later. So you could see the process from end to end. From little fish to big fish!” She says with a laugh.

Read more: 5 MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences that will connect you to extraordinary people


In the Bay of Mali Ston, guests have the pleasure of meeting Tomislav, a local oyster farmer to taste fresh shellfish direct from the sea. Here you will learn about the cultivation of oysters, before enjoying a delicious Sea-to-Table tasting of fresh shellfish and local wine.

“You go out on this unique boat to the middle of the lake and he basically pulls the oysters out of the water,” Carolyn describes the experience. “He cooked them in wine for like three minutes and then we ate them. Just like that. We sat at a table with music and wine, even though it was around 11am! This was near the end of the trip, so a real intimacy had developed by that time, we were a close-knit ladies travel group. We looked like we could’ve been in a TV commercial and the food was delicious.”

Read more: Why a guided tour will strengthen your mother-daughter relationship


If you are thinking about trying solo travel for the first time, read on to discover Carolyn’s top solo travel tips.

Start at home: “I always recommend that, if you want to travel solo, start at home,” Carolyn advises. “Go out and have dinner by yourself, take a hotel or an Air BnB room for a night. Don’t go right away by yourself to a big city and intimidate yourself.”

Take a group tour: “A group tour like this is wonderful for women,” she says of our women only tours. “Going out on your own can be a courageous step. Insight have decades of experience developing tours, and resources available should anything go wrong, especially as travel is now so unpredictable. Not having to worry about where you are going, where you are staying or how you’re going to get there takes away a lot of the anxiety.

“Having a Travel Director who has expert knowledge of your destination makes your first experience so much better. A group tour is therefore a really viable option for women who want a stress-free experience, especially if it is your first solo trip.

“To help you out further we have loads of travel tips for solo travelers on JourneyWoman, including packing tips.”

Read more: 10 reasons to choose solo travel


Our two amazing Wander Women tours are created for women by women. Choose to follow in Carolyn’s footsteps on Venice & The Croatian Coast, A Women Only Tour. Or discover Iceland’s outstanding natural beauty and traditions over 10 days with Inspiring Iceland, A Women Only Tour. For those keen to go it alone, for more information on solo travel with Insight take a look here.

Alex is the Editor of Insightful, and has over 10 years' experience as a writer and editor within the travel industry. In his professional travels, he has been all over the world – from road-tripping in Australia and New Zealand, to eating his way around the Canadian Maritimes and criss-crossing Italy from Sardinia to Emilia-Romagna.