Create with the heart; build with the mind.”
— Criss Jami
In 2018, I launched my first two Wander Women Retreats. In 2019, against all odds, I launched three more. In total, we’ve welcomed fifty-two guests from six countries, showing them the beauty of exotic international destinations Thailand and Egypt, and domestic gems of St. Pete and Martha’s Vineyard.
And now, in 2020, we have eight retreats on the docket, with the potential to double the number our last two years of guests combined. I’m so proud.
Of course, with this expansion comes exciting changes. Since the first night I pressed publish on my very first retreat sales page, I’ve just been humming with hope, excitement, and big ideas. Really, these retreats feel like the pinnacle of everything I’ve been working on and working towards in all the years I’ve been pouring my heart into Alex in Wanderland. Yoga, diving, photography, sisterhood, sustainability — it all comes together to create these once-in-a-lifetime trips.
Sometimes I get so high on ideas I feel like I could spin off the planet. And then I get brought back to earth in the best way possible — grounding down and connecting with the incredible Wander Women family. I feel such a deep friendship and love for the girls who have joined me so far, and can’t wait to meet all of those who I’m lucky enough to share my favorite destinations with in the future.
I get asked often who comes on Wander Women Retreats. While the average age is mid-twenties to mid-thirties, we’ve had guests that ranged from eighteen years old to their mid-sixties, who’s careers range from ER doctor to bartender to retired professional skydiver (not kidding!) to accountant. I remember gushing to one of my best friends about how lucky I felt that my trips had just seriously been packed with really amazing humans, and she basically rolled her eyes at me and was like, “sorry, not to quote an Instagram caption here, but your vibe attracts your tribe, girl!” Whatever the reason, I am grateful.
Planning and executing these retreats takes more energy, love, logistics, and trust in the universe than basically anything else I’ve ever done before. But it also might just be the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I get such a high when I read an email from someone who tried scuba diving or went on a trip or had an adventure because of something they read on this blog. And I constantly preach about the transformative power of travel. And now I get the incredible gift of seeing it with my own eyes!
That joy is a two way street. Nothing makes us swell with smiles more than the fact that we’re now welcoming some guests onto their third retreat with us!
Retreats are about more than just going on vacation — they are about making time for growth and community and gratitude. And that’s why I’m so proud to be throwing myself into a major year of hosting them. Scroll to the end of the post for big new changes we are making around here to honor that. In the meantime, here’s what we’ve been working so insanely hard on at Wander Women HQ…
Our Latest Launch
We are so excited about the launch of six more of our 2020 retreats, in Israel, Florida, Egypt, and Lebanon!
From camel riding to dive sites through Egypt’s deserts, to trapezing through Tel Aviv, to restoring coral at nurseries in the Florida Keys, these are bucket list trip that we can’t wait to share with you. I’m pretty dang astounded to say that we’ve sold nearly 30% of these retreats in presale.
Scoop up spots while you can!
High Flying Israel:
An Aerial Arts + Yoga Retreat
May 23-28, 2020
Y’all know I can’t get enough aerial! Which is why I’m so thrilled to be partnering with Brenna Bradbury of High Flying Retreats for an aerial adventure through Israel — we’ll explore the aerial, acro, pole, and circus communities of seaside Tel Aviv, then continue on an optional add-on adventure to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.
We’ll start each day with an aerial-strengthening or recovery yoga class — including one from atop a stand up paddle board — and end it sampling Tel Aviv’s best restaurants and epic nightlife. In the middle, we’ll learn from US Aerial Finalist Brenna at Tel Aviv’s urban circus school, Bascula, and hit up my favorite markets, beaches, and more.
To read more about the chic design hostel we’ll be based at, the endless hummus we’ll be eating, or the classes we’ll be taking and adventures we’ll be going on, check out our detailed High Flying Israel Aerial Arts and Yoga Retreat sales page.
Wander Women Israel:
An Adventure + Yoga Retreat
May 31 – June 7
Asking me to choose between my retreats is like asking a mother to pick between her babies, but — I have to confess I’m pretty obsessed with Israel right now. So join me for this this once-in-a-lifetime trip around the land of milk and honey, where we’ll hike, bike, surf, dive, stand up paddle board and party our way through Israel like insiders!
While most people associate Israel with politics and religion, there’s so much more to modern Israel. It’s filled with incredible history, yes, but also home to some of the most vibrant cities, stunning landscapes, and interesting people in the world. Israel is teeming with creative energy, filled with delicious healthy food, blessed with easy access to nature and bursting with passion for adrenaline-pumping adventure activities. And we’re going to enjoy all of that!
We’re going to do so while staying in a sleek seaside villa at the Red Sea, glamping at authentic Bedouin camp in the Negev Desert, and partying at a chic penthouse in Tel Aviv. To get a truly unique perspective on Israel you won’t find elsewhere, head to our comprehensive Wander Women Israel Adventure and Yoga Retreat sales page.
Wander Women Key Largo:
A Sustainability Dive + Yoga Retreat
Wander Women Retreats is leveling up our dedication to conservation in 2020, and this retreat is a huge reflection of that! We’re thrilled to partner with the Coral Restoration Foundation, the world’s largest marine conservation non-profit, for this dive retreat in Key Largo. This trip is all about sustainability – we’ll roll up our neoprene sleeves to plant new coral, learn to make our own eco leave-in conditioner, dive in the world’s largest coral nursery, visit a turtle hospital, and head out for a stand up paddle clean up ride. This retreat will celebrate both PADI Women’s Dive Day and the 20th anniversary of the Women Diver’s Hall of Fame — can you imagine a better way to celebrate than diving with a boat full of badass women?
The Florida Keys are world-renown and home to the only living coral reef in the continental United States and the third largest barrier reef on the planet. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Wander Women Retreat without yoga – we’ll start off each day with sun salutations on the sand in Key Largo with ocean views aplenty, and even take a scenic SUP yoga class.
Attendees will also earn a PADI Coral Reef Conservation Speciality certification. To learn more, check out our Wander Women Key Largo Sustainability Dive + Yoga Retreat sales page for all the details.
Wander Women Red Sea:
A Dive + Yoga Retreat
We’re bringing back the third edition of our incredible popular Red Sea retreat for 2020! Join us for our annual eight day women’s dive + yoga retreat in the remote desert paradise of Dahab, Egypt. This hidden gem, beloved by in-the-know travelers, is the Red Sea’s hippest beach town — and my home away from home in Sinai.
Once again, we’ll be showcasing all the most incredible diving opportunities the north Red Sea offers. We’ll take in some of North Sinai’s most famous dive sites, including The Blue Hole; complete a continuing education course of your choice in topics ranging from photography to freediving; go for a surreal UV night dive; and dive from shore, by boat, and yup — by camel!
For all the details on our itinerary, from the dive spots, to the ramshackle beach clubs we’ll explore, to our fun topside activities like bellydancing, check out our comprehensive Wander Women Red Sea Dive + Yoga Retreat sales page.
Wander Women Egypt:
A Yoga + Ancient Adventures Retreat
It’s going down! Last year I had so much fun on the Cairo extension to our Red Sea Retreat, I vowed that next time I was going to return to the best of not just the capital but all of Egypt. There’s definitely a standard route and setup for the very robust Egypt tour industry, and it wasn’t always easy to break the mold and do something different. But we did it!
This week of exploring Egypt’s ancient wonders, from the iconic pyramids to King Tut’s tomb, is the perfect deep dive into the country’s topside. For this retreat we’ve partnered with my own once-tour guide, now-friend Sameh to soak up unique experiences you won’t find anywhere else.
We’ll enjoy a henna party with our Nubian hosts, take in ancient treasures at the Egyptian Museum, stargaze from our private felucca (pack your Cleopatra outfit, ladies), browse markets straight out of Aladdin, and take an optional sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Valley of Kings. And that’s just the beginning.
To read up on all the details, from the amazing traditional Egyptian meals to the Cleopatra-esque Nile River cruise, check out our Wander Women Egypt Yoga + Ancient Adventures Retreat sales page.
Wander Women Lebanon:
A Yoga + Adventure Retreat
How tickled am I to be offering a retreat to Lebanon, a gem of the Middle East that’s largely inaccessible to independent travelers! For this retreat, I’ve partnered with our friend and fellow travel expert Jessica Parker of the Trip Whisperer, a Beirut expat who knows the country inside and out.
We’re going to explore ruins that rival Petra (without the crowds!), sip local wine through a lush valley, paddleboard in a hip surf town, party at Beirut’s famous beach clubs, hike and bike through stunning landscapes, and practice yoga all along the way. We’ll spend the week in an eclectic mix of accommodation, from chic, urban hotels to a seaside guesthouse, and a rambling rural ranch.
To read up on all the trip details, like our bike ride around a winery, aerial yoga class in Beirut, and more, check out our Wander Women Lebanon Yoga + Adventure Retreat sales page.
Can’t decide on a trip? Fear not — return guests and guests booking multiple retreats receive 10% off using the code “wanderoften.” And you might want to keep that one handy — because we’ve got more on the books for the future, as well.
Our first two retreats for 2020 are nearly sold out, too:
• The waiting list is open for our signature dive + yoga retreat in Koh Tao, Thailand from March 14-21, 2020 — we may add two more spots, so don’t be afraid to email email@example.com to be added!
• There are future trips currently in the research phase to Bonaire, Sudan, Indonesia, Oman, Mexico, Upstate New York, and more! Stay tuned for two more possible retreat announcements for the end of 2020.
What’s New For Wander Women
Like I said, we’re making a lot of big changes! Some are already in progress, some are still to come. One thing is for sure: we couldn’t do it without our new recent hire, Amanda. My past retreat guests already know and love Sam, who has been my incredible right hand woman here at Alex in Wanderland for ages. She’s still here! In 2020, Sam will help me give Alex in Wanderland a huge glow up, while Amanda and I rock out on Wander Women Retreats. And check out how lucky we are to have her!
Amanda is a creative project manager who’s worked on Cannes-award-winning programs for big consumer brands like Bacardi, Booking.com, and more. She spent six years in the New York agency world before making the switch to full-time remote and travel life. On the weekends, you can find her either hiking in the mountains or at a music festival, usually with a film camera and coconut water in hand.
And Amanda’s not the only new staff we’re bringing onboard. One of my biggest aha moments of 2019 was that it’s not realistic for me to be the trip host, coordinator, photographer, yoga instructor, and dive master — shocking information, right? But I love doing all those things, so it was natural for me to try to fill all the roles, at least in the beginning, you know?
But I quickly realized that I was spreading myself so thin I wasn’t giving our guests what they deserved from each of those areas — hence bringing on Amanda as our retreats coordinator, and hiring local photographers who will get a selection of photos into every guests’ inbox every night of the trip, as well as the full edit and a trip video, shortly after we hug goodbye. How exciting is that?
At the end of 2019 I attended DEMA, the world’s largest industry dive event, and started to dream up some really big trips for the end of 2020 and beyond. It was here that I started to wrestle with a question that I think will be a big one for Wander Women moving forward — do I need to be the expert on every destination we go?
In 2020 we are experimenting with running concurrent trips — like our Red Sea, Egypt and Lebanon trips — for those that want to mix and match for longer adventures, tour-like retreats with multiple destinations and partnering with different local experts to create incredible trips in places I might not personally know as deeply as, say, Thailand or Martha’s Vineyard. If I want to keep expanding to the many parts of the world that are so enticing to me, I’m going to have to find a balance where I create trips that feel wholly part of the Wander Women experience despite the fact that I haven’t, oh let’s say, lived there for seven years or spent my entire childhood traveling there and have a family home there (ahem, again, Thailand and Martha’s Vineyard!)
Right now, every single Wander Women Retreat is to a destination I know and love. That means that there’s an almost mind-boggling amount of research done — I go on a scouting trip, or sometimes several, to curate the perfect trip before my guests even whip out their passports. But is that sustainable, long-term? If I want to run a trip to Antartica, do I need to go there first, or can I experience it with fresh eyes alongside all of you, after extensive research to find the ideal partners and build the most unbeatable itinerary? That, I’m still sitting with.
What we don’t need to ponder? Our decision to double down on our values. Stay tuned for a dedicated blog post about how Wander Women Retreats is going green in 2020! Which brings me to my final point — we’re launching Wander Women Wednesdays, where I’ll take to the blog and to social media to talk about upcoming trips, ask questions, or muse on various retreat topics. I can’t wait!
Overall, just know that we are working hard to announce trips earlier, reach bigger destinations, recommit to conservation, and always provide you with the actual trip of a lifetime — or many trips of a lifetime, in the case of our return guests. And we are so honored to be able to do so.
Endless gratitude for all of your support! Can’t wait to hear what you think in the comments…