Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tomgirl's Picks of the Week, Dec. 29, 2009

This weekly installment of Tomgirl Tours' favorite people, places and websites is a sort of year-in-review; the best of the best from 2009. These fabulous friends, writers, bloggers and services are great resources for women and travelers...

In the Media
  • Big Blend Magazine is an e-zine dedicated to educating and informing readers about the various parts of the United States and beyond. While their subject matter ranges from leisure to music to fashion to special interest, we (of course!) adore their travel section. Run by mother-and-daughter team Nancy Reid and Lisa D. Smith (one of our favorite Twitter friends, too!)
  • Afar magazine, is a gorgeous publication that is right up our alley, with a focus on experiential travel... in their own words: Today's travelers want to get beyond the superficial, the mass-produced, the mass-consumed, and the mass-experienced. They look for the authentic in people, places, and things. Bravo!
  • Travel with Julie is one of our absolute favorite blogs. Writer Julie Gilley offers travel tips, ideas and opinions, all with the educated voice of someone who has been there (and everywhere!) Fantastic content; a must-read!

People to Know

  • Our friend Lauren Mackler is a world-renowned coach, keynote speaker, bestselling author, and host of the weekly Life Keys radio show on Hay House Radio. She has risen to international prominence by developing Illumineering, a groundbreaking coaching method that integrates family systems work, psychodynamic psychology, and coaching to help people free themselves from the shackles of their life conditioning, and create the personal and professional lives to which they aspire. Check out Lauren’s blog.
  • Vivvos designs and produces brazilian inspired underwear that makes Tomgirls like us want to indulge in their girly side! Vivvos is produced in in Vancouver with Italian fabrics. As their tagline perfectly summarizes: take away the danger and remove the constraints and the wayward spirit runs free. Love it!
  • Single Gourmet is a sweet (or savory!) way for single foodies to meet others. This great concept blends socializing with with food, offering a chance to meet new friends, enjoy great conversation, and sample top restaurants... talk about our favorite things! Check out their Metro New York and Rhode Island/Connecticut groups.

Hope you enjoyed our list of favorites this week, and will drop us a line with some of your own. Meanwhile, a safe, happy and prosperous New Year... See you in 2010!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday reflections on family and shared adventures

This holiday season has me, like many people, in a warm and nostalgic state of mind. Sharing time with family makes me cherish memories, both old and new.

I just came across some photos of me with my beautiful niece Brandi; and they made me smile and remember one of the reasons why I started Tomgirl Tours: my love of sharing outdoor experiences with other women... especially when they are family!

Brandi and I started our outdoor adventures long ago... as cowgirls:

Fast forward a couple decades, which landed us on opposite ends of the United States... she in Arizona, me in New England. So, last year, when she decided to join me for a zip lining adventure at Bretton Woods Canopy Tours in New Hampshire, part of Tomgirl's White Mountains Adventure, I couldn't have been more thrilled to take those cowgirls memories of yore and create new Tomgirl memories!

Brandi rarely gets to experience the cold and snow, but she was a trooper and loved it, especially in my fur hat!

We had a fabulous time. I feel very lucky to have these memories and such an amazing shared experience with Brandi. Reflecting on our adventure, I remember why I so often encourage family members--sisters, aunts and nieces like Brandi and I, cousins, or mothers and daughters to take a Tomgirl adventure trip together. The bonding experience is beyond description...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tomgirl's Picks of the Week

In the course of each week, we come across so many great websites and blogs relating to women’s and adventure travel, read interesting news stories we want to share, meet other fantastic women and discover exciting new companies. So, I decided to start giving fellow Tomgirls a one-stop spot where I’ll share some of my favorite news, people, places and updates in a weekly “Picks of the Week” blog post. I hope you’ll enjoy my picks each week (and, please share some of your own!) Here are some of my favorite things this week:

In the News

  • A couple new media sites for travel lovers and those, like me, who enjoy exploring: First, togfrog.com, a compilation of adventure reviews and videos from adventure travelers around the world (and a nifty map to help you locate them); Second, Signature Magazine, a new magazine celebrating those over 50 who enjoy travel and exploring the world around us.
  • This report that luxury travel is rebounding, meanwhile, is reason for those of us in the travel industry to smile as we head into 2010!

Interesting People and Places

  • Bloom With Barb is a site by Barb Scala, a certified coach, speaker and spokesperson for women in transition who want to sprout their dreams and grow their life and career. I was lucky to meet Barb at a recent event and, given her positive outlook and desire to empower other women, we instantly clicked. The Bloom With Barb site is filled with insightful, inspirational posts and information.
  • Holiday Goddess is a fantastic editorial site focused on women’s travel. Beautifully designed, easy to navigate, and filled with great info!

From Tomgirl Tours

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Join Tomgirl to Help Prevent Breast Cancer Through Education & Early Detection

The last of our four holiday gift certificate partner charity profiles is one Tomgirl Tours and I have long supported: the National Breast Cancer Foundation. While there are many organizations that help in the fight against breast cancer, the National Breast Cancer Foundation has a proactive prevention-focused approach that I am especially drawn to.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation's mission is to save lives through early detection and to provide mammograms for those in need. They strive to increase awareness through education, providing diagnostic breast care services for those in need, and providing nurturing support services. The organization was founded by Janelle Hail, now its CEO. Hail faced breast cancer when she was only 34 years old. At the time of her diagnosis she was living a healthy lifestyle and had no family history of breast cancer.

Long an advocate of women's health, which is a fundamental element of our own mission statement at Tomgirl Tours, this organization speaks to me. And I encourage all to join me in supporting it.

To help, I've made the National Breast Cancer Foundation one of the charities you may select to receive a donation when you purchase a Tomgirl Tours Gift Certificate this season. For more on how to purchase a gift certificate and help the National Breast Cancer Foundation in the process, see here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Join Tomgirl in supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters this season

The third of our four partner charitable organizations in Tomgirl Tours’ holiday gift certificate program is the amazing Big Brothers Big Sisters. I’ve long been an advocate of mentoring young girls to help them grow into strong, confident women (Tomgirls, you might say!) And, as the country’s oldest and largest youth mentoring program, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes such a vast impact on our greatest resource: children.

Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors children, ages 6 through 18, in communities across the country. Their mission is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with mentors that help create brighter futures, better schools, and stronger communities for all.

National research has shown that positive relationships between youth and their Big Brothers and Big Sisters mentors have a direct and measurable impact on children's lives. By participating in our youth mentoring programs, Little Brothers and Sisters are:

  • More confident in their schoolwork performance
  • Able to get along better with their families
  • 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
  • 27% less likely to begin using alcohol
  • 52% less likely to skip school.

We are proud to support this organization, and saw this commercial on a local network this week showing Laura Bush doing the same!

Purchase a Tomgirl Tours gift certificate this season, select Big Brothers Big Sisters as your charity of choice, and we will make a contribution on your behalf. Your gift will both give a special woman an amazing Tomgirl tour while, helping special children receive the support and mentoring they need.

For more on our gift certificates, see here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The National Forest Foundation: Preserving Our Precious Outdoor Spaces

In our series of "profiles" here on the charitable organizations we've teamed with for our gift certificate program, up next is one near and dear to outdoor-adventure-loving Tomgirls like me: The National Forest Foundation.

A Congressionally chartered organization, the National Forest Foundation engages Americans in community-based and national programs that promote the health and public enjoyment of the 193-million-acre National Forest System, and administers private gifts of funds and land for the benefit of the National Forests. In other words... it is the group that makes sure we have those wonderful outdoor spaces in which we can explore, enjoy nature, and breathe clean, fresh air. We are especially appreciative of their efforts because two of our tours, the Green Mountains Escape in Vermont

and the White Mountains Adventure in New Hampshire,

are set in National Forest areas (more on the National Forests here and here, respectively).

For those who purchase a Tomgirl Tours gift certificate this season, if you select the National Forest Foundation as your charity of choice, we will make a contribution to this wonderful organization. Your gift will both give a special woman an amazing Tomgirl tour while, as the National Forest Foundation so perfectly summarizes: help ensure a sustainable future for the many resources your National Forests provide to us all - fresh air and clean water, outdoor recreation experiences, diverse wildlife, and wild places to roam.

For more on our gift certificates, see here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thoughts on Holiday Gifts, Giving Back and (of Course) Travel!

Turkey leftovers in the fridge, an onslaught of catalogues in the mail and miles of traffic around the malls... yes, it's officially the holiday shopping season!

Yesterday, of course, was Black Friday, and we're less than 48 hours away from the so-called Cyber Monday. According to early reports, Black Friday sales held their own... not exactly robust, but no decline, either. The same is expected for Cyber Monday. (A personal aside: I'm all about the cyber shopping thing... why fight the crowds and get the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer tune firmly lodged in your brain if you can shop online?!)

Being, clearly, a fan of travel, I'm happy to find some fantastic gift ideas for the fellow travelers on my shopping lists. theplanetd just listed these fun ideas that every Tomgirl like me is surely coveting.

That said, these early retail sales reports underscore the financial struggle many are facing this year. Given the work I've been doing with non-profits in planning our gift certificate promotion that gives back to our partner charities, I've become hyper-aware of how the financial struggle is magnified for charitable organizations this year. So as I poke around online, I am thrilled to see other companies also offering gift ideas that "give back". Here are some fun, low-cost items to consider from Sensational Color.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy estimates that charitable giving will be down nearly 10% percent this year (more on that in a later post). So, as you shop for the holidays, please consider these wonderful opportunities to not only give, but also give back. And, if you are an adventure travel lover (or have one on your list), remember that every Tomgirl gift certificate purchase this season provides a significant contribution to your choice of our four partner charities (and that you need not battle the traffic at the mall to purchase one!)

Meanwhile, happy cyber shopping to all... (and, by the way, please let me know if you find any fabulous travel gadgets that I need to add to my wish-list!)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tomgirls Make Wishes Come True...

As part of Tomgirl Tours' holiday gift certificate program, which supports four of our favorite charitable organizations, we will be sharing a bit about each of the charity here on Travel for Tomgirls.

Kicking off this series of four posts is A Wish Come True.
Unlike our other partner organizations, A Wish Come True doesn't focus on women, health or the outdoors; it is simply a wonderful organization with an admirable mission (providing "wishes" for children battling life-threatening illness) that speaks to me and many other women.

A Wish Come True, founded in 1982, grants wishes to children aged 3-18; as of this year, they have granted 1,200 wishes, costing an average of $5,000 each. It is difficult to read through the stories of the children they've helped without getting choked up and wanting to help them grant wishes to more children... and so, Tomgirl Tours has vowed to do just that this holiday!

Anyone who purchases a Tomgirl Tours gift certificate this season can choose A Wish Come True (or three other organizations) and Tomgirl will donate at least $75 ($125 for week-long tour purchases) directly to A Wish Come True... allowing you to truly give special new meaning to your holiday "wish" list.

Call (866) 922-4990 or email me directly at lori@tomgirltours.com for more information or to purchase a gift certificate.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

This Holiday Give the Gift of Adventure as You Help Those in Need

Tomgirl Tours has officially inked the details for our holiday gift certificate program--one that allows purchasers to not only give the gift of upscale adventure tours to the women who receive them, but also to provide support to four charitable organizations that are near and dear to us at Tomgirl Tours.

As I outlined in my last post, this year has been an incredibly difficult one for many non-profit organizations, as people pulled back spending on all levels, especially their charitable donations. So, as I developed the idea of a gift certificate option for this holiday, I thought what better way--or time--for Tomgirl Tours to "give back", and allow purchasers to know that their holiday spending is also helping these organizations that do so much good.

In keeping with Tomgirl's dedication to women (and girls), health, and the Great Outdoors, we've selected four foundations as our partners. For each gift certificate sold, Tomgirl will make a donation to whichever cause the purchaser selects. We will donate $125 for each certificate for a week-long tour, and $75 for each certificate purchased for a weekend tour.

The organizations from which you can choose:
  1. A Wish Come True, which grants wishes to children ages 3 through 18 who have life-threatening illnesses and live in Rhode Island & areas of southeastern Massachusetts. As of June 2009, a Wish Come True had completed more than 1200 wishes, at an average cost of $5,000 each.
  2. The National Breast Cancer Foundation, which strives to save lives by increasing awareness of breast cancer through education and by providing mammograms for those in need.
  3. Big Brothers Big Sisters, the oldest, largest, and most effective youth mentoring organization in the United States. Mentoring children, ages 6 through 18, Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mission is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with mentors that have a measurable impact on youth.
  4. The National Forest Foundation, which engages Americans in community-based and national programs that promote the health and public enjoyment of the 193-million-acre National Forest System, and administers private gifts of funds and land for the benefit of the National Forests.
To decide which tour to put on your holiday wish list (so you can start dropping hints, of course!), click here. For information on how to purchase a Tomgirl Gift Certificate, contact me at (866) 922-4990 or email info@tomgirltours.com.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Seeking Ideas on Causes to Support this Holiday...

We're finishing up plans for a holiday initiative that will make it easier than ever to bring a little Tomgirl adventure into your lives in 2010. And we’re seeking your input and ideas in finalizing one integral element of this program: giving back, by way of supporting charities for causes near and dear to Tomgirl Tours--like education, preservation and women's health.

It's been a difficult year for many non-profits and we want to not only help, but also help you help. Like adventure travel, doing what we can to make a difference in the wider world is quite empowering--to both giver and receiver.

We have a couple organizations already lined up, but right now we're seeking two additional causes to support with this initiative. First, an organization that makes a difference in the lives of troubled or disadvantaged girls; second, a preservation group, specifically one in a region we love to travel to on our tours: the White Mountains.

Please let us know your ideas? (and stay tuned for developments!)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tomgirl's Newest Journey: the Path to Financial Empowerment

Personal finance has always been a passion for me. Understanding what, how, and when I need to manage my money in order to have a secure, healthy and comfortable lifestyle makes me feel good about myself, my family and my life situation. It's a great feeling to get to a point where you aren't worrying about credit card debt and your ability to the pay the mortgage on time but rather to focus on the things we need to do to proactively create wealth - small or large wealth; either way, it doesn't matter... what matters is thinking and planning. I've educated myself in many ways, and one of my favorite sources of information is Suze Orman, but I--like many women--could have used more proactive help over the years.

Enter Tomgirl Tours' newest tour feature: financial planning workshops on our Vermont tours next year. You might be asking yourself: “Financial planning and adventure travel?” Well, this workshop will be less like a “typical” financial planning seminar than like an adventure in itself.

My partners in this are Ameriprise advisors Chris Hager and Chris Di Fronzo, who are going about this with a unique approach - we are going to start with your dreams and desires and set about creating your wealth vision. Huh? What is that? Your wealth vision gives you the chance to "dream" about what you really want (I mean, what do you really, really want? A farm house in the woods; a cupcake truck business in the summer? More time with family?) In this area we'll help you to create your dream board. From there, Chris and Chris will go through the steps of planning and executing each aspect necessary to meet your vision. We will talk about things like passive and passionate income; tax avoidance strategies; wealth protection and the usual stuff like stocks, bonds and insurance... After all, a goal starts with an end result in mind (and on paper) and the clarity of purpose and actions to make it come true.

I’m excited about these sessions and helping other women dream, plan and execute their futures - ones that hold security, comfort and the wonderful feeling of empowerment that planning and taking action gives to us.

Money grows exponentially and so can we!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Get Outdoors and Do Your Mind (and body) Good

On these absolutely picture-perfect New England autumn days, when the blue skies and crisp air beckons, it can be hard to focus on work (especially for tomgirls like me!). As we tend to the business of planning and preparing for our upcoming tours, I keep looking out the window and thinking about why nature and outdoor activities are such a lure. I know why I am personally drawn to them but, given that Tomgirl Tours focuses on exhilarating adventure in the great outdoors, I poked around a bit online--in the name of business research, of course--and found some interesting reports on exactly why outdoor adventures like our tours aren't just good for fun, but actually excellent for your health.

According to this report from Kent State University: Outdoor recreation has psychological benefits, including the prevention or reduction of stress; improved self-esteem, confidence and creativity; spiritual growth; and an increased sense of exhilaration, adventure and challenge from life.

This study, meanwhile, shows not only the individual mental and physical benefits of outdoor recreation, but also how getting outdoors with friends and family builds and strengthens bonds (exactly what we always say!)

Finally, the Public Health Agency of Canada offers this about physical activity: [it] allows daily tasks to be accomplished with greater ease and comfort and with less fatigue.

So, if you'll pardon me, I'm heading out into the sunshine now... some might call it playing hooky, but I call it doing my body (and mind) good.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What You Need to Know About Adventure Travel

Thanks to everyone for attending our Adventure Travel 101 webinar on Wednesday. What fun to connect with fellow adventure lovers! I especially enjoyed sharing some of the reasons why adventure travel first appealed to me, then inspired such passion that I founded Tomgirl Tours. Those reasons? Well, much more than just the adrenaline rush of stepping off a zip line platform or ascending into the heavens in a hot air balloon, adventure travel:
  • Allows you to engage in the world around you
  • Provides empowering, hands-on experiences
  • Stretches your boundaries and helps build confidence
  • Gets you to explore new destinations
  • Creates memories to last a life time
and, perhaps most importantly,
  • Is a bonding experience during which you build lasting friendships.
Webinar attendees, meanwhile, were especially interested in learning about what they need to consider before booking an adventure tour. Important points for those who are venturing into the unknown, so I wanted to share some of the key considerations we discussed:
  1. Understand your travel goals and desires
  2. Think about what destinations get you excited
  3. Decide what activities you want to experience
  4. Learn about tour operators like Tomgirl Tours and be sure that they are experienced and have researched all adventure elements of the tours. (I, for example, will not schedule a tour without experiencing each activity to ensure the safety and experience of guides)
  5. Seek expert advice (i.e., a travel agent you trust)
An adventure vacation can be one of the greatest experiences of someone's life. My goal is to ensure that it is! So, if you missed the webinar or have any questions, I'm here to help!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Intrigued But Intimidated by "Adventure Travel"? Read On...

I started working with Lori Carr and Tomgirl Tours in May, when my agency, Miamore Communications, became the company's public relations agency. In the four months since, I've been lucky to learn SO much about the exciting adventure travel niche... because, to be honest, when I first heard "adventure" in relation to "vacations" for women, I naturally (and very much erroneously) imagined women jumping out of planes, rock climbing (when the ground was nowhere in sight) and other--in my imagination, daredevil--activities. While I was, personally, very much the quintessential tomboy growing up (the only "son" of a man with only two daughters, as my family jokes), the term "adventure travel" intrigued me, yet made me squeamish.

Flash forward to the present day and I understand the levels of adventure travel ("hard" vs. "soft") and especially appreciate Lori's brand of adventure at Tomgirl Tours--"mildly adventurous", as we describe it--exhilarating and empowering, yet entirely safe (and balanced with some girly elements... like spas, upscale hotels, the finest cuisine, and cultural experiences).

Having been now enlightened by Tomgirl Tours, and having done extensive research this wildly popular travel niche (one of the fastest growing segments of travel, according to industry research), I now see on other women's faces the familiar hesitation/misunderstanding/curiosity I experienced when I first met Lori last spring. And that is why I can not recommend enough the Webinar that Lori and fellow adventure-loving travel expert Ann Petronio (owner of Annie's Escapes travel agency) will host next week, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. (EST). In 30 minutes, Lori and Ann will explain the levels of adventure available and educate women on how to choose the correct tour operator and travel planner to ensure the biggest concerns: comfort and safety. This pair of travel adventure dynamos also will spend additional time answering any and all questions you might have. (And, as an insider tip: Tomgirl will have some special discount incentives for those who attend!)

If you are like me, and you love adventure but aren't quite sure what the heck "adventure travel" entails? Well, I can only say that the Adventure Travel 101: Demystifying Adventure Webinar will be well worth the 30 minutes. For registration, see the link at right, or click here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hope to See You in Hartford This Weekend!

What a beautiful Labor Day weekend we enjoyed here in Rhode Island. And, as it winds down, I'm just as excited about this weekend--the 7th Annual Connecticut Women's Expo in Hartford, Conn. Tomgirl Tours will be exhibiting at the expo for the first time, and we can't wait to meet all the tomgirls in our neighboring state!

The expo is open Saturday, Sept. 12 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 13, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Connecticut Expo Center (click here for directions). The expo features products and services ranging from fashion and beauty, to health and nutrition, to financial planning and education. The highlight, however, will be at booth 324: Tomgirl Tours. I hope you'll come by and say hello... we're offering some special offers for Expo attendees, including raffles to win discounts on Tomgirl's adventure tours and merchandise, and special pricing on our upcoming tours for anyone who signs up at the Expo.

Admission to the Expo is $10 at the door, but email me and I'd be happy to send you a free pass.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tomgirl Empowers Women (Physically and Financially)



(transitive verb)

to promote the self-actualization or influence of...

We're always talking about the fun, the laughter and the breath-taking scenery and adventure of Tomgirl Tours. One thing we (and travelers) don't often verbalize, but which has been on my mind lately, is how these experiences empower women. And I don't use that word lightly. Take, for example, just a few of our recent Tomgirl guests who have commented on this blog:

"What they offer... should be considered a public service... I encourage all cancer survivors to take off your wig, put on a helmet, and change your perception of yourself." --Carol

"Thank you so much, Lori, for putting together a wonderful package of fun and adventure that helped get me out of my way-too-restrictive comfort zone!!" --Lisa

So, to complement the physical and mental empowerment our brand of adventure offers to travelers, I'm very excited about a special feature of our November Red Rock Rendezvous in Sedona, Ariz. (click here for additional 2010 dates). I've teamed up with Edward Jones financial planner Kira Golden to offer Tomgirl guests an optional financially empowering element on these Sedona tours. Golden will guide guests who choose to participate (no extra cost) through financial visioning, planning and execution strategies; including risk exposure, investment policies, legacy planning, tax minimization tools, and passive or passion income streams. (Meanwhile, Tomgirl is in talks with a couple of our favorite New England financial planners to possibly do something similar on our tours in this region).

What better time to clearly visualize our dreams and goals than while feeling our adrenaline pump on an outdoor adventure--perhaps as you step off a zip line platform and realize that you really can accomplish anything... physically or financially... if you are willing to take that leap of faith in yourself.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Let Us Answer Your Adventure Travel Questions

“Adventure” is like the words wealthy, attractive, or intelligent: its meaning is almost always relative to the speaker or the audience. To some, an “adventure” getaway entails journeying to a hotel that doesn’t have an in-house spa. To others, it requires jumping out of a plane.

In travel circles we use the adjectives hard (like Bungee jumping or white water rafting) and soft (bird watching or culinary tours), to help define the level of adventure. But activities in the two categories swing to extremes, begging the question: what about someone who might want to try something that gets her heart pumping a bit, but isn’t quite ready for a vertical ice climb?

For starters, you fit into the Tomgirl category. And for that category we’ve coined the term “mildly adventurous.” What does that mean? Well, as you’ve seen here on our blog, our activities range from zip-lining and indoor skydiving, to ropes courses and Segway riding.

Mild adventure is our style and, as such, we’re working on our upcoming webinar, Adventure Travel 101, to help explain the differences in adventure excursions, answer questions would-be Tomgirls have, and ease the minds of anyone who has considered an adventure tour, but is still hesitating.

During the Webinar Ann Petronio of Annie’s Escapes and I will answer questions about how to plan an adventure vacation and provide food for thought on choosing the right tour (addressing topics like travel goals, destination choices, desired activities and budget planning).

But we know there are other questions out there so, throw ‘em at us and we’ll be sure to address your queries. Have you taken an adventure vacation? What was your experience? If you haven’t yet experienced an adventure tour, what questions or concerns have stopped you? Do you have fears about the level of adventure or fitness required to participate? Do you wonder about the safety of the activities?

Feel free to post any questions in the comment section here or email them directly to me: lori@tomgirltours.

The Webinar is Sept. 23; we’ll have registration available next week but, if you’d like advance information, just let me know!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It's Official! Tomgirl Has a New Tour Package for 2010: Gorgeous Vermont!

As I’m sure you could tell from all our posts about the trip to Vermont, we absolutely loved the Essex resort, the area, and, especially, the adventure experiences. So, I’m happy to announce that Tomgirl Tours has officially included a Green Mountains Getaway to our 2010 menu of tours (check out our website for details on this and all our 2009 and 2010 tours)! We hope you’ll join us for the ropes course, the zip-line, the hot air ballooning, the Segway experience, the phenomenal New England scenery and, of course (this is a Tomgirl tour, afterall!): the amazing culinary experiences, top-flight spa pampering, and immersion into the local culture. Speaking of those last items, here’s a few photos from our trip last week—both of the incredible spa at the Essex and of the postcard-perfect villages and countryside in the area.

First, the spa at the Essex: the décor sets the immediate tone for this relaxing and luxurious environment, providing the perfect end to a perfect few adventure-filled days at the Essex. The colors, the aromas of the incredible products and relaxing music put me into the right frame of mind for a great signature massage... My only complaint? That the 80 minutes flew by like 10! (I definitely plan to spend more time in the spa during my next trip!)

Now onto the other gems we discovered (and will share with our Tomgirl guests on the Green Mountain Getaway tours): Shelburne Farm, a beautiful and historic former Vanderbilt estate, is situated on Lake Champlain and serves as the home of our wine and cheese tastings during the Green Mountain Getaway tours in 2010.

Finally, on the leisurely drive back to my home in Rhode Island, we had the good fortune of traveling through gorgeous Woodstock, Vt. The incredible two lane roads with picturesque views were like stepping back to a simpler time - this beautiful, quaint covered bridge punctuated the area’s charm.

As we drove through the center of Woodstock, I had to stop and photograph this quaint building with their fences covered in beautifully blooming flowers of all colors.

Indeed, the drive was almost as much fun as the adventure tour... almost.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Videos from Vermont... Check Out the Action!

We've returned from our fabulous Vermont adventure (and are still savoring the fun!). Here's a peek at Carol and I in action the past few days at the Essex in Burlington...

My Segway trip through the park near Lake Champlain, what a great way to enjoy a fantastic day in beautiful downtown Burlington Vt.

Carol rope climbing and making her way to the top platform at Northern Lights (no easy task!)

Carol takes a break and bursts out laughing – she is so happy to be back on stable ground (42 feet in the air on a platform, that is)!

Then it was on to the next part of the adventure, where Carol took her first zip line to the base.

Lori makes her way to the top on the ropes while posing for photos for Charlie King, the summer resident photographer at The Essex.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Update from Vermont! On the Ropes and Climbing the Wall

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I agree! So, what better way to explain the adventures Tomgirl is enjoying at the Essex in Vermont than with these photos... (more to come later!)

Our wonderful guides, Tommy and Frank

Carol and I climbing

Me, flying!

Here I am on the ropes

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Greetings from Gorgeous Vermont and the Essex Resort!

What a beautiful summer day in gorgeous northern New England! Today, I traveled with friend and tour operator Carol Conley from Rhode Island to Vermont to check out a possible 2010 Tomgirl tour at the Essex resort and spa, in the Burlington area. The scenery along the way was amazing. (check out the Vermont countryside we witnessed along the way):

At our destination, the Essex, we were warmly greeted by business development director at the resort, Dave Hakins. Here are some pictures of the resort (though, really, photos don't do justice to the experience of generous hospitality and an utterly relaxing vibe at this resort):

Soon, we met Christine, the owner of Northern Lights Rock and Ice, and were whisked away by Tommy and Frank, our guides for the afternoon "ropes" adventure. (Below: Carol with our guides):

What a wonderful day! Stay tuned tomorrow for more from the rope and wall climb, hot air balloon photos and vids, and more!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Join Me in Vermont to Check Out a Possible 2010 Tomgirl Tour!

We've been busy planning our 2010 tours and tomorrow I'm off to Vermont for a few days to investigate the Essex, a culinary resort and spa in lovely Burlington, Vt. On my itinerary as possible elements of a 2010 Tomgirl tour: a ropes and rock climbing course, a tour of Lake Champlain, a hot air balloon ride and a sampling of the resort's spa offerings. The mix is right up our alley: outdoor adventure, fine cuisine (the Essex is home to the New England Culinary Institute), upscale accommodations, beautiful surroundings, and a touch of girly pampering.

Stay tuned for some action blogs the next few days as I report back on this possible tour. If you have any thoughts, do share; as always, I love hearing from you!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Curious About Adventure Travel? Read On…

Okay, what exactly is “adventure” travel? Heard the buzz and wonder what it entails (and if it is for you)? If so, you aren’t alone. We hear those questions a lot at Tomgirl Tours. So, to answer them, this September I’ll be hosting a webinar “Adventure Travel Demystified,” along with travel agent Ann Petronio of Annie’s Escapes. Ann and I decided to offer this informational webinar because so many women want to try an adventure tour but haven’t—whether due to uncertainty over the itinerary, safety, or required fitness levels (short answer on the latter: if you can walk a couple of miles, you’ll be just fine on a Tomgirl tour!). Our goal with this webinar is to debunk people’s fears of the unknown in adventure travel.

Here at Tomgirl, for example, we focus on “soft adventure”: we’re not climbing glaciers, but we’re not spending our tours indoors getting manicures either (although we do understand that a girl wants to be pampered, and add a touch of that to every tour!). Our recent White Mountain Adventure excursion in New Hampshire is the epitome of soft adventure: a zip line canopy tour and indoor skydiving lesson, balanced by a morning of shopping in the heart of North Conway.

Right now, we’re in the planning stages for the webinar, figuring out which of the many questions about adventure travel we should really tackle. Any subjects you’d like us to address? I’d love to hear from you (feel free to comment or send us an email directly). The webinar is slated for September 23, so you can get started on figuring out your 2010 vacation with your travel consultant and tour provider. We’ll give more details and remind you again as the date approaches, but mark your calendars and please do chime in to let us know what information you’d like to hear about in the webinar.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Providence's Magical Waterfire, A Bonus for Savory City Travelers!

Saturday was a Waterfire evening here in Providence and I, along with my son Jesse (see, right) and some friends, was lucky enough to be there (videos below). What magic! Those of you who have been to a Waterfire know it is nearly impossible to describe the experience in words. For those who may not have heard of Waterfire, it is an event that takes place several times each summer in beautiful, historic downtown Providence, R.I. Waterfire features one hundred sparkling bonfires, the fragrant scent of aromatic wood smoke, flickering firelight on the city's arched bridges, torch-lit vessels traveling down the river, and enchanting music from around the world (click here for more). While I live here in Providence, whenever I go, I am somehow surprised again by the experience. I'm not at all surprised, however, that National Geographic Traveler magazine has named it one of only 20 "must-see" events in the United States! (For the first-hand experience of a first-time attendee, a writer from Travel Writer's
magazine click here).

So, as I continue to savor my Waterfire experience, I could not be more thrilled that our final Savory City ~ Providence tour (Sept. 18-20) falls on a Waterfire weekend! Meaning: anyone lucky enough (and quick enough!) to book one of the coveted remaining spots on that tour will not only dine at Providence's fabulous Italian Federal Hill restaurants
(more on that later!), learn how to prepare local cuisine during an al fresco cooking class, and take a day trip to gorgeous Newport, R.I., but they will also experience the unique magic of Waterfire! (Waterfire weekends regularly draw 70,000+ visitors and sell out hotel rooms throughout the city). What a fabulous weekend it will be! Hope to see you then...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Shout-Out and a BIG Thank You to Our Media Friends

As we were ziplining, indoor skydiving, and generally being Tomgirls on our White Mountains Adventure, several prominent media were featuring Tomgirl Tours last weekend. Wow. Thanks so much to both nationally syndicated radio travel guru Stephanie Abrams (listen here) and travel writer Terecille Basa-Ong at the (NJ) Record (read here). We couldn't be happier!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Next Up: A Culinary Adventure in Providence!

We are all still smiling and talking about our adventure in New Hampshire, so here are a few more videos

Lisa's fun zip:

Tomgirls on the bridge:

Caroline rappelling:

But now, it's time to shift gears to the upcoming Savory City
Tours in Providence, R.I. - two amazing culinary adventures. I am
especially excited about the September 18-20 tour because it includes an amazing Providence WaterFire where tens of thousands of people converge to see this series of bonfires installed on the three rivers of downtown Providence. National Geographic Traveler named it one of the 20 “must see” events in the U.S. and we are hoping to see folks from the many nearby (or far away) U.S. cities that have direct flights right into Providence. We would love to see you, too!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Action Video from Our White Mountains Adventure!

You saw the photos, now videos of our tomgirls in action on the zipline Sunday! First Thea, then Vicki...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tomgirls on an Indoor Skydiving Adventure!

Another great day! After a little shopping in downtown North Conway  (Tomgirl guest Lisa Nelson bought the cutest stuffed moose... and we are not sure yet if it's for her grandson or if she is going to keep it :-)  Vicki Malchar, meanwhile, found her aviator sport pants - finally, yeah!  

We arrived at Skyventure at around 2 p.m. and quickly went into our "aviator" class, suited up (including helmets, goggles, and ear plugs) and 

headed into the wind tunnel.  We had an incredible time - especially Tomgirl traveler Thea Zumwalt, who laughed the entire time she was in the tunnel.  In fact her continued giggling (and screaming) made all the staff start laughing as well.  You made a very positive impact Thea!  Vicki had great form  - maybe she was a ballerina as a child?! We think - dare we say it - that Lisa has overcome her fear of heights!  She soared with her wind tunnel trainer nearly to the top.  Tomgirl's intern Caroline Oppel was a smooth operator in the tunnel and she kept us clapping and laughing with her performance. What an amazing day! (That's me, above, in the wind tunnel)

Thanks for following us on Tomgirl ToursWhite Mountain Adventure! We're home safe and sound now and will share video and more photos here in the next few days. Meanwhile, check out upcoming dates on our website... there are three more White Mountains Adventure tours this year!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

An Exhilarating Zip = Happy Tomgirls

As Day 1 of our White Mountains Adventure comes to a close, we are a happy group of tomgirls here in New Hampshire! The zip in Bretton Woods was an exhilarating experience enjoyed by all; here are a few photos of our guests gearing up earlier today (more to come, along with video, later this week!) Tomorrow we'll continue the excitement as we give indoor skydiving a shot. Stay tuned for more on that tomorrow. 

Tomgirls and friends ready to zip!

Safety First

Gearing up...

Ready to go!

Our fantastic guides, Bobby and Steve

Greetings from New Hampshire!

We've arrived in New Hampshire and enjoyed lunch at the beautiful Mount Washington Resort. Here's a glimpse of this beautiful hotel and the gorgeous view we're enjoying. This afternoon, we are off to zip line and are all very excited. More later from our White Mountains Adventure!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

And, We're Off! (On our White Mountains Adventure)

We are all ready to hit the road for Tomgirl Tours' White Mountains Adventure in New Hampshire tomorrow and everyone is very excited! We have folks flying in from the Washington, D.C. area and several others coming from different parts of Rhode Island. It looks like we are going to have perfect weather if the forecast holds up! (Which was not the case mid week and had me fretting).  

I was up in New Hampshire last weekend and, with all the rain we've had in New England recently, it was the most plush, green scenery I've experienced in years - just gorgeous!  

We're bringing along our newest tech gadget - the Flip Video - so we can capture our zip lining experience "in motion"... the perfect memento for guests to receive as part of their tour experience (and for us to share here on Travel for Tomgirls).  Stay tuned to the blog, as we'll be posting photos and sharing stories from our trip as they happen this weekend. We can't wait to hear your comments and feedback! 

So, until tomorrow, have a great day and we'll "see" you after the zip!

Monday, July 6, 2009


Hello, and welcome to Travel for Tomgirls!

You may be asking yourself: what, exactly, is a tomgirl? As the self-proclaimed ultimate Tomgirl, let me explain: Tomgirls love the outdoors, nature and adventure; they love to explore the world—they zip line through the forest, hot air balloon above the Arizona desert, and seek out culinary expeditions and fresh local cuisine when they travel. Tomgirls enjoy challenges, yet they balance it out with some pampering and “girly” activities - like messages, private art tours, or a bit of shopping.

So, what makes me the ultimate Tomgirl? Well, I grew up on a New England farm with five older brothers and two sisters and spent my youth swimming, fishing and endlessly exploring the forests and ocean. With a childhood like that, I was hooked on nature and the outdoors from an early age. From the farm, I headed to the city in search for new adventures. I spent 25 years as a corporate executive where customer service and travel refined my tastes and broadened my perspective.

I found myself questioning: how does one blend these different interests--outdoors; nature; adventure; boutique, upscale and refined--into a new vocation that includes it all? Well, I started with a sabbatical from the corporate world and, after reflection on those passions and talents, I founded Tomgirl Tours, which has become the natural extension of both. As the CEO of Tomgirl Tours, I get to use my business and service expertise to create memorable adventure travel excursions for active women like me who love travel, adventure and the outdoors. 

I’m so excited to be here blogging… sharing my love for adventure travel and new culinary experiences with others who love to do the same. If you love adventure, but haven't had enough of it lately, then you've found the perfect person to help you get outdoors.  On Travel For Tomgirls, we'll talk about travel insights, personal adventure and culinary experiences, and share every exciting Tomgirl Tours journey. I can’t wait to meet all the wonderful adventurers here in the blogosphere, and hope to meet you in person on one of our Tomgirl Tours sometime soon!