By Penny Carroll @@pencarroll13 Jun 2017Research by TripAdvisor found that one in three female Aussie travellers hit the road solo, so it’s no surprise that women’s-only retreats and holidays are on the rise. They’re designed to make women feel relaxed and safe, at a time when they might feel particularly vulnerable – alone and out of their comfort zone in a foreign country. My experience at a women’s-only haven in Bali was just that, and then some. It doesn’t have to be all eat, pray, love… Though it could be fun. I reckon girls-only getaways are a great stepping-stone for those nervous about solo travel, not least because they come with a ready-made squad to rival Taylor Swift’s. But, like anything in life, there’s always a flipside… Here’s my no-BS take on what to expect at a retreat just for the ladies. Instant travel buddies Escape Haven, Bali If you’re new to solo travel, you’re probably freaking out about mealtimes. As in, who will you share them with? Will you actually have to ask for a table for one? On a boutique retreat, this stress is totally sorted. Even if you’re doing your own thing during the day, you can expect to come together at dinner time to share a meal, talk about your adventures and hatch plans. I’ve witnessed impromptu shopping trips come to life, best friendships form and the shyest women blossom in this supportive space. The catch? If you’re ‘retreating’ with your bestie, sister or mum, you might miss the opportunity to really challenge yourself by chatting to new people. It’s tempting to play it safe and hang with your BFF only, or if you’re travelling alone, to make one good friend in the group and stick to her side for the whole trip. For the full, rewarding experience of solo travel, you have to stretch your limits. Think about whether a girls-only retreat will do that for you, or if you’re ready for a bigger push. Alone time So, you’ve got a week at a retreat in the diary and you’re expecting maximum alone time to reset and recharge. Better pack your boundaries, because unless you’re firm about needing your space, you may not get the solitude you crave. Thanks to that inclusive culture mentioned above, you’ll probably have a long list of offers to politely refuse if you’re intent on enjoying your own company, from people who want to tag along on your trips into town to those who just want to chat idly by the pool. The good news is, even the most introverted tend to tire of their own reflection eventually – and there’ll be a welcoming gang of girls to entertain and engage you when you hit that point. Safe space Pelan, Pelan Retreat, Bali Maybe you want to learn to surf, heal from a life hiccup, get fit or simply sunbake by an Insta-worthy pool. Sometimes, you don’t feel easy about stripping off, discussing a recent heartbreak or practising a new skill in front of a cast of dudes. That’s cool – and that’s partly why women’s holidays exist. They allow chicks a chance to explore and relax away from the ‘male gaze’ – a huge bonus if you’ve reached peak Tinder fatigue. Female energy Surf Getaways in Byron Bay Spending a week with a bunch of bold, adventurous, like-minded women is a uniquely inspiring experience. You’ll make new friends from around the globe, laugh until your abs hurt and connect on a gazillion different levels, while celebrating the goddess that you are. But, hey, we all need a little yang with our yin. If you spend loads of time with women in your normal life, then go on to share your precious holiday time with another bunch of (fearless, fun-loving) females, it’s just about possible that you’ll find a girls-only retreat a little challenging to your sense of sisterhood. Try working on your masculine energies by meditating on your sacral chakra (kidding! Kind of…). Seriously though, it might just be the little break you need to rediscover your appreciation for the men in your life. There’s a lot to love about retreats designed just for women – mainly that kids, worries, work and responsibilities are left behind along with the guys, leaving you blissfully free to focus on – and maybe even find – yourself. Have you tried one before? Let us know your take on the girls-only travel trend below. Other stories you may like Travel Agents can now book commissionable tours through TripAdvisor TripAdvisor could make hotel room service obsolete with a delicious Deliveroo partnership Which airline did TripAdvisor users vote in as the ‘best’ worldwide?