Last winter on the Big Island of Hawaii, before volcanic eruptions changed everything there, Tracy Blesi of Blaine stepped from her cabin at night, joined other women for a short walk in the dark to a volcano overlook and saw the earth glow. Clouds above the small group reflected an eerie orange. Then the volcano belched, roiling its lava before settling down again.

“I could hear everyone gasp around me,” Blesi said. “It was almost a spiritual moment.”

That memorable experience is just the kind that Blesi hopes to continue providing women. Late last year, she and co-founder Kimberly Case launched Women on the Grow, a travel company devoted to getting women out in the world, taking trips together.

Why a travel company that caters only to women?

“That’s exactly what women want,” Blesi said.

She’s heard from women who want to travel but have a reluctant spouse or friends who can’t afford a trip. Others are afraid to go solo. Her company offers affordable, women-only trips to ease the way.

Women on the Grow trips are designed to be casual, with a focus on local, inexpensive and authentic experiences. Small locally owned hotels win out over big-name hotels with spas and swimming pools.

The eight-day trip to Kauai in February costs $2,285, airfare not included. Snorkeling, hiking and a visit to a coffee plantation are on the itinerary; a few nights will be spent in state park cabins. Its autumn trip to Nova Scotia includes lunch at a farmers market, dinner in a lighthouse and hearing fiddle music at a local pub.

Blesi, who still holds down a job as a restaurant manager, and Case want to empower women to travel.

“We want them to see the beauty of the world, experience different cultures, eat new foods, to grow. That’s why we gave the company its name,” Blesi said. Learn more at womenonthegrow.us or 612-504-0066.

 

Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.