How Friendcation Mastered Women’s Travel – Friends, Fun, and Fulfilment


Unforgettable memories, swank destinations, personal fulfilment, and a tremendous dose of fun. There is no better way to describe the 20 000+ strong, Friendcation community, focussed on activity-based women’s travel. Friends, new and old, elevate the experience to a journey of deeper resonance. Let’s join the party!

“The best thing that came out of the relationship with my ex, turned out to be Louise!” – Joanna

8 years ago, Joanna Swica and Louise Johannesson became friends. In 2017 they started Friendcation, in the same spot I am meeting them now, the Winery Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden. Their success with building a travel community for women is a testament to a strong friendship based on a mutual love for trips and adventure. Their bubbly personalities, positivity and enthusiasm seals the deal within the first minute of the interview. I will join one of their spectacular journeys.

This is what travel should be about. Joy, passion, and the company of like-minded individuals. Women juggling career and family increasingly choose travel to recharge, unwind, or to pursue a personal interest, whether it be fitness, food and wine, or adventure, or simply as an investment in themselves.

Two women sitting on the ground in white sweaters and sandals, with a big rock in the background.
Louise Johannesson and Joanna Swica – Founders of Friendcation


The average age of women in the community is 30-35, often trying to answer questions like who am I and what do I want? With rich social lives and family, prioritising and finding time to pursue joint interests with existing friends can seem a daunting task. Friendcation is about you not compromising, instead choosing to enrich yourself. Meeting like-minded people comes as a bonus. Friendships have blossomed during Friendcations, Joanna and Louise point out. Some even return to the same spot every year, for example, the training trip to Greece.

Higher earning and spending power has resulted in women influencing the direction of the travel industry. In fact, women make the vast majority of all travel related decisions, often the “project leader” in a family setting. But as Joanna says;

“Sometimes it’s nice to arrive at the airport with your passport and then let someone else handle everything.”

Enter Friendcation. Travel centred around themes and destinations, a chance for deeper connections, and meaningful pursuits. It is clear Joanna and Louise tapped a market waiting to explode, and with their respective backgrounds, it’s no fluke Friendcation trips sell out in minutes. How do they do it?

Group of women sitting at outdoor tables for a meal and celebration.
40 Women from the Friendcation Community. Lemnos, Greece.


Community before Product

“People wanted to meet. We provided the outlet.” – Louise

During the pandemic, the yearning for IRL human connections made travelling a much desired pursuit once authorities lifted the restrictions. For Friendcation, their vibrant community kept the spirit alive amid the Covid-19 induced lull.

Both Joanna and Louise have lived abroad and want the same things in life. They are quick to finish each other’s sentences and use similar expressions. This connection is at the core of their venture. They travel together as friends and as business partners to scout for new locations.

Their deep research includes finding unique places to visit, select invites, and special access to hotels, restaurants, and activities, all to give their members the ultimate experience. They know the best spots to take pictures, where to eat, and how to make a group of travellers thrive together. The hard work meant others wanted in on their itineraries and travel tips, as noted in their respective networks on social media.

Group of women practicing meditation outdoors.
Rise with the Balloons, Cappadocia, Turkey


Joanna’s 2021 participation in Robinson, the Swedish reality tv-show (Survivor in international markets), her fame as a fitness profile, and Louise’s background with digital marketing at Absolut Vodka, makes the team well suited to scale the business. It didn’t come as a surprise when they disclosed that the community has grown organically through positive word of mouth.

What started with a breakfast meetup with 100 women from their Instagram connections has now evolved into a full-fledged travel platform with 1-2 organised trips per month and as many events in Sweden. They both feel the concept should work anywhere and have an ambition to grow. Herein lies an important aspect to their success. Friendcation built their product offering around an existing community with shared values and interests.

Three women with surfboards on a sunset beach.
Evening Surf. La Pared Fuerteventura, Canary Islands


What is a Friendcation?

“Each day, I’m thankful for the work we do. To have fun while working is a privilege.” – Louise

Going on a trip with Friendcation means a one stop shop for everything, flights, accommodation, and activities included in the package. But aside from convenience, additional value lies in the VIP access and special deals Joanna and Louise can secure as part of bringing happy customers to a particular destination. It makes their trips unique and sought-after. Often the places they visit opt for marketing services, where Friendcation produces content for them based on the stay.

“Everyone wants spectacular photos, so we encourage the women to bring colourful dresses where we then produce great shots in scenic spots. Everybody wins.” – Joanna


Before arrival, travellers join their dedicated Facebook groups to see who they are going to travel with, get tips on what to pack, and sometimes even meet up for an after-work. Joanna says members create a positive atmosphere and become the best ambassadors for Friendcation’s continued growth.

There is an organised agenda, suited to the particular theme, but as Louise points out, it’s the travellers’ week. They choose how much they want to be part of. There is no pressure to partake in everything. In fact, there is plenty of chill time and breaks to get ready for dinners and enjoy spontaneous moments. The most important is that members don’t leave with regrets of not having done something they wanted. Attendance for joint activities is sky high, demonstrating the need to connect and have fun.

In order to scale the business, as Joanna and Louise can’t be part of each trip, they introduced the concept of coaches, 15 at the moment, handpicked with different niches, like yoga instructor or adventure specialist. They lead the journey, and have become an appreciated aspect of the Friendcation experience and brand.

“We still do the scouting and research for upcoming trips, and then join the themes we love,” Joanna says, speaking of the occasional FOMO when she’s not travelling.

3 women sitting on the ground in a vineyard.
Tuscan Picnic amid the vines. Terreno Toscana, Italy.


Time to reflect 

One of the most cherished moments of each trip is the roundtable discussion. Participants convey why they booked, and what they want out of it. Deeper truths and big questions often come out in the open, for example; the need for a break, rejuvenation, coping with a demanding job, and relationship advice.

Sessions sometimes become intense and emotional when people share, lasting upwards of two hours. A Friendcation therefore has the potential to be more than a trip, taking on a more personal and deep dimension. It’s a forum for new relationships, a free zone, and a gift to oneself. The trips are also popular presents from husbands, who now know what to get each year, content to see their partners return happy and relaxed.


How to create the perfect Friendcation

“Despite inflation, travellers want to spend on things that deliver value, for example travel and great food.” – Joanna

I’m not surprised. Travel, done right, carries an emotional quality, impossible to put a price tag on. How can you measure the sense of accomplishment and confidence stemming from challenging yourself in new areas, testing your limits? This is what the women who choose Friendcation wish for, and it explains why Louise and Joanna don’t want to mass produce trips.

Two women posing with two husky dogs in the snow.
Heart of Lapland. Adventure travel in the north of Sweden


They go to great lengths to make sure the total experience delivers high quality, meaning, and a feel good mood. This includes restaurants with the right ambience, and activities beyond the ordinary. For example, making pasta at a private residence, or enjoying cake at a rural farm. Immersion in the local scene is part of the trip – a hallmark of deep travel.

Friendcation involves the community in choosing things to do through votes and polls. Combined with trend spotting, it ensures an always evolving program of trips and content. Highlights include surfing in Portugal, wine tasting in Tuscany, fitness in Greece, and the new kid on the block, an upcoming food tour in Palma.


Women’s Travel Experts and Friends – The Key to Friendcation

“It’s a conscious choice with quality and meaning at the forefront. Travel less, but better.” – Louise

As an entrepreneur and startup advisor, I often give the advice to create a solution that you yourself want, and feel is missing from the market. This is what Louise and Joanna did, combining their expertise in marketing with a smouldering passion for adventure. A tight friendship and joint vision helped them grow a women’s travel community who longed for an opportunity to participate in journeys that suit their interests at a time of their choosing. The chance to connect with new friends is icing on the cake.


After 7 years, the founders have become adept at designing dream trips with long-lasting memories. They model them after their own preferences. When I asked them about their favourite, I expected a Mediterranean paradise with beach clubs, sunset drinks, and live music, but it turned out to be a train trip through northern England, from Liverpool to Newcastle. New cities, a lot of research, and only the two of them.

Lately they’ve cruised the Norwegian fjords, gone on a winter expedition in the far north of Sweden where they tried activities suitable for tourists from the south, including wearing survival suits in icy conditions. The adventures never stop for the friends, their thirst to create even better women’s travel front and centre as we talk about the future.

The only question on my mind as I leave the hotel is, what trip should I go on? Maybe you will join me?

Do you travel with friends? What type of themed based travel interests you most? Let us know in the comment section! Subscribe to our newsletter and benefit from travel guides, sustainable tourism and luxury travel tips, insightful interviews, and inspirational places to visit. One Planet Journey – The World’s First Deep Travel Magazine.


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