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    Mancations becoming more popular

    BOULDER, Colo. -- Cam Caldwell, 51, says he packs like a woman when he vacations like a man.

    When he and his buddies are road-tripping, Caldwell says he will keep piling clothes, food and alcohol into the car until every last crevasse is filled.

    Caldwell brings "party clothes," athletic clothes, lounge clothes and layers for all weather conditions, even when it's just the guys. Especially when it's the guys, he brings his favorite microbrews, an eclectic selection of India Pale Ales.

    Good beer, good clothes and, of course, good company, are Caldwell's key to pulling off a kickin' guy trip.

    The Westminster man plans trips with his friends together several times a year -- to Vail, West Virginia, the Colorado mountains, Las Vegas and New Mexico. The list goes on; Caldwell has been guy-tripping since 1984, when he celebrated his college graduation on a four-day backpacking and fishing trip through Rocky Mountain National Park.

    Some people have started calling it a "mancation" -- a man vacation, which typically includes outdoor adventures, sports, bar-hopping, cigar-puffing, gambling, tents, fishing poles and beer. No girls allowed. You might recognize the term from the movie, "The Break-Up." Thank you, Vince Vaughn.

    Although mancations -- uh, let's just call them guy trips -- aren't a new phenomenon, travel agencies and businesses have latched on to new term. Web sites call mancations the tourism industry's "hottest new venture."

    Several years ago, the industry was all about girl trips: spa packages, mud baths with your girls, yoga trips, according to Mary Ann Mahoney, with the Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau.

    But lately, Mahoney says she's been getting more calls from guys who are traveling to Boulder looking for suggestions on outdoor recreation, popular pubs and even (brace yourself) the best dude-friendly stores to shop at.

    Mahoney says she recently spent so much time on the phone with a man who was organizing a trip that the Boulder Visitors Bureau compiled an official list of recommended activities for guy travelers.

    On the list: renting bicycles, hiring a rock-climbing guide, renting Harley-Davidson motorcycles, hitting up Johnny's Cigar Bar and refueling at the Lazy Dog Sports Bar and Grill.

    Erik Wallace, of Ohio, recently made Boulder his guy-trip bull's eye. Wallace, 27, and four friends met in Boulder last fall for their annual vacation, after a college buddy, Jeff Purton, moved here. They played sports, went climbing and bouldering, went biking and hit up bars around Pearl Street. He says the trips keep his Ohio University friends connected after they graduated and moved to different states.

    Wallace says traveling with his friends is "quite different" than with his wife.

    "We typically go climbing or hiking or definitely something outdoors, and then bar-hopping," Wallace says. "It's nothing women don't do, obviously, but when my wife and I go on vacation, it tends to be a little more relaxing."

    A market for mancations

    Guy trips, in one form or another, generate an estimated $10 to $12 billion a year, according to an online survey by the travel Web site, I'm In!

    About one-third of the men surveyed said they'd taken a guy trip in the past year. Nearly 70 percent of those men said they guy-trip at least twice a year. More than half said they'd rather travel with a bunch of friends than attend a family reunion.

    The Web site estimates that's about 20 million mancaters a year.

    And the hype continues to grow, according to John Pentecost, the owner of Guy-Trips.com. Pentecost, of Portland, Maine, helped set up parties in college for his fraternity, so when he graduated, he kept the get-togethers going to keep his friends tight.

    He says he learned the ropes personally and decided to turn it into a business two years ago, shortly before the "mancation" fad exploded, he says. He has since organized bachelor parties in Vegas and is helping guys from across the nation plan flyfishing trips, horseback-riding excursions and a father-son gathering. He says he offers his clients "insider knowledge" of cool bars, and he spares them the hassle of coordinating schedules and transportation.

    Oh, and he doesn't call them "mancations."

    "That's the lamest word I've ever heard in my life," Pentecost says.

    Why guy trip?

    Darren Hitz, of Detroit, the founder of HitzAdventures.com, says about 80 percent of his events are bachelor parties. He brings groups on three-day adventure trips in more than 25 cities cross the nation.

    He attributes his growing business to the "larger role" that women are playing in bachelor parties. In other words, no strip clubs.

    Also, the fitness craze and a desire to connect with nature has more guys traveling together, Hitz says.

    But he attributes a large chunk of the whole "mancation" trend to a public-relations stint.

    "You see people who talk about resorts -- 'We got this mancation where you play golf, ride Formula Ones' -- no one books these trips. They charge like $5,000 for these things," he says. "It's like the company that created the $100 hamburger. It's meant to get PR, but a lot of guys don't do these."

    He says he aims to keep his trips between $300 and $500 per person, which he thinks is more realistic. He cites a recent study that found the average man spends $280 on a bachelor party.

    Nathan Whitney, 28, says the purpose of his guy trips is to keep the bond between him and his buddies from Fairview High School. Whitney and a core of about eight Boulder guys started traveling together after high school, with every year increasing frequency -- and "magnitude," as they earn more money.

    Whitney, who is single, and his friends -- about half are single and none is married -- now meet up about every other month for a few days. Mid-May, they stayed in the "bowling pin suite" in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Vegas. That's the massive top-floor room with its own bowling alley, pool table, Jacuzzi and 24-hour private bar.

    For the Fairview group's next guy trip in July, they rented a 14,000-square-foot, 30-room mansion and three boats to hit up Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.

    "We do this because we're like brothers. We love each other so much, we want to keep a bond," Whitney says.

    He epitomizes the so-called "Friends" generation, people 35 and younger, who spend more time with friends, settle down later and who are travel-savvy.

    Whitney has even made a business out of guy trips. He bought an RV and rents it for parties, transportation and tailgating. Earlier this year, he organized a Superbowl football party for ten men in their early 40s from Chicago.

    Whitney says he thinks guy trips are more common today than when his parents were younger, because it's easier to stay in touch via e-mail and cell phones.

    Plus, with high divorce rates, "Guys want to stick with guys and girls with girls," Whitney says. "It's security. Your buddies are always going to be there, no matter what."

  2. #2
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    I'm guilty of this. I guy trip once a year. This year were going backpacking in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana for 14 days. The big difference is that none of us bring all them clothes. We live on 2 shirts, 1 pair of pants, 2 pairs of underwear and the very minimum for the whole trip. Then after the trip we hang out at a nice hotel drinking fine wines and Scotch and puffing cigars.

    Fun times!!
    Just because your sign off after you're shift is done, doesn't mean that it's over and put blinders on. You're a cop 24/7 wether you like it or not. If thats something you can't handle, you should find a new line of work!

 

 

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