The Rise Of Solo Female Traveling

Ora Beach Eco resort Maluku Indonesia

I traveled solo for the first time in 2006 when I went on a 6-month internship to India. It made me realize that I love it. It is not only me who likes travelling alone. More and more people are travelling solo. 24 percent of people travelled solo in 2015 compared to 15 percent in 2013 according to the Visa Global Intention Study. Especially among female millennials solo travelling is becoming more popular. A simple Google trends report on “solo female travel” shows that the interest in solo female traveling has more than tripled since 2012.

Why is this? What are these women looking for? How do women travel differently than men? What are the challenges they face? These were some of the questions that I asked myself and wanted to get answered. I didn’t only want to share my opinion, but wanted to share something based on a more in-depth research. In this blog post I reveal the answers I found based on expert research, experience of travel bloggers and my own experience.

Why more women travel solo

gunung-api-purba1Picture made by Fransisca Angela

While you might think that the typical solo traveller is single, a solo traveller these days is just as likely to have a partner. Especially among millennials solo travel is becoming more popular. “This is not a timid generation,” according to Ann Fishmann of New York University. “These are young women who are empowerd and have self-confidence as they have travelled the world with their families, or on study abroad ”.

They also have more access to travel planning resources says Steve Cohen, spokesperson of the MMGY Global Survey. This creates more confidence what to expect and how to plan.

The climate for solo travel is improving. More travel companies are adjusting their packages to people who plan to travel on their own, and some fees are being dropped, according to the NY Times.

Most of the female solo travellers are travelling solo for three main reasons: 60% say that they travel solo because it gives them the freedom to do whatever they want to do, 45% like the challenge of travelling solo and 32% travel solo because family or friends don’t have time to join them according to the Visa Global Intention Study. For me it is definitely reason number 1.

How women travel differently

The reason I travel is because I want to experience a country and get a better understanding of its culture. I want to see off the beaten track places and do a lot of research upfront to not miss out on the best places to see. Apparently I am not the only one.

The type of travel women prefer

Solo female traveler doing a cooking class in UbudA study by Lonely Planet reveals that 29% say they want to travel to explore a new destination. More than half of the people surveyed want to explore local life and immerse themselves in the culture. In contrast, only 4% of people said they travelled in search of a party or good nightlife.

Learning about local food

In line with their desire to experience new things, many solo adventure travellers are looking for unique and untouched places. Women also look for additional elements such as giving back to communities and meaningful cultural immersion experiences” says Sue Badyari of World Expeditions.

kali-suci-cavePicture made by Fransisca Angela

Also travel blogger Mapping Megan recognizes this. “Most women are looking to have “experiences” when they travel. Nowadays, women are looking for a more local, authentic experience when travelling that enrich them.”

G adventures broke down their tours by gender and noticed that more men than women book their adventure style tours that exists of hiking, cycling, kayaking, sailing, and polar expeditions while women are booking more Local Living tours.

nutmeg-saleman villagePicture made by Fransisca Angela

Women plan ahead

Forbes reports that women make 80 percent of the decisions. They also plan and research more says Bustle. According to a study conducted by the International Currency Exchange (ICE) 43 percent of women plan ahead versus 38 percent of men. Men pack within 24 hours before their departure compared to 46 percent of women. Men also feel less in a hurry to get to the airport on time and book last-minute, making plans less than one month before departure says G Adventure.

What solo travel teaches women

Solo travel taught me a lot, way more than travelling with someone else. I will share the lessons I learned and what it taught other travel bloggers.

It will boost your confidence like no way else

As travelling alone comes with the freedom of decision making and planning it will make you realize that all the great experiences you encounter are only because you created them. How great is that! You will have more courage and you will notice you became a master in problem solving.

You will encounter situations you otherwise wouldn’t

Meeting the most amazing people while traveling soloPicture made by Fransisca Angela

Travelling on your own makes us more receptive to new people and experiences. As a solo traveller you are less intimidating and easier approachable than when you travel with someone. I had the most amazing experiences because I was travelling alone; invited to someone’s home, got a private flight and ended up at a local party, to just name a few.

When I was 16 and travelling by myself to New Zealand, there was an Arabic boy next to me roughly my age. He needed help filling out the landing card but couldn’t understand the English words in the description. In the end, we completed our cards using body language and doodles. I didn’t see him afterwards, but that moment of two people laughing at a sheep poorly drawn on a tissue paper is something I will remember for a long time.

You will meet the most amazing people

Rehahn photography VietnamPicture made by Rehahn

This is related to the one described above. Due to the fact you are alone you are easier approachable and also more outgoing. You might think it would be difficult to meet people, but it is the other way around.

Sometimes I find it easier to make new friends when travelling alone than in groups. While you appear to be more approachable and outgoing, I guess it’s that sense of ‘’belonging’’ that makes us reach out to other likeminded travellers or explore new experience.

You will enjoy being by yourself

Traveling soloPicture made by Fransisca Angela

Travelling on your own comes logically with the fact that you also will be alone sometimes. This will maybe frighten some of you, but I can honestly say that I really learned to enjoy these moments being alone. It made me connect better with myself and even felt like a meditation sometimes. I really loved it! You have the freedom to be with others, but can easily withdraw if you want to. If you are travelling with someone this is a bit more challenging I think.

I personally cherish these alone moments very much. There are moments when I felt absolute peace and bliss inside me while standing on top of Montserrat. More often than not, these are the moments you will remember the most when you are travelling alone. I’m alone and yet, I’m not.

Main Fears of solo female travellers and how to overcome them

The main reasons why women are not travelling solo is because of safety issues, a fear of loneliness or because of family pressure according to a study among 1000 female travellers by travel blogger Amanda of A Dangerous Business. Is this something you recognize too? Travel blogger Kristin Addis of be My Travel Muse even created a list of the main questions many solo female travel bloggers have to answer all the time.

Safety

Safety is one of the biggest fears of many female travellers. Although this is something to pay attention to it is definitely something that you can mitigate. Pick countries that are at the top of safest countries to travel to, choose countries that are not mainly male dominated like Iceland, Finland and Sweden, make sure you dress according to the local standards and don’t stick out, be wise and avoid walking alone late at night, and make sure you keep your wallet, camera and other valuables in an inside pocket. Another country on the rise for solo female travelers is Taiwan as it ranked 3rd place among the 10 safest countries in Asia, according to a Skift Report.

Loneliness

Sand Dunes of Mui Ne Vietnam by RehahnPicture made by Rehahn

This is something every traveller has to overcome, even the ones who are extrovert and outgoing. You are definitely going to experience that it is easier than you expected. Most locals are interested in foreign faces and curious about your story and other travellers are keen to share stories, experiences and connect as well as they are in the same situation like you. Especially when you pick an accommodation like a hostel, most other travellers are easy to approach. Just be curious and ask questions, and more questions. Believe it or not, people always like to hear themselves talking 🙂

Family pressure

This is definitely not something that should you keep from travelling. They care about you, which is something wonderful, but it is their fear they project on you. Just address their fears and tell them what measurements you will take to avoid them. Keep them updated via a blog, send whatsapp messages or give them a planning where you are going to travel to.

Kiersten of The Blonde Abroad shares her best solo female travel tips.

Best Places to go for solo female travellers

saleman village cliff Ora BeachPicture made by Fransisca Angela

There has been written a lot about which places are safest for female travellers. When choosing your destination I would first pick the country that attracts me most. If you are not sure if this country is safe enough you can check the safety index of the Word Economic Forum. As you can see most of the safest countries are located in Europe, but there are also a couple of safe destinations in the Middle-East, and Asia. Surprisingly the UK is at spot number 63 after countries like Rwanda and Gambia.

El Nido PhilippinesI have travelled a lot in Asia and never felt unsafe. I have even written a post about it, my 6 best travel destinations in Asia for solo female travellers.

Best apps for solo travellers

Solo Travel app TourlinaMobile app Tourlina is designed for the solo female traveler. It is  a free app which empowers women to find a female travel companion who is visiting the same destination and shares the same interests. There is also the solotraveller app that let you also connect with like minded travellers.

Another handy app is GeoSure. It rates every city in the world with a population larger than 100.000 people covering six critical safety categories. Soon they will even rate every neighborhood as well.

PackingPro helps you with packing your stuff. It helps you what to pack, re-use a packing list for your next travel trip and is handy in case your luggage gets lost. It is only available for iOS. For non iOS users PackingList is the most popular app.

If you are still wondering if solo travel is your cup of tea then maybe the story of Esha Gupta can convince you as she travelled solo on her bike through India to convince India is safe to travel solo.

Have you travelled solo before? Any tips for those who are planning their first solo trip?

This article has been written by Cynthia Lin and Sanne Meijboom of I Like Local.

 

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