More Women Traveling Solo

April 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Travel News

Over the past two years, women have surpassed men in the statistics measuring the total number of travelers. A nearly even breakdown in 2007 has changed to a 60 to 40 percent advantage in favor of female tourists. A significant portion of that 60 percent has chosen to travel solo. Even married women are increasingly traveling alone or with girlfriends.
solo-women-travel.jpg Solo Woman Traveler © Morroia Fabrizio

The increase in women travelers is a fascinating trend. Even more so when coupled with the prospect of scores of female tourists wandering solo across the globe. In fact, an article in The Boston Globe was recently encouraging women to go at it alone claiming that locals would be eager to reach out to them. That being said, the main concern for women traveling solo continues to be safety. It’s important that solo travelers, especially women, take all necessary precautions to ensure a safe trip. The U.S. Department of State has a comprehensive list to help tourists.

Have you traveled solo? Would you consider it? Any tips?

Read about free rides home for women on Friday and Saturday nights.
___________________________________________________________________________________
gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing a travel article or photograph for publication.

 

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Comments

50 Responses to “More Women Traveling Solo”
  1. Steph says:

    I’ve traveled to a few Western European countries alone. Not much of a concern. Just important not to do anything that you wouldn’t do at home. Avoid certain places after dark. Don’t drink too much alcohol. Using common sense usually worked in most places.

  2. Seth says:

    In the end, it’s about using common sense as Steph said. I’ve been on a solo trip, but tried to make friends along the way. Leaving home alone doesn’t mean it has to remain that way. For women especially it’s important to stay attentive as some men have a Hollywood image of Western women and think they’re easier to get with.

  3. Gennaro says:

    @Steph

    Not doing things that would be considered unsafe at home is a great starting spot for any travelers who wants to avoid danger.

    @Seth

    There is an element of people abroad who have that notion about Western women. There are some in the West who treat women poorly too. Point is well taken though. A lot of men abroad who want to be your “friend” are often expecting more.

  4. Christy T says:

    I think it’s pretty cool that women are taking the initiative to get out there and travel. I haven’t done the solo thing yet, but have plenty of friend who have without major problems. It’s always smart to let your family/friends know where you’ll be. Use a money belt. And I agree with making some friends along the way.

  5. Hi Gennaro,

    I have done the solo traveling bit before I was married. I think it depends on the location. For example, I would not travel by myself to India. Gender relations there tend to be very traditional and men can grab women that they think are easy. Unfortunately, Western women are viewed as being easy.

    Besides very traditional countries, I never had any problem anywhere in the world when I used to travel solo. Kind of cool that more women are traveling solo.

  6. Gennaro says:

    @Christy T

    It is pretty cool. I’ve seen lots of women traveling solo over the past decade so it doesn’t shock me, but I am surprised that so many more women are traveling than men.

    @Nadia

    I can definitely see that being an issue in India. I was there last summer and my girlfriend was getting insane amounts of attention…and she was with me.

  7. Travel Muse says:

    I’ve traveled solo in Paris and Amsterdam. The museums in Paris were a bit tough because you want to share your experience. I commented on a painting at the Orsay to a man next to me and his wife shot me a look and dragged him off. Unfortunately women traveling solo are still suspect, even to other women. That said, the waiters couldn’t have been kinder to me. Dining alone in Paris is tough, but they made me feel welcome.

  8. Gennaro says:

    @Travel Muse

    There are some drawbacks to traveling solo, but also some advantages. In a way, it forces you to interact more with locals. Agree that meals are likely the toughest for solo travelers.

  9. Lisis says:

    Hey, Gennaro! I used to travel solo a good bit before marriage and kids… I can’t remember the last time I did ANYthing solo right now! I will say that I agree with Nadia, it kind of depends on location, and also how thick the woman’s skin is (to safely ignore the sometimes ridiculous attention.)

    One of the things I encountered, since I was often flying MYSELF to Latin American countries, was that I was not taken seriously. I once landed in a small town in Mexico, where gun-toting, military-looking guys ran out to the plane as soon as I stopped the engines. They asked, “Who is the Captain?” and, when I replied that I was, the laughed and said, “No, really.” They thought I was joking! It was incomprehensible to them that I was the pilot in command… which says a lot about how they view women in general.

    I have to say, I prefer traveling with my husband or a good friend, just to be on the safe side.
    =-)

  10. Gennaro says:

    @Lisis

    Locations certainly matters. Some places are just easier for women. Though I’ve seen plenty traveling solo in tougher countries to without problems. Who is the Captain? That’s a funny anecdote.

  11. jen laceda says:

    B.C. – Before child, I used to travel solo. But now, my husband and child want to string along as much as they can! I am actually considering some “me” time or solo travel once a year (there might be some opposition from the family here). but it’s something I just need to stay sane! Just me, my camera, and my laptop.

  12. J.D. Meier says:

    I think there’s safety in numbers, even if it’s as simple as, watch my bag, while I step in here or keep an eye on the car, while I run in … etc.

  13. Gennaro says:

    @jen laceda

    Interesting point about having a little “me” time. Sometimes it’s nice to explore a bit on your own to clear the mind.

    @J.D. Meier

    It’s helpful to have another set of eyes especially at bus or train stations. And a bit less worry overall during the trip.

  14. I’ve mostly traveled with girlfriends more as a matter of choice – I prefer the companionship and someone to enjoy those “aha” moments with as well as the frustrating times on the road (something we can look back and laugh at together). I’ve also been fortunate to have had great relationships with my travel companions and am grateful for that!

    Some solo women travels that I admire include Sherry Ott and Barbara Weibel they are two gutsy ladies and have very inviting writing styles!

  15. Dude, I thought at first I share this blog with my wife. After this post I think i’d better not. LOL!!! ;)
    I sent once my precious to a trip to Greece with her friend, a female too. That was interesting experience. ;)
    Interesting observation.

  16. Gennaro says:

    @Michaela Potter

    That makes sense. I’ve bonded with a lot of friends while traveling. It’s also nice to have someone to chat about everything you’ve seen at the end of the day.

    @Alik Levin

    Ha! I’d always recommend that all trips leaving the Levin include Alik. Much better time will be had by all. Better :)

  17. Thomas says:

    Pretty informative post, looks like you did some homework to put this together. I might be constrained to share this with my wife though!!

  18. Gennaro says:

    @Thomas

    Thanks. A lot of nervous husbands out there :)

  19. Gray says:

    I travel solo all the time and have not had any problems. It’s nice not having to negotiate with anyone else about where to go or what to do all day every day. I like to take a lot of pictures when I travel, and I think there’s only so much of that other people are willing to take. :-) Dining alone is not usually a problem–I either eat at a bar so I can chat with others, or I record my experiences in a journal while waiting for food to arrive. If I get lonely, I strike up a conversation with whoever happens to be around.

    I haven’t traveled, though, to a region that is very culturally different in terms of the way women are treated here in the US. If I were to do so, I would probably join a tour group. “Safety in numbers” and all that.

  20. Gennaro says:

    @Gray

    You hit on a number of the advantages for solo travel. Freedom to make decisions about your day is near the top of the list for most who travel solo.

    This is really one issue that has really strong arguments on both sides. Much of it comes down to the individual’s personality or preference. If it’s a choice between traveling alone or not at all, I’d like to think most would choose to travel regardless.

  21. I’m glad women are traveling more and are doing things on their own. I’ve really only traveled around the US but most of it has been by myself.

  22. Kikolani says:

    I went to Vegas for my 21st birthday solo. I had been there a few times before, but because of the people I traveled with, never got to do the things I wanted to. Taking the cabs turned out to be very beneficial – the drivers were fascinated I took the trip by myself and gave me tips on where to and not to go at certain times for the best and safest experience.

    ~ Kristi

  23. Gennaro says:

    @Kim Woodbridge

    Thought is was pretty cool too that so many women were taking the initiative to travel.

    @Kristi

    If you get the right cab driver, they are really helpful. So much knowledge of the city especially the under-visited spots.

  24. Carla says:

    I’ve traveled solo to Mexico (Jalisco) – not a destination I would go alone again. It was hard going out and always having men whistle, try to talk to you, invite you out, etc. I didn’t go out at night at all. I would do it again if I was single, but at another destination.

  25. Gennaro says:

    @Carla

    A lot of women go in early when traveling solo. Depending on the location, it can be a good idea to take a taxi at night from place to place.

  26. fly girl says:

    I’m married with children and I travel solo except for the annual family trip. I love the freedom of solo travel and am excited that more women are ignoring traditional scare tactics and going it alone. Since I’m from a big city, I have a well-honed street sense and have rarely had trouble. It’s a given that in Latin countries a single woman will get hit on, I’ve been propositioned from Mexico, to Italy, from Costa Rica to Brazil, but never anything that I haven’t dealt with in the U.S. The only place that managed to throw me off was Jamaica. The men were so agressive that I had to actually hire a local to escort me in the streets!

  27. Gennaro says:

    @fly girl

    Local escort, wow. Funny thing about travel: you often don’t know what to expect. It’s true that some countries it (attention) is expected to a certain degree. Important to be prepared for it or it can ruin a trip.

  28. I traveled for 1.5 years in one stretch and then a few solo shorter trips, never did i feel alone, and I always find that I had more fun traveling alone than with friends. Now that I’m married with kid, it’s a bit different. But the best traveling I ever did was alone!

  29. That’s great news. I was afraid that it should be the opposite, considering the danger increasing all the time. Common sense will do a long way of course, avoiding the dark places and not have any valuable stuff on you. Looking like an local as much as possible is great too.

  30. Gennaro says:

    @marina villatoro

    It’s a different style of travel. It can allow for some personal development. Also, great to have company though to share with.

    @Lifecruiser

    I like the idea of looking like a local. Trying to blend in. That goes a long way in being safe.

  31. I travel solo 90% of the time. I’m a married woman and people look at me funny when they ask if my husband is going and I say no. Travel photography is hard work best done alone. You get up early and pound the pavement for many hours while others are relaxing. It’s not fun to follow a travel photographer around.

  32. Gennaro says:

    @Wendy

    That makes a lot of sense about going out to photograph alone. Takes a lot of patience to get the perfect shot. Tough to expect someone else to wait it out.

  33. RennyBA says:

    Its about time that women equal men in the way of travelling too. It a shame on us men that they fell they can’t if they want too!

    I’m from Norway and here it’s very common. My daughter made a backpacker trip 10 years ago to the Far East and Australia and it was no issue that they where only girl travelling together.

  34. Gennaro says:

    @RennyBA

    It’s really great trend to see. I’m sure your daughter had a great time. Great area of the world.

  35. Jimbino says:

    I’ve traveled alone throughout Europe and the Americas, and I have to say that I have met few women backpacking and hosteling alone. Flying alone to visit friends and family doesn’t count and traveling with another woman is not traveling alone.

    When women travel alone, they go to the safer places, don’t fully participate in all activities, and are forced to modify their dress and other habits. It appears that world travel is simply one more of many life activities, just like chess, math, science, engineering, computer programming, haute cuisine and haute couture, where women are unfortunately under-represented, especially at the higher levels of achievement.

  36. Gennaro says:

    @Jimbino

    Except women are now traveling more than men. Alone. I’ve seen quite a few women traveling alone through my travels and I think that number is growing. Yes, it’s often in safer countries, but I’ve also seen plenty in Central America and West Africa. Safe places, but poor compared to the West.

  37. kimba says:

    If I had waited for a traveling companion to join me, I’d never have gone anywhere, or had the wonderful cultural experiences I’ve had in my life. My first solo trip was across the US on a Greyhound bus, from Pittsburgh PA to San Luis Obispo CA when I was 21 years old. That was thirty years ago! Besides car camping in CA, my solo travels have taken me across the US, to a few countries in Europe, and Mexico (so far).

    The cool thing about being a woman and traveling alone is that you never really are completely alone. It’s easier to meet people, pick up conversations with strangers and find folks to share small experiences with if you start alone. You also don’t have to travel on someone else’s time schedule or worry about whether or not they are having fun.

    I have taken a couple of trips with friends, and I have to say that the ones I take alone are much more enjoyable.

    For anyone considering it, I’d say go for it!

  38. Stephanie says:

    I just got back from a solo trip to New Zealand. I always felt safe and the locals were very friendly and welcoming.

  39. Gennaro says:

    @kimba

    Solo travel is still travel. No reason to miss the experience. And it’s true that it’s very easy to meet people while wandering. Just because a person leaves alone doesn’t mean they won’t meet lots of friends along the way.

    @Stephanie

    I think that’s the experience most women have traveling solo. Fun and safe. As long as individuals travel smart, it should be an issue.

  40. Hi Everyone,

    I’ve traveled solo often, the first time at the age of 15, and the longest stretch for three years. I haven’t really felt more or less safe than with a travel partner, nor have I felt more or less lonely.

    I haven’t stuck to the ‘safe countries’ at all. I was in Mozambique just as the war ended and there was hardly any food to be had, South Africa right after the end of Apartheid, Eritrea and Beirut after their wars too… I backpacked around Nigeria (not the smartest decision, I’ll admit) and Algeria (equally questionable) but experienced places and events I never would have as part of a couple or group.

    I’ve been lonely – maybe 1-2 days a year. I can feel that way at home too. On the contrary, as a solo traveler I’ve actually found it more difficult to be on my own because I’ve so often been surrounded by well-meaning friends.

    I don’t always travel solo but it is my travel style of choice. It’s as close as I feel I can ever come to absolute freedom.

  41. bernadette says:

    Love the article and comments. I too have travelled the world solo and find it incredibly rewarding. I must say though that the only thing I do find a little intimidating is eating in a good restaurant. Yes, I do try to take something to read…but still I feel as though every one is wondering where the partner is. This is the only downside.

  42. Rebecca says:

    I am just dying to embark on a global adventure!!!! The timing will probably not get better than it is right now and heck and there’s no time like the present! I’m early 30s and ready to do this. Now that I’ve made up my mind to do it I have to put on the thinking cap and figure out how to make it happen. Does anybody have suggestions? Other great blogs, books, tips? Cities that were easier to travel and live in than others? While I have some money saved up, I’d have to figure out how to get some money in each of the places I lived. Contemplating going and just figuring it out as I go, going with a more well known company, trying resorts/hotels, volunteering, etc. Looking forward to your thoughts!

  43. Lena says:

    @Rebecca

    I’m a first time solo traveler leaving on a 6-months trip through Asia in 3 weeks. So far my list includes Istanbul, Sri Lanka, Thailand (south to north), Laos and Vietnam. I have a feeling that buddhist and hindu countries are more psychologically comfortable, if not safer for a single female backpacker. At least the first time around.

    Still, I think that going alone is the best way to travel. I enjoyed traveling as a part of a couple, but we missed out on a lot of experiences and acquaintances, as we were always consumed with each other.

  44. Gennaro says:

    @Scribetrotter – Wow. Some of those places would be crossed off for a solo traveler. Glad to see that you did it. Great memories, I’m sure.

    @bernadette – Agreed about the restaurants.

    @Rebecca – Go for it. I have a bunch of great blog in the link tab.

    @Lena – Sounds like a fun trip. SE Asia is a very comfortable places to travel to be it alone or with someone.

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