Independent women: Embracing the solo female travel trend
I’m considering ditching my significant other and joining the increasing number of women that are travelling abroad on their own.
I had reluctantly agreed to a low-key holiday in a year sandwiched between two featuring exotic—and costly—destinations. But unfortunately for him, and as is a woman’s prerogative, I’ve changed my mind and have my heart set on Bali.
I’ve done the research, drawn up a plan and worked out the costs to try to convince him but I’m pretty sure the government is having an easier time negotiating Brexit than I am in finalising my trip to this beautiful Indonesian island. I appreciate that he is thinking logically and is worried about our dwindling finances but I have the travel bug, which is why I’m starting to think it might be easier to just go on my own.
In theory I am happy to do this. I like the idea of going where I want and being able to make an itinerary of exactly what I would like to do without having to consider anybody else. In reality, however, I think I would be lonely and miss having someone to share the experience with. While there are many things I am happy to do on my own, I just don’t think travelling abroad is one of them.
There has long been a stigma around spending time alone—with the sense that you are being anti-social. But this simply isn’t the case. In fact, there are plenty of benefits to solitude and today, not only is this trend of travelling alone being embraced—it is actually by significantly more women than men.
In its Travel Trends for 2019, Broadway Travel found that women are ditching romantic holidays and are instead choosing to jet off alone so they can ‘do what they want’ and have some ‘me time’. This comes from a survey by the Association of British Travel Agents, which found that one in six women went on holiday by themselves in the 12 months to August.
We are, of course, a generation that is choosing to be (or happy to stay) single for longer. A study by Mintel found that 61% of single women are happy with their relationship status as opposed to just 49% of men. But, according to Abta, youngsters aren’t afraid to go on holiday alone either, with one in eight 18 to 24-year-olds choosing to do so. Women are more independent than ever before and they are using the freedom that comes with this to explore the world, at their own pace.
Broadway Travel’s Chris Rossinelli explained: “We believe people are feeling more comfortable with the idea of travelling on their own because, while they are physically alone, they don’t feel lonely due to the rise of technology and the access to Wi-Fi. Rather than sending a postcard they can message, call and even FaceTime their loved ones back home instantly, from wherever they are in the world.”
Last year, Pinterest saw a 600% increase in the search term ‘solo travel’. Similarly, when analysing the searches of 3 million Brits over three years, Hitwise found a 143% increase, predominately from women aged 25-34.
Writer Laura Jane Williams took part in this growing trend last year when she spent 10 days in Egypt by herself around the time of her birthday. She agrees that technology has played a part in the increase of women travelling alone saying: “I have ‘Find my friends’ switched on with all my family, so we all know exactly where everyone is.”
But, recalling the trip, she says it was finding herself single that encouraged her to take the trip. She explained: “I love my own company, and after a break-up with a man who hated every holiday suggestion I came up with I relished being able to do what I damned well pleased!”
She continued: “I knew I wanted what my friend Lucy calls a ‘Fly and Flop’ – just laying by a pool with very few decisions to be made. I went all-inclusive so that I never had to leave the resort. I went in May and had a budget of about £1,000, and ended up getting ten days in Egypt for that.”
Williams concurs that it is social media that ensures she doesn’t feel lonely when travelling by herself, saying: “I take Instagram with me! That’s a holiday with 26,000 people! I don’t feel alone when I can chat to my community about what I’m doing, but also: feeling lonely sometimes is a good thing, I think. It reminds you of who you are.”
Laura, author of memoir Becoming which details some of her travels, regularly promotes spending time alone and says this is important because: “The greatest love affair of my life, the person I spend most time with, the person I need to love and accept before any other relationship in my life will work… is me!”
She believes travel is ideal to do this, adding: “For me it’s the best way to leave the rest of life behind and see what I’m really made of!
“Do what you want, when you want, how you want, for the length of time that you want… it’s total autonomy!”
There are holidays she would avoid, however: “I could never do a group 18-30, say, but for somebody else that could be perfect. I like my own space and my own routine, so I’m best off on my own.” Laura believes women are doing this now simply ‘because we can’. She said: “For so long we haven’t been able to—but now we can, we’re experimenting with abandon!”
Although there’s no shying away from the fact that women can be more vulnerable when they are on their own – especially in a new place – Laura’s advice is: “Trust your gut, always ask for help from a woman over a man if you can help it, tell exactly zero people where you are staying if you meet them on the road.”
So, is there a downside to going on holiday alone? Only one, according to Laura. “I really miss having somebody to watch my bags when I need a wee.”
As for me, while I’m still tempted and Laura presents a convincing case, I think I might try to convince him just one last time…