At the end of 2017 the travel experts predicted that solo travel, especially among females, will be one of the top travel trends for 2018 and a recent survey by Solitair Holidays is proof of just that; 72.4% of women are likely to travel alone, while just 27.6% of men were keen to jam to I’m leaving on jet plane.
But while a solo trip might be a matter of been there, done that and got the t-shirt for some, other females have been going there, doing that and getting the t-shirt washed again and again now for years. There’s nothing new or trendy about solo travelling fueled by oestrogen. Women have moved on from South-east Asia’s popular backpacking route as the holy grail, they’ve moved on from the raved about trail of finding pasta in Italy, the Dalai Lama in India and a love story to tell from Indonesia and they’ve moved onto adventure travel, slackpacking, staycations and exploring a place in their own unique way.
But whether solo female travel is an old or a new trend, female travellers who choose to travel alone are often still misunderstood and find themselves in situations where they have to justify their choice to go solo with sad story of introspection, divorce or a life changing event.
Here are 8 things you should know about the solo female traveller.
She is not necessarily travelling to find herself
Yes, she may have read the book, watched the movie and found the story inspiring but if you think that every single solo female traveller is just another copy of the movie Eat, Pray, Love, think again. While some women are on a journey of self-discovery or one of healing, others are travelling to learn a new language, indulge in local art, cuisine, heritage and culture, meet new people or to discover sites, tick items off a bucket list and live a life filled with adventure. She may have ‘found herself’ already but she also see no harm in finding herself again.
“You are the one that possesses the keys to your being. You carry the passport to your own happiness.” – Diane von Furstenberg
TRAVEL GUIDE: Solo travelling the Indian Ocean islands
She might be a bit older than other solo female travellers
Gone are the days when the typical solo female traveller was a 20-something fresh out of university or high school, sporting baggy elephant pants, Asian whiskey buckets and a backpack covered in tiny little flags from the Banana Pancake Trail. The same survey of Solitair Holidays showed that more than 84% of people who go solo on holiday are between the ages of 51 and 70 and only 4% are under 30. Yes, older woman can travel alone as well, whether they’re single or married, wearing baggy elephant pants or designer jeans, going away for a week or a year. Did you hear about the South African woman who travelled in her Toyota Conquest through Africa to London? She’s a granny, 80 years old and did it all by herself. Now that’s awesome!
“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand
#AfriTravel: This 80-year-old granny just road-tripped from Cape Town to London
She is strong
The woman who travels alone is a tough cookie; she will haul a heavy backpack across the world, wheel her suitcase from hotel to hotel, stand her ground, stand up for something she feels passionate about, tackle any situation with resilience and confidence, plus on top of that, she – just like a lot of women out there - is not afraid to chase after her goals and dreams.
“Don’t ever accept anyone else’s preconceived limitations. If there’s something you want to do, there isn’t any reason you can’t do it.” – Amy Dodson
She is wise
She’s travel smart and street smart; it might have taken a few trips and hits and misses to learn but she knows how to be her own travel agent and tour guide, she knows how to haggle, when to bend the truth a little bit, where to go, when to stay and when to ask for help.
“I learned my strengths and my weaknesses. I experienced the exhilaration of the ups and the despairs of the lows and most of the feelings in between… I learned courage and I learned it myself.” – Ann Stirk
Just because she travels solo does not mean she has no friends to travel with her; she willingly chooses to travel all by herself and for her, being alone does not translate to being lonely. Sometimes you’ll find her in a quiet corner reading a book, other times she mingles with travellers she has met along the way. She might call home and miss her family and friends, but at the same time she finds comfort in being alone.
“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.” – Albert Einstein
TRAVEL GUIDE: #FindYourEscape at these relaxing solo getaways in SAShe can be an extrovert AND an introvert
Surprise, surprise, not all solo travellers are extroverts with the ability to turn strangers into travel buddies. Believe it or not, some are introverts and extremely shy yet they still thrive off the energy of discovering a new and exciting place, exploring new cultures and – gasp – yes, meet people.
“I hope the fathers and mothers of little girls will look at them and say ‘yes, women can.'” – Dilma Rousseff
Pass, move along and dunk your catcalling in a river of respect; solo female travellers are not looking for attention and she is definitely not after anyone’s creepy remarks or jerk-like behaviour. When she sits alone on a beach she is not holding out a sign saying, please come harass me. When she sits alone in a restaurant she is not asking for company when she is reading a book. When she walks down the street she is not yours to be judged.
“This journey has always been about reaching your own other shore no matter what it is, and that dream continues.” – Diana Nyad
She’s travelling solo but might change her mind
Maybe she is travelling solo now, maybe it is the best, most invigorating thing she has ever experienced in her life and she can’t stop talking about what it means to her to be able to go alone to a new city or country with confidence. But maybe she will change her mind, maybe next month or next year she’ll travel with a group of friends, find someone special or do family trips and tell you what it means to her to be able to experience a new city or country with loved ones. Maybe she will change her mind.
“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake.” – Marie Beyon Ray
Anje Rautenbach is the writer behind the blog Going Somewhere Slowly, find her Facebook,Twitter or on Instagram!