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Women make up a significant portion of solo travelers. In 2018, 33% of women respondents from around the world told Booking.com they’d taken a solo trip.
But now, it seems a new travel trend is picking up speed. Women are taking a break from their families, friends and boyfriends to travel not just alone, but with other women. Taking an organized trip or retreat is understandably enticing, as it offers a way for women to travel solo safely and within a community of other solo women, leaving the organizational details to the experts.
After all, according to TPG‘s social media editor, Danielle Vito, solo travel isn’t just about being alone. “Solo travel is about going out and meeting other other travelers on their own journey and making connections with people from around the world. Having a large network of women already set up for you is a great way to feel safe and welcomed when traveling to an unfamiliar destination,” she explained after participating in a women-only retreat in Bali.
Tour operators are starting to catch on and cater to solo women who want to join a group. Many are waiving solo traveler supplements or creating tours, events and trips specifically for women solo travelers who may have safety concerns, or simply want to have adventures with other women. One of these is Intrepid, a tour operator that has started to offer female-only group tours called Women’s Expeditions. The tours, which visit destinations such as Morocco, Jordan, Nepal, Turkey, Kenya, Iran and India, have been some of the fastest-growing tours at Intrepid thus far, increasing from four tour departures to 36 in just a few months.
Jenny Gray, Intrepid’s global product manager, attribute the growth to women traveling in the #MeToo era. “These new tours follow an incredible response to the launch of our first three Women’s Expeditions. The #MeToo era is making its mark on travel — our female travelers want to hear the stories and struggles of women around the globe.”
Even when tour groups aren’t limited only to women, many travel operators are encouraging solo women clients to join groups, as they likely won’t be the only solo women there, easing safety and logistical concerns.
This rang particularly true for traveler Susan Curl, an expat in her 30s who decided to travel unaccompanied by family members or friends to Kenya, where she joined a safari tour organized by boutique, sustainable tour operator Kin. Although her tour wasn’t specifically geared towards women, many of the participants were women also traveling alone, and she ending up having an incredible vacation and making many new friends.
“I wanted to travel on my own, but not alone, ” Curl explained to TPG. “Once I knew Kin was in charge of the safety and logistics, I could relax among like-minded women (and men) and just enjoy.”
Female influencers are also taking the group route, too. Lindsay Silberman, a travel influencer with an Instagram following nearing 150,000, told TPG she was initially “hesitant” to go to India with a group of other female influencers she’d never met. “Being in a foreign country with a group of strangers is a fairly intimidating concept — but it worked out so well. We were all like-minded in our intentions (seeing as much of India as we could and creating amazing content) but each of us had different personalities and backgrounds, which made for a really refreshing group dynamic. I think this style of travel is going to continue gaining popularity — not because solo travel is dangerous or less appealing, but because sharing these kind of experiences with other women can make them feel even more special,” she said.
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I’ll be honest: when I was first invited on a trip to India for an #instameet with six complete strangers, I was hesitant. I usually prefer to travel with friends, family, or @instahusband (obv) so the idea of going away for 9 days with people I didn’t know made me nervous. But after a few weeks of contemplation I decided I would force myself to get over my insecurities about the situation… and just DO IT. I’m so glad I did. This crew was absolutely incredible, and I feel blessed to now have each and every one of them in my life. Moral of the story: Challenge yourself to do things that make you scared and uncomfortable. You never know what might come of it… 💛 Sunglasses & Earrings: @sunnispencer #tajhotels #aktravels #treasuredbytajtraveler #myunitedjourney
Women’s History Month may have officially ended, but the upswing in women-only and women-focused tours has just begun. Looking to travel solo, but not alone? These 10 tours are changing the way women travel the world.
Hike in rugged destinations such as Kilimanjaro, Everest and Iceland alongside other female outdoor enthusiasts with WHOA Travel, which stands for Women High On Adventure. The company was created by women, for women who love adventure, but may be skeptical about hiking Everest on their own. Even better, the company believes in making a positive impact in all the destinations they visit, and connects their travelers with local women. Eight-day adventures start at $2,500.
India is famous for its yoga and healing Ayurvedic medicine, and women yogis will love the magnetic and spiritual energy of Rishikesh, the gateway to the Himalayas — also known as the birthplace of yoga. The ideal spot to rest, rejuvenate and dig deep, the city is home to many spiritual gurus as well as the holy Ganges River. While Rishikesh has a number of different yoga, meditation and spiritual retreats to choose from, Vedansha offers a female-only yin retreat with vegetarian meals, yoga classes, consultations with an Ayurvedic specialist, massages, excursions and more. Prices start at $500 for a week.
This company creates women-only retreats (usually 8 to 12 women per group) that focuses on giving back to the communities they explore. With retreats in India, Guatemala, Ecuador, Morocco and elsewhere, Purposeful Nomad trips connect travelers with local women to create ethical, educational and cultural experiences, volunteer opportunities and adventures. For example, a weeklong trip to the Dominican Republic in the spring of 2020 includes a partnership with female youth through the Mariposa Foundation, touring sustainable farms, salsa and bachata classes, yoga and meditation. The tour, which includes lodging, most meals and activities (like yoga classes) starts at $2450.
Going to Africa or India alone may seem a bit intimidating at first, but signing up for a ladies-only safari is the perfect solution. Kisima’s safaris are exclusively for women, and connect travelers will local women and donate to organizations that benefit women around the world. Another great option? Journeys Discovering Africa guides women with a thirst for adventure through countries such as Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda. Prices vary, but usually start at about $4,000 per trip.
Remember how much you loved camp as a kid? Camp Clarity is kind of the same thing — but for adult women. With visits to ancient temples, cooking meditation, leadership and creativity workshops, spa treatments, some “sisterly-style” bonding with other retreat attendees and yoga, Camp Clarity also includes a stay at a luxury beachfront resort and three meals a day. Prices start at $1,995 for weeklong retreats.
Wild Women Expeditions
Hiking, surfing, snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, boating and canoeing are just a sample of the adventures you’ll have on the Hawaiian island of Kauai with like-minded female thrill-seekers. Wild Women Expeditions charges $3,895 for this female group tour, which includes all the aforementioned adventures as well as accommodation and some meals.
Intrepid Travel offers a few women-only expeditions that help travelers respectfully understand what life is like for local women while also exploring the cultural traditions of the country. The Jordan expedition, for example, takes women to visit the deserts of Wadi Rum, learn to cook Arabic food in the homes of local women, swimming at a ladies-only beach on the Dead Sea, helping a female shepherd milk her goats and soaking with local ladies in the hammam. Prices for the eight-day adventure start at $1,900 and include a driver, several meals, accommodation and all sorts of cultural experiences and tours.
U River Cruises
In 2019, the millennial-focused cruise line U River Cruises waived or reduced its single supplements on several river cruises throughout Europe. This means you can ply the rivers of France, Spain, Portugal, Holland and beyond without being penalized for traveling alone. Although the sailings aren’t exclusively for solo women travelers, their open seating for meals and small group excursions are great for unaccompanied women. Prices, dates, destinations and length of journey vary and the single supplement is waived only on the classic staterooms.
Chris Bray Photography
Chris Bray Photography is attempting to change the what the company considers the “male-dominated dynamic of photography” by offering women-only photography tours throughout Tasmania. The six-day tour includes a helicopter ride over Cradle Mountain, visits to Maria Island, Dove Lake, Liffey Falls and a boat trip to a remote seal colony, plus one-on-one critique sessions and Lightroom editing tutorials. Prices start at $3,500 and include meals and accommodations.
Pura Vida Costa Rica
For solo women travelers who want to relaxing, unwind, surf and really embrace La Pura Vida, Costa Rica is the spot. Learn to surf with a community of cool chicks who ride the waves at the aptly-named Pura Vida Costa Rica retreat camp. There are 10 different dates available for the seven-day, six-night women’s-only retreat offerings, where ladies have access to daily surf and yoga lessons, a massage, accommodation and all meals starting at $2,895.
Featured image by Ales Krivec via Unsplash.
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