It’s true. Women do travel alone much more than men – cursory research online reveals that 72% of women enjoy travelling solo and 55% of solo travel searches in the UK are made by women aged 25 to 34.
Except, I can’t say I’m surprised at all. As I’m writing this on a long-haul flight from Singapore to Rio de Janeiro, I resonate with all the findings. Recently, largely under the influence of my best friend who would book a spontaneous trip then go under the radar at the speed of Thanos’ finger snap, I was inspired to take my initiation into the world of solo travel. In fact, last December, at a job that was indeed too fast-paced for me to even realise I haven’t been breathing throughout my time there, I felt compelled to break free. I wanted to run wild and free into untouched greenery; a strange land with unfamiliar faces, where calls and emails can’t reach me. Ultimately, I was looking to escape someplace I could disconnect to reconnect with myself. Though that particular solo trip didn’t happen, I did plunge myself into a whirlwind journey to India with the best bunch of people – but that’s a story for another time.
The ease of travel, freedom of time and having fewer obligations has enabled women to travel solo.
During my daily commute, a quick scroll through my Instagram feed presents me perfect squares of lone women beaming their brightest against exotic landscapes. Whether it’s a spiritual retreat at the Land of Happiness, a well-documented series of Instagram stories of their Appalachian Trial adventure (what a dream!), or carefree bumming on Italian beaches, women today have better means to travel with fewer obligations than our moms collectively did. Logistically, it’s only gotten more convenient too. International travel by flight is more accessible now than ever. Women also have more time in their personal lives to explore the merits of solo travel.
It’s funny how many people have crossed paths with me on my solo trip to India. I never felt alone, not a second of it. Wherever I went, fate followed ☘️ This was captured by Ricki, probably his first time using a film camera. I didn’t want any photo of my face taken but he insisted to help me take a picture on our way to Bagsug Waterfall which became his first time too despite living there for 4 years! Too many good things have happened, so much so I’m still in the process of giving thanks to the entire universe of transcending good vibrations. Nature is limitless, so is my love for it, just too much love 🙏💗#anyhaoexplore #indiatrippin #filmisnotdead
But what’s the appeal of solo travel for young women, really?
Is it just as simple as having more time and money to do it? Then, why aren’t more men doing it too? Is it just passive defiance against social norms, seeing how women are traditionally regarded to be the domestic one? Are we more inclined to the romance of escapism; of just leaving everything behind (temporarily) and diving head-first into the unknown? Or are we just more receptive to the enigmatic ability of travel to empty our heads for new and better states to enter?
For me, travelling alone allows me the time and space to focus on just one thing: me. When you’re travelling alone, circumstances force you to learn to trust yourself. Aside from the research that you had prepped ahead of time, you learn to rely on your intuition; forget what mama taught you, speak to strangers and make new friends if and when you want to. In a totally non-narcissistic way, solo travel lets me experience independence in completely new circumstances that are self-actualising.
As reality goes, my sentiments on solo travel as a young woman check out with other women who travel alone too. In 2018, over 50% of millennial women made self-care their new year’s resolution, and taking a trip in 2019 is just their newfound shortcut to wellness and self-care – two things we’re clearly splurging time and money on, even when we’re not travelling.
All About Women Travellers
Here’s a fun fact for you: did you know the world’s earliest travel writings were actually produced by – not a man, but a woman named Egeria? In 381 AD, she started her journey from Spain or Rhone Valley and scaled Mount Sinai during her pilgrimage to the Holy Lands. During her travel, the personal letters that she had penned are regarded today as the first travel memoir in the world.
Throughout history, women are conventionally portrayed as the docile one who stays home to take care of kids and homely matters. Back in Egeria’s times, travel wasn’t encouraged nor accepted for women so it wasn’t something that many had aspirations about. Unlike our access to social media these days where we can record a 15-second story and post it instantly on Instagram, historical women didn’t advertise their solo travels as much as we did. The lack of documentation led people to believe that in the past, women didn’t travel at all. But Egeria’s anecdotes shifted public perception.
Fast forward to the 18th and 19th century, women started producing exceptional travel writings such as Nellie Bly’s Around the World in Seventy-Two Days. Such books greatly spurred women to leave their domestic domain and step out into the world brave and solo.
In Modern Times
Thanks to demographic changes, women have another reason to travel solo more than men. Since the social revolution started in the 1960s, research has shown that the age at which women become mothers has been on the rise. From 1975 to 2016, a study has also found that women making under $30,000 per annum dropped from 80% to 58%, so we’re making more money than before.
Over the years, women have traded in marriage and kids to develop their careers. They aspire to gain more financial freedom and flexibility. Instead of experiencing parenthood, they prioritised meaningful experiences which may translate to a month in South of France, three days floating on a cruise by Halong Bay, or two weeks basking in the wonders of nature in Brazil. These kinds of experiences tend to promise a certain soul-deep gratification that we just can’t find in modern living back home, unfortunately.
The Enchantment & Exhilaration of Solo Travel
Looking out the window by my seat, it’s a spectacular sight. A waxing gibbous moon watches over my overnight flight; the sun is setting somewhere over the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean as it casts a crimson glow on the clouds below. Even between groggy half-sleeps, the enchanting feeling of newness courses through my veins and exhilarates me. Flying above ground and being so far away from home imbues me with a sense of detachment – perhaps it’s the ability to see things from a bird’s eye view that gives one the worldly perspective on life. Somewhere in between worlds, flying at 850km/h at 13,106m above ground, I find the solace I need amidst the cacophonous whirring of the aircraft. Big blue moon in the birth of night has got nothing on me.
As the plane shudders as it makes its descent into Rio de Janeiro, I had an epiphany. I guess, at the end of it all, it really boils down to one thing for most (if not all) solo female travellers: we’re just in for an adventure of self-discovery. And beyond our experiences from solo travel, what we get in return is truly priceless: perspectives.
So it’s not about whether you’re ready to take on the world alone, really. Once you’ve committed yourself to travel solo, the question then changes: is the world ready for you, lion-heart?
Featuring IUIGA’s Full Aluminium Magnesium Luggage
This one needs little introduction. While not our latest launch, the Full Aluminium Magnesium Luggage has always been one of our bestsellers – and is it really any surprise?
Not only does it come in four attractive colours, it also boasts several unique features that combine exquisite design with total practicality. For starters, did you know our luggage are made by Samsonite’s manufacturer? This means they’re not just quality-assured, they’re also specially designed to endure knocks and drops during bumpy transits. And since they’re made of the same material as aircrafts, they’re naturally lightweight and robust – just everything you wish upon a star for a great travel companion.
Beyond its spaciousness, the luggage also has organised compartments consisting of two flex-divider systems for neat and secure packing. And with our speedy next-day delivery, this will come in just in time for your getaways!
All-things solo travel aside, you know what else I’m really curious about? In a land of strangers, who do you trust to take your Instagram snaps for you?
- Thinking of Travelling Alone? Here Are Some Tips to Getting Started
- Headache Free Travel Packing Guide Part 1: Packing, Rolling, or Folding?
- Headache Free Travel Packing Guide Part 2: How to Find The Perfect Luggage
As an exclusive treat for new readers, here’s a little something for your first purchase: use code BLOG5 at check-out.