by Karen Galles
Targeting solo female travelers as a single market is virtually impossible – women of all ages, life stages, nationalities, education levels and socioeconomic backgrounds are taking to solo travel.
A Market that’s Too Big to be “Niche”
Internet chatter around the “solo woman traveler” is high. There’s a significant number of solo female travel bloggers sharing their experiences and tips and absolutely no shortage of articles from publications including The New York Times and Travel and Leisure touting advice and recommending “top destinations” for women traveling alone.
According to Marybeth Bond, the National Geographic writer, author and adventurer behind the popular Gutsy Traveler website, women’s purchasing power in the travel segment has never been higher. Perhaps that’s stating the obvious.
But let’s take a look at some of the many statistics that demonstrate the extraordinary market value potential of the solo woman traveler:
- Women drive 70-80% of all consumer purchasing (Forbes)
- There has recently been a 230% increase in the number of women-only travel companies (com)
- 73% of agents polled noting that more female travelers embark on solo trips than their male counterparts (AIG/Travel Guard)
Why are women traveling alone? For all of the same reasons men travel alone. All politics aside, it’s hard to ignore the elephant-in-the-room factors that make a solo woman traveler a notable person in the first place. In some parts of the world and in certain cultures, women don’t enjoy the same freedoms as others; traveling alone may be regarded as a luxury. And women are more likely to be seen as “easy targets” so they generally have to take extra precautions with respect to personal safety and security.
But nothing is truly standing in the way of the solo women travelers circling the globe today. A 2014 Booking.com survey found that 72% of American women have embraced solo travel and are taking advantage of unique destinations for inspiration and self-discovery. They’re also out there—like their male counterparts—exploring nature, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, practicing new languages, pursuing hobbies and interests, coming face-to-face with history, getting some rest and relaxation and digging their heels into sports and athletic challenges. And along the way, they’re gaining confidence, learning new skills and enjoying the freedom of following their own schedules and traveling at their own pace—even if they’re traveling “solo” with a tour group of like-minded women.
Top Destinations for the Solo Woman Traveler
It would be unfair to say that any destination is off-limits to the solo woman traveler, but because any person who is traveling alone may at any time be without a companion (and an extra set of eyes and ears), a location offering safe havens from known dangers as well as comfortable hospitality is a best bet.
Travel Channel recommends Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada as prime locations for the solo woman on a getaway. Vietnam is said to be the most female-friendly travel destination in Southeast Asia. And according to Trafalgar, Iceland, Japan, and Morocco are other popular destinations for solo women travelers. Gutsy Traveler provides specific information on a variety of destinations around the world.
What’s influencing their travel decisions? Social media. Travel suppliers should take note that out of the 500 American women surveyed by Booking.com, all use social channels across their experience, from navigating regional attractions and hidden gems (49%) and keeping ties with family and friends (60%). More than half (56%) “attribute social channels to instilling a level of safety and boosting confidence.”