A quiet revolution is taking place in the travel and tourism industry. Women – once virtually unheard of as solo travelers- are slowly becoming a major demographic targeted by the hospitality and tourism industry.
Prompted by the freedom afforded by being generally more educated and less likely to be constrained by household responsibilities than our mothers, solo travel is exploding in popularity among women. Despite the exploding popularity, the demographic of women that travel can be generally defined by categories.
This illustration, like the paper it’s based on, describes solo travelers in multiple terms. Rather than simply a single demographic group, solo travelers are in many ways a group of women with shared values, interests, goals, and personality traits.
A Typical Female Solo Traveler:
The left side of the art illustrates some of these personal traits and motivations for solo travel, while the right side of the image records more concrete statistics that researchers have generalized about women who solo travel based on data. These include.
Seeks life-changing experiences
Women who travel solo are seeking an experience beyond what their home city can offer. They may not be sure what they are seeking, but the goal is that somehow, through travel, to learn, see, or experience something that will shape their lives in a positive way.
Wants to experience personal growth
Sometimes- well, often- personal growth requires getting out of our comfort zone. Travel offers a perspective shift. Free from the constraints of our daily life, we can experiment with who we are and if that version of ourselves is matched our personal ethics and goal for ourselves. Travel for personal growth is a motive for many solo travelers.
Also on an internal journey
Female travelers know, likely both intuitively and from reading the reports of other female solo travelers, that travel isn’t just about seeing new things. Travel also offers an opportunity to change internally. A trip, then, becomes not just an external adventure to see the world, but an internal journey to find out who we might become at the end of our solo travel.
Gains empowerment through travel
For women who haven’t had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time alone or navigating challenging situations without a parent or partner, solo travel can be an incredibly empowering experience. Through solo travel, as this art shows, a woman can discover her own ability to problem solve and overcome challenges, and through that, to grow more confident. These skills accompany travelers home, where many reports feeling more empowered in daily life.
Values freedom and flexibility
A notable commonality among female solo travelers is the appreciation of freedom and flexibility. Many women solo travel as their preferred form of travel because it offers the opportunity to be flexible that group or even partnered travel does not. During solo travel without an itinerary, a traveler is free to change her mind on the fly – allowing her to experience a more spontaneous and often more enjoyable form of travel.
Usually aged 25 to 45
According to researchers, most women who travel alone are between the ages of 25 and 45, although outliers exist in the form of teenagers who solo travel and the many older women who enjoy solo travel and retirement.
Generally well educated
With education often comes a higher income and a significant amount of privilege. These factors often translate into opportunities to travel and the confidence to travel alone travel. An educated woman has opportunities to explore in ways that women with less income and in lower-paying jobs generally do not.
Often financially independent
Although not true across the board, researchers found that the majority of women who enjoy solo travel pay their own way. Rather than being funded by a parent or spouse, solo travelers are more likely to make their own money and be solely responsible for decisions on how they spend it.
Mainly from western countries
Although cultural shifts may trend in a different direction in coming years, currently most women who travel internationally alone are from western countries – with American, Canadian, and European women being the most likely to set out on a solo travel adventure.
Download this Image of a Female Solo Traveler:
Download This Image of A Female Solo Traveler:
Download this graphic for personal use below. PDFs depicting 2 skin tones are included.
In this illustration, I show some of the results discussed in an academic paper presented in the Indonesian Journal of Tourism and Leisure in 2021. Although these researchers are based in Indonesia and specifically targeted research concerning travel in their region, their research reviewed data on travelers from many countries. Given the constraints of the research, this study provides useful data for understanding women solo travelers in global tourism, and is a good source to start to understand women who solo travel, who they are, and what motivates them.
Image description for screen readers
This image depicts a woman with dark brown hair shown on a plain lilac background. The image has a header which states: anatomy of a female solo traveler.
The traveler is shown wearing a yellow shirt, a backpack, and turquoise shorts. In right hand, she is holding a water bottle with stickers, and in the other hand, she grasps a passport. On the background surrounding the woman, descriptive phrases are placed randomly with arrows pointing to random parts of the traveler’s body.
These phrases include: seeks life-changing experiences, wants to experience personal growth, also on an internal journey, gains empowerment through solo travel, values freedom and flexibility, usually age 25 to 45, generally well educated, often financially independent, mostly from western countries.
In the bottom right-hand corner of the image, the art is signed art ©wanderbig.com. The academic sources cited.
Hamid, Sheeba & Ali, Ruksar & Azhar, Mohd & ., Sujood. (2021). Solo Travel and Well-Being Amongst Women: An Exploratory Study. Indonesian Journal of Tourism and Leisure. 2. 10.36256/ijtl.v2i1.125.
Lynli Roman’s unique approach to travel is informed by decades of experience on the road with a traveling family and, later, years spent as a solo international traveler. When she’s not writing about Seattle from her Pike Place Market apartment, Lynli writes on-location while conducting hands-on research in each destination she covers. Lynli’s writing has been featured by MSN, ABC Money, Buzzfeed, and Huffington Post. She is passionate about sharing information that makes travel more accessible for all bodies.