Long gone are the days when women travelled only with a partner or family. Today, female-led travel is on the rise, and almost two-thirds of travellers worldwide are women.
These days, Flight Centre’s typical in-store customer is a 49-year-old female looking for solo travel inspiration. And they’re prepared to splash out: Last year women spent 31 per cent more than men in Flight Centre’s stores.
There are many reasons women are embracing solo travel, says Luvena Lee, the Team Leader at Flight Centre Zetland. They include the opportunity to meet new people; getting out of their comfort zones in pursuit of personal growth; the freedom of being able to do what they want, when they want; and not missing out on exploring the world when family and friends may have other priorities.
It’s not all about fun or sight-seeing, though. “Some customers who are booking solo travel are looking to unplug and use the trip as a time to disconnect and reflect before making big life decisions,” says Luvena. “Not only do they create unforgettable memories, they gain new perspectives which they can take back to their careers or families.”
Whether you’re making solo travel plans, organising a trip with girlfriends, or joining a group experience aimed at female travellers, we’ve rounded up some exciting possibilities to whet your appetite for your next trip.
Women travelling solo
Meg Jerrard and Mar Pages co-founded the Solo Female Travelers Facebook group in 2015. Now a thriving community of 300,000 women who love to travel. The COVID-19 pandemic brought a big spike in membership as people “re-evaluated where their lives were going and sought out others to connect with,” Meg says.
The pair launched small group tours in 2021 when members told them, “We’d love to connect with other like-minded women to travel together.” This addressed the key challenges of women’s travel that members had noted in surveys. Safety, getting lost, and the fear of being lonely.
Highlighting successful women in their destinations is a meaningful part of their tours. In Tuscany they take guests to female-owned wineries such as Fattoria di Fugnano. Owner Laura Dell’Aira, who defied her Sicilian family’s wishes when she opened the winery at the age of just 23.
In Tanzania, tour participants can join a local woman to shop at the markets and then cook a meal together. If camping or caravanning appeals, the Rolling Solo community will connect you with like-minded women across Australia. Their tag-along road trips take place across all states. You can join with just a car and a small tent.
Camino de Santiago women’s walk
“I walked the 800km Camino de Santiago in 2017 solo after raising my sons. I was captivated by the experience and personal transformation that occurred on foot,” says Darene Puttergill, co-founder of women’s pilgrimage program Soul of My Feet. “It was like a rite of passage, stepping into the fullness of myself and the world.” There she befriended Canadian Sylvie Chouinard “and we decided we had to return with other women and guide them through the same soulful journey.”
Since then, Darene, from Noosa, and Montreal-based Sylvie have led groups along ancient paths in Spain, Italy and Portugal. “Without exception,” Darene says, “everyone has come away with profound personal insights.” The next pilgrimage is planned for April 2024.
Women-led tours in Africa
Eager to answer the call of the wild? There’s a tour for that. “We identified a gap in the market where women were seeking adventure but hesitant to venture out on safari on their own,” says Bench Africa’s Julie De Palo.
Cue the Escorted Ladies Tour, a female-led exploration of Kenya’s best-known parks, including Tsavo and the Masai Mara. Wildlife isn’t the only attraction: Guests participate in activities such as cooking classes and Masai beadwork lessons. The best part? There’s no single supplement. “This means women can enjoy the privacy of their own room, and pay the same as if they were travelling as a couple,” Julie says.
Take part in a fundraising walk in Australia
Make a team of four and join one of Wild Women on Top’s Coastrek fundraising walks, which take place in many parts of Australia, including the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, part of Western Australia’s stunning Cape to Cape Track, and a bushwalk taking in Lake Burley Griffin in the ACT. It’s not just about the destination. Training with friends ahead of the walk and working together to fundraise for the Heart Foundation make it a feel-good adventure with your favourite women.
Top tips for novice solo travellers
• Take a book: Reading at a solo dinner dissolves your self-consciousness.
• Be kind to yourself: Choose a familiar destination for your first solo adventure.
• Earmark someone to check in with each day: A concierge, fellow traveller or family back home.
• Follow your instincts: If you don’t feel safe, move on.
• Pack light, as you and your baggage will be going everywhere together.
Solo travel ideas for women
What are the global hotspots for solo female travellers? Flight Centre travel expert Luvena Lee reveals the favourite places for adventurers.
• European countries such as Iceland and Switzerland.
• New Zealand
• Southeast Asia