Solo female travel is set to reach new heights in 2018.
Google searches for solo travel hit their peak at the beginning of January 2018 according to google trends, increasing fourfold over the past 5 years.
Millennials are driving the solo travel trend: according to Resonance Consultancy’s Future of U.S. Millennial Travel Report, 25% of U.S. millennials polled said they plan to take a solo trip in the next 12-24 months. And, according to a study by booking.com women dominate solo travel with a 63/36 split.
It makes sense; young women are seeking a myriad of travel experiences from weekend city breaks to adventure travel to yearlong explorations around the world. And, there are many reasons why travelling solo is the way to go: you don’t have to wait for a travel buddy, or compromise your ideal trip, and you can gain confidence and independence whilst making new friends along the way.
Social media is playing a significant role in motivating and empowering women to travel alone. Female solo travellers often post about their experience online, offering advice on safety of destinations, where to stay and tips on how to save money along the way for other women travelling alone. So while empowerment is a strong driver, a top consideration and barrier for women travellers is safety.
Instagram provides inspiration for solo travel routes to follow, experiences and hidden gems. Gloria Atanmo, a female solo adventure traveller, has an Instagram feed that doubles as a visual travel diary of the 60+ countries she’s explored so far on her travels, offering advice to other women on how to travel on a shoestring budget. Travel blogs, such as Be My Travel Muse by Kristen Addis, provide more detail about where to stay and how to stay safe when travelling alone. In a survey by booking.com over half the women attribute social media to boosting their confidence to take the plunge and travel solo.
And the industry is paying attention: female travel influencers are often allowed to stay free of charge at luxury accommodation or, more increasingly, are offered free ‘experiences’ such as sunrise yoga at the top of a mountain, to post insta-worthy snaps on their feeds and blogs, tempting other travellers to make it a must-visit on their next trip.
All of this social media ‘noise’ however is being driven by individuals or by women congregating online to share knowledge. There is clearly an opening for brands to start owning this space as well.
Most hostels now offer female-only dorms, and often a common area and bar where it’s easy to meet other like-minded travellers, making solo travel as a young woman far less daunting. Hostel World has also started to provide tangible advice for the best countries for solo female travellers, first timers or experienced, and the best hostels to stay in.
On the whole, then, it is women themselves who are encouraging and driving this trend. This is understandable as women feel that advice from an individual or from their trusted insta favourites will be authentic and legitimate. But this doesn’t need to be the case.
Brands also have the power to drive this change; helping women to feel safe and secure if on their own, (which is a great cause to be the champion of) while also having increased influence in charting the customer journey.