While the Internet can be given credit for revolutionizing oh-so-many things, one of the biggies is travel. How the heck did we do it, back in the old days? When we relied on outdated, five-pound printed guide books? And made international calls from telephone booth pay phones? (Or, maybe like me, you just “disappeared” for six or eight weeks at a time.) What about before the age of smart phones, when we had to wait for seats in “stinky internet cafés with sticky keyboards?” (wait, that’s a line from my book.) Note to the World Wide Web generation: Travel used to be even harder than walking up the hill both ways to go to school.
Arguably, the demographic which has benefited the most from technology is that of the female solo traveler. A recent report-slash-marketing-release by Booking.com (in PDF download format) cites that half of the women asked said they’re more likely to travel alone than they were five years ago. And a 2011 study done by CAP Strategic Research found that women represent the fastest-growing segment of both the business and leisure travel market.
When you consider the process involved just to agree on a restaurant or movie with your best friend and/or partner, the fact that female solo travel is on the rise is very good news. From my own personal research, whenever a woman has said, “I’d love to go to X,” and I then ask, “Why don’t you?” the answer that usually follows is that they have no one with whom to go. Skipping the prom that is your life because you don’t have a date is pure tragedy. Carpe diem. Or YOLO, if you’re part of the Web gen. Whatever your age, just flipping go.
Another heartening piece of information that emerged from Booking.com’s survey is that the women involved said they feel more empowered and confident from traveling alone. You only have to do it once, and then you know you can do it again (except if it’s a zip line over the Nam Song river in Vang Vieng, Laos, your hands are wet, and you’ve had beer, then, unless you desire a purple thigh, you should stop after the first time). Plus, think of the mental doors that solo travel opens. Go ahead, finish this sentence (in the comments below): “If I can handle a trip by myself, then I know for sure that I can totally slay ___________.”
On the more serious side (only for a second), before a woman hits that “Book” button, security considerations will come to mind. Of course, the market is already responding accordingly. You can now purchase a lightweight, packable door security device from DoorJammer.com (but must everything be compared to an iPhone for scale nowadays?! What happened to using a pencil sharpener?). Some hotels have even dedicated entire floors as “ladies only,” complete with restricted access and cotton-candy-colored décor. This move has already been deemed discriminatory by a court in Denmark, however, with the CEO of the hotel involved, Bella Sky, now deciding to open the floor to all guests, saying, “If for some reason a male guest should find it interesting to stay there in the pink environment, they are welcome to do so.”
Friends with Fallopian tubes, have you traveled alone? Or would you? And what are your reasons?