As Women’s History Month comes to a close for 2019, it is a good time to reflect on both how far women have come and how far they go…alone. The rise of the solo female traveler is a somewhat recent phenomenon but one that steadily climbs.
Solo travel has become increasingly popular. Mintel’s 2018 Solo Traveler Report showed that 17% of adults reported they took a vacation on their own within the last five years (15% were completely solo trips without a travel group). This shows a two percent increase in solo travel from the year before.
Though it may come as a surprise to some, the majority of these solo adventure seekers are female. A 2017 study conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates reported that 26% of millennial women have taken a trip solo. The same study found that another 27% of this population who have not yet traveled solo would consider it. Even Travel Insurance Services, partner to the New York State Bar Association Insurance Program, has many women on the team who have or regularly travel solo (read about Arielle, Patti and Karen’s experiences on the blog!).
However, while women are increasingly venturing out alone, there can still be an air of trepidation that hovers over the thought of solo female travel. And this is not an unfounded or outdated fear, as the news reminds us frequently. But with a little planning, preparation and awareness, safe solo travel can be a reality.
Below are a few of our top tips for women (or anyone) looking to travel solo in 2019:
#1: Do your research. Travel research is typically one of the first and most fun parts of the travel experience. Looking up exciting new locations to visit and making those decisions is thrilling! However, between reading up on the best resorts and restaurants in your destination, be sure to spend time reading up on the location’s safety for female travelers. Recent articles and reviews highlighting cases of women being harmed, harassed, etc. around a certain area should be taken very seriously. It is also important to understand the culture of your destination. Take a look at this list from Trip by SkyScanner of ten places female travelers should be wary of and tips for visiting them.
#2: Be prepared. We say this a lot but you can never say it too often. And, we don’t just mean to pack your travel documents or enough sunscreen. Being prepared is the best way to avoid bad situations and therefore maximize your travel experience. Pack smartly--being weighed down by over-packing slows you down and makes you a target. And download important travel documents or forms--such as addresses, reservation information, etc.--in case you do not have access to the internet at any point.
#3: Keep it on the down low. Posting your exact location on social media can pose a threat in a few different ways. First of all, it lets potential thieves know that you are not home and therefore puts your belongings at risk. Additionally, sharing your exact location or ‘checking in’ online to a specific place opens you up to getting targeted. If you want to share your experiences on social media, wait to post about your location or check in to places after you have left that area or have arrived back home safely. #latergrams can be just as fun as the insta-version!
#4: Keep your head up. Always look confident. Acting unsure, afraid, lost or staring at a map can turn you into a target. Exuding confidence, even if you are feigning it, can be one of your greatest assets in not only warding off potential danger but also in helping you to remain calm while figuring out where to go in a new place. So, square your shoulders, hold your head up and walk with a purpose (even if you are still looking for it!).
#5: Don’t be afraid, be smart. Travel, whether with someone else or alone, should be seen as an exciting experience and opportunity to explore, learn and connect. As with all things outside your comfort zone, there are risks involved even in some of the safest-seeming areas. Which is why it’s important to be smart while also being open to your new experience. There are numerous sources, including the U.S. Department of State, offering safety tips, travel advisories and resources for women traveling either domestically or internationally. Additionally, be aware of other resources around you while you are away from home. Plan ahead, speak with others who have traveled to the same or similar location, and ask your host or concierge about your plans in the area.
#6: Buy travel insurance. A travel protection plan not only covers your travel investment in case your trip is cancelled, delayed or interrupted, but perhaps more importantly, it protects YOU! All of our travel protection plans include medical coverage for accidents, emergency medical evacuation should you need to be transported to a more adequate facility, and 24/7 travel assistance to help with virtually any predicament you encounter while away from home. Visit your NYSBA Insurance Program's Travel Insurance page to view the travel insurance plans available to you and get a free quote.