“A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places”- Isabelle Eberhardt
Right after the travel restrictions were lifted post the Covid lockdown, it was a sunny morning when 25-year-old Shreya gleefully boarded a bus from Delhi to Manali. Carrying a backpack on her shoulders, she exchanged glances with fellow travelers whose reaction read--solo woman traveler? She smiled to herself and coincidentally sat alongside a 70-year-old woman who had also decided to venture out on her own. “Hi, I’m Shreya,” she said, with a sense of belongingness. “Hello, I’m Ragini,” said the woman, as she tried to fathom the fact that solo travel for women is gaining ground, slowly but steadily. Sometimes, life surprises you when you least expect it. For Shreya and Ragini, reasons to travel alone were entirely different but the feeling was mutual. Both had their own journeys ahead and different ways to perceive them. Both of them had identified that they wanted to travel alone and it can become a part of their lives.
The rise of women solo travel
In India, traveling alone for women is still considered an uphill task, but female travelers are embracing solo travel. Women today have access to more means and fewer obligations than women of past generations. But those are not the only reasons why women are deciding to travel alone. Most of the female travelers are doing it for the feeling of self-empowerment and freedom it gives them. They fall in love with it, smitten by the travel bug. Others are traveling solo because they like it that way or are doing it for a living after bravely quitting their jobs. Women are venturing out on their own to find themselves, to create meaning and purpose, to earn as they travel, and to live their best lives solo. There can be several reasons that drive these ladies to seek the outdoors, but let’s evaluate how the scenario has changed over time.
Vacationing alone-What has changed
Earlier, women used to depend on someone to travel with. But with growing confidence among women and access to facilities, travel has become richer and easier than before. Initially, women couldn’t take personalized and experiential trips that they yearned for nor did they have the time to plan. The problem to plan and find someone to travel with is still prevalent, but women today have found its solution in solo travel. Better infrastructure, information and technology required to plan a trip are readily available. Today, we live in a world where women are becoming financially independent and have access to several booking and stay options. With the advent of numerous travel booking apps and websites, everything is now at their disposal with just a click of a button. Today, women don’t ask their husbands to take a leave or plan an extended weekend to travel. With so many booking options around, women are no longer skeptical about planning their itinerary and certainly don’t depend on anyone’s time or schedule to explore the world. While vacationing alone, many of them have discovered skills they never practiced while traveling with their partners.
A helping hand for small businesses
The concept of women traveling alone has not only liberated them, but also supported dozens of small businesses. Women in their quest to travel are exploring new locations, thus helping several local businesses and bringing the required economic development in these off-beat locations. These small business owners have set up and adapted themselves to meet the needs of growing women travelers. A lot of women focus on exploring various cultures through local art and music. Many travel for the love of different cuisines. For them, it’s not just about satisfying their taste buds, but about the culture, authenticity and experience. It’s about interacting with the local food joint owners who have devised new ways to prepare delicious food that may otherwise taste okayish. The vigour to travel to find new things drives these women to explore local art and culture. They endeavour to learn about the history and cultural significance of craft and curated experiences focused around a craft specific to a place and its people.
Driving force behind business strategies
Today, the rise in the number of women solo travelers is driving the business strategies of several travel companies, that are curating exclusive packages tailored for these female solo travelers. With 50% of travelers comprising women and growing number of solo travelers in the country, travel businesses are realizing the benefits of catering to this segment as they transform to meet the needs of this growing segment and provide them with the perfect travel experience. Female solo travelers have become an important factor in the functioning of both small and big businesses and these globetrotters are helping them in their own ways. Seems like the idea of women traveling alone has not only made the lovely ladies stronger, but also those who they encounter and meet during their journey.