Why Women Don’t Travel as Much as They Should
One of the reasons I started my travel business was because I realized, like me, there are many other women around my age, who don’t travel as much as they should. They want to travel to exotic countries, check off their bucket list items and experience the world, but for one reason or another, they don’t get to do so. According to Go Girl Guides, some of the reasons why women don’t travel include not wanting to leave their partner behind, they can’t get time off work, they just got laid off or they feel they are too old to travel.
Other reasons include, lack of finances, lack of time, stigma and/or disapproval from family and friends, and having no one to travel with.
In this article, I am going to address the last reason mentioned—having no one to travel with, specifically as it relates to women of a certain age like myself.
If you’re a woman reading this and the reason you don’t travel, is because you have no one to travel with, continue reading. If you know other women who don’t travel because they have no one to travel with, share this article with them.
Are you missing out on experiencing the world because you have no one to travel with?
A big reason why women don’t travel as much as they should, is that they have no one to travel with—even married women and women with a life partner or significant other they’ve been in a long-term relationship with.
I network with many awesome women who run their own small business. They work hard all day, every day, but they don’t very often take time for themselves on a day-to-day basis, let alone travel the world. Generally, unless it’s part of their business, travel for pleasure usually ends up at the bottom of their to-do list, particularly if it means leaving their partner behind, and/or having no one else to travel with—even for those women with a huge bucket list of travel destinations!
Many female entrepreneurs who, when they left the corporate world to start their own business, thought they’d have more flexibility to do what they want when they want, but find that’s not always the case, particularly during the early years in business.
After several years of running a successful business, generally, on a day-to-day basis, their time does tend to be more flexible compared with that of women with a job, especially for those who learn to delegate. However, that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to taking a vacation, particularly checking off bucket list destinations or going on that trip of a life time they always dreamed of.
I do hear many women complain that they don’t have time for a vacation or they lack the funds needed to enable gthem to check off their bucket list. But for many, having no one to travel with is also a big reason for not travelling more.
Some of the reasons why women over 50 have no one to travel with
Single again or between relationships
One of the reasons some women over 50 have no one to travel with, is because they suddenly find themselves in a new chapter of their life, when the kids have flown the nest, and their marriage or long-term relationship has ended, or they’ve sadly lost their life partner. Now single, or between relationships, with grown-up kids either in various parts of the country or with their own famliy, they no longer have someone to travel with. Over the years, their annual vacations, and pretty much their entire life, always centred around what their kids and hubby wanted or needed. Now on their own, they find themselves with few friends who are in a similar situation.
Partner has no vacation time
Some women who are in relationships don’t always have someone to travel with either. Even if they have the time to go on a bucket list vacation themselves, their partner may not be able to get time off work at the right time. Many jobs only permit vacation time off at certain times of the year—the holidays, Easter, and summer shut-down—times of the year when it’s more expensive to travel and when popular tourist spots are likely to be crowded, or even over-crowded.
Hubby prefers staycations
Then there’s women whose hubbies do not want to travel with them. They can get the time off work, money isn’t necessarily an issue. However, they have no desire to travel to far off exotic places to visit ancient monuments and UNESCO World Heritage sites, to trek the Inca Trail or Camino De Santiago, to spend time at elephant and wildlife sanctuaries, to become one-with-themselves at a Buddhist temple or take a cooking class in a remote village the other side of the globe. Instead, a few beers at the cottage by the lake, a golfing trip up-country, camping or fishing with buddies, or a weekend in the city for a sporting event are more in-line with their wish list.
No travel companions with similar interests
Some women who want to travel the world don’t always know other women (single or otherwise) with the same interests or desire to travel—even women with many friends. Their single female friends and female relatives either have no desire to travel, have different destinations on their bucket list or enjoy a different style of vacation. Their married or partnered friends already use their vacation time to travel with their partner or family and have no time left to travel with their female friends.
Why women don’t want to travel the world alone
It’s not something they’ve ever done before
For women of a certain age, who have no one to travel with (whether single or partnered), the idea of travelling the world alone freaks them out, especially if they’ve always travelled abroad with their partner and family. This is especially the case if travelling alone was not something they did before they became a couple and/or a parent. After many years of only vacationing as a family unit or with their partner, many questions go around in their heads preventing them from even contemplating checking off a bucket list destination, much less experiencing the entire world alone.
Who will I talk to? Who will I share the excitement of the adventure with? I don’t know the language, what if I get lost? How will I find the right way? What if I end up in a secluded area? How will I stay safe? Who’s going to know if something happens to me? What if I’m one of those women that end up on the news?
They wouldn’t feel safe travelling alone
The underlying reason why many women (of all ages) don’t want to travel the world alone is that they wouldn’t feel safe. Whether married, single or between relationships, even though they may have the time and money to travel and may not mind their own company, choosing not to travel alone is often a matter of personal safety. This is especially true when travelling to more off-the-beaten track locations and certain regions of the world—which are becoming the more desired bucket list destinations.
While there are many women who quite happily travel completely solo, and have no qualms in travelling off the beaten track alone, there are many who just wouldn’t feel safe doing so themselves. The more adventurous and fearless solo female travellers may have been doing it all their life (or a good number of years) and wouldn’t travel any other way. The risk is often worth the reward. But for most women, the idea of travelling across the other side of the globe to explore an exotic, remote, or unfamiliar country or region alone, is a scary thought.
Some countries are just not safe to travel solo
There are many countries (and some regions within generally safe countries) where travelling alone as a woman (or even a man, for that mater) may not be the best idea, and in some cases I would recommend against doing so, even though others do, particularly if you’re new to travelling alone. Being unfamiliar with the local geography, culture, traditions and laws, especially as they pertain to women, you could easily find yourself in trouble or in an unsafe situation.
There are of course many countries that are quite safe for women of most if not all ages to travel solo—Australia, New Zealand, the UK, much of Europe, Canada and the USA to name a few—and I myself would not hesitate to travel to these countries solo and know other women who have or are doing so. Language barriers aside, provided you take the same precautions you would in your own country when travelling alone to a new and unfamiliar area, solo travel can be an exhilarating and enriching experience.
What immersive and authentic travel options are there for women who want to travel alone safely?
Even in countries that are classified as safe to travel, there are still areas, regions and cities that you would be best to avoid if you’re a female travelling alone. Instead of winging your way in an unfamiliar country or region, where you might find yourself in an unsafe area, there are safer options.
Travel with a planned itinerary
If you truly feel that travelling solo will give you the most authentic and immersive travel experience, but you want to travel within your destination as safely as possible, having a planned itinerary is a much safer way to travel than just winging it.
Depending on your budget and where you want to go, a hop-on-hop-off bus or rail tour (both of which I will write about later) with planned stops and accommodations along the route, or either a guided self-drive tour or a customized FIT (fully independent tour) designed by a travel specialist or tour company are ideal options for travelling reasonably safely as a solo female.
Having a planned route and itinerary that include prebooked guided activities and experiences, knowing where you’re travelling each day and having accommodations arranged for each night of your trip, provide a measure of comfort, security and safety and will therefore reduce stress, anxiety and worry. Knowing where you’re going and staying each night will also give family at home some peace of mind too.
However, in countries or regions where these options are not available, it’s not safe to travel outside of resort areas alone or if none of these travel styles suit you, there are other options, depending what you want out of your trip.
Go on a authentic guided tours, excursions and activities
Rather than travelling alone at your destination, one option is to stay at a resort, with transfer to and from the airport included. During your stay at the resort, you can go on various guided tours of the region, heritage sites and historical monuments, as well as excursions that include immersive and authentic cultural, culinary or wildlife adventures. I have done this myself and had a wonderful time.
Tour buses and/or transportation to the activities, usually pick-up pre-booked clients from resorts in the area. Even if no one from your hotel is going on the same tour or excursion, there’s bound to be other female travellers from other resorts that you can connect with and even exchange contact information to arrange another trip together.
As well, when you stay at a resort, if you get to know the concierge, they may be able to introduce you to other solo female travellers staying there. In my case, I was also introduced to a local family staying at the resort who, not only enabled me to practice the local language, they told me stories about their everyday life and local culture. I also got to eat an authentic meal with a local family.
Take a cruise with off-the-beaten-track stops and authentic excursions
Another option is to take a cruise that stops at off-the-beaten-track ports and includes authentic and immersive guided tours, excursions and other off ship activities using local indigenous guides and tour operators. Not only will you have an enriching experience, but you’ll also be helping the local economy.
A smaller ship can navigate areas and stop at ports that larger ships can’t get to, and if you choose a cruise line that includes educational and cultural experiences and local cuisine on board as well, you’ll have a more authentic time in between ports too.
You’re bound to meet other solo female travellers on board, and they’ll likely have similar interests as you (why would they be there otherwsise?). Even though you may prefer your own company most of the time and can retreat to your room while on board, by getting to know one or two other female travellers, if you decide to go sightseeing in your free time together, at least you’ll have safety in numbers.
Go on an immersive escorted group tour
If you’re looking for an immersive, authentic and enriching experience, but prefer not to travel alone, an escorted group tour, especially one that caters to women only, is an ideal option.
Not only will you have safety in numbers while enjoying unique authentic and immersive experiences, you’ll have the opportunity to meet and get to know other women with similar interests. Spending several days togehter, you’ll likely make a bunch of new friends. Then, when you want to travel to a new bucket list destination, chances are you’ll have someone else to travel with next time!
Read why an escorted group tour is ideal for female travellers here.
Stay safe no matter which option you choose
No matter which of the above options you choose, follow the same safety precautions you would if travelling abroad with a partner or friend (or even while travelling alone in your home area), i.e. don’t leave your drink on the bar unattended, don’t get drunk, don’t hang around with groups of people who are drinking excessively or taking drugs, don’t stay out too late (especially in areas that are not well-lit or populated), don’t walk alone at night in unfamiliar, secluded or badly lit places—including on resorts, etc. etc. While you may think these safety precautions only apply to younger women, they should also apply to us women of a certain age too! (I will provide safety tips for women travelling alone in a separate post.)
Don’t let the thought of travelling alone stop you!
There are many travel options for women who don’t have someone to travel with to experience the world reasonably safely, so you if you don’t have someone to travel with, you shouldn’t let the thought of travelling solo stop you.
While a hop-on-hop-off bus or rail tour in India might not be your idea of safe travel, or a guided self-drive tour or FIT across southern Europe may not be in your budget, there are several other options (and destinations) to choose from.
Choose what fits your style of travel, budget and level of comfort and take the same safety precautions you would at home when out and about alone.