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International Women’s Day: The Rise of the Female Solo Traveller

Ahead of International Women’s Day, we’re looking at how solo travel is helping women over 55 feel independent, free and adventurous.

At Riviera Travel, we’ve long believed solo trips are a great way to experience travel and the world. Travelling alone allows you to challenge yourself and see destinations in a whole new light.

With International Women’s Day 2020 coming up on the 8th March, we wanted to join in with the celebration of women worldwide by looking a little closer at female solo travel. We’re interested in how women going solo feel about the experience, so we surveyed 2,000 UK residents to find out their thoughts.

female solo traveller river cruise

Enjoy quality time with yourself

The Perceptions of Solo Travel

First, we wanted to look at perceptions, to see which demographic people think would choose to travel solo. When we asked, “who do you think is the most likely to travel solo?”, we saw an overwhelming number of people assuming the younger generation choose to travel alone. One in five of those surveyed believed males aged 18-25 were most likely to solo travel, with a further 15% thinking females aged 18-25. Only 4% thought females aged 56-65 were the most likely jet off alone, and 1% thought females 66-75.

However, we can see that solo travel is becoming increasingly popular – and not just with gap year students. While half of 16-24-year-olds have been travelling on their own, the over 55 demographic doesn’t fall too far behind, at 39%. Looking at our female respondents, we saw over a quarter of women over 55 have travelled alone.

And this figure only looks to be growing. Our data shows a huge 142% increase in female solo travel over the last five years. So, why are women over 55 solo travelling, and how are they finding the experience?

Why Are Women Over 55 Travelling Solo?

We’re seeing a clear change in trends, with more women over the age of 55 taking the plunge and enjoying a solo trip away. We wanted to determine what motivates these women:

  • 41% travel alone because they enjoy their own company
  • 33% want to challenge themselves to do something new
  • 29% solo travel to put their needs/wants first
  • 29% enjoy meeting new people

The top reason women are travelling alone is relatively simple: they’re happy in their own company. There’s also a sense of being able to put themselves and their needs first – which solo travel unapologetically allows you to do.

female solo traveller escorted tour

Explore destinations at your own pace

We’re also seeing that women over 55 are not settling for the mundane. A third of women over 55 travel solo to challenge themselves to do something new, compared to just a fifth of men over 55.

The theme of challenge and adventure continued when we asked what people look for when travelling. While relaxation and scenery score highly for women over 55, we’re also noticing a desire to see new things. 57% of women over 55 say they want to see new things when travelling, compared to 47% of men over 55.

When picking a destination, women over 55 like to:

  • experience cultures different from their own (40%)
  • visit unusual destinations (30%)
  • stay away from the tourist trail (25%)
  • visit picturesque places they’ve spotted on social media (23%)

Despite stereotypes around older travellers, women over the age of 55 are proving they are adventurous with travel – for them, travel is about experiences. They’re also just as inspired by social media as younger generations; almost a quarter of women turn to social media when looking for a travel destination, with just over a quarter (26%) of Gen Z (16-24) females saying the same.

Looking at generational differences, we can see that two in five Gen Z females also want to experience new cultures. However, they were more likely than over 55s to go places recommended by others, they want to be near major attractions, and prefer popular tourist spots.

female solo tarveller boarding a plane

Visit a new destination on your solo holiday for a unique experience

Concerns Around Female Solo Travel

We were also interested in hearing from people who choose not to travel alone. What were the main things that put them off?

Only a fifth of people surveyed said they hadn’t solo travelled and wouldn’t consider it. Looking into the reasons why, there’s a perception that travelling alone could be unsafe – especially for women. Over half of those who wouldn’t travel alone said safety concerns are the main reason, breaking down into 73% female and 28% male. When looking at women over 55 who haven’t solo travelled, four in five said they are put off by anxieties around safety.

These worries are understandable, especially if you’re travelling completely alone. Many of these fears can be allayed by opting to ‘solo’ travel in a group on one of our solo traveller holidays. These holidays offer independence as well as the comfort of an expert who can help you navigate new and unknown destinations.

We know what’s putting some people off travelling alone – do these perceptions translate into real-life experience?

How Solo Travel Makes Women Feel

Interestingly, when we asked female over 55 solo travellers how the experience made them feel, the answers were overwhelmingly positive, with women telling us that travelling alone made them feel independent rather than anxious.

  • 57% of women said solo travel made them feel independent
  • 44% said it made them feel free
  • 34% said it made them feel adventurous
  • 30% said it made them feel happy
  • 29% said it helped them feel confident
  • 26% said it empowered them

The Best Things About Solo Travel

Finally, we asked all survey respondents what they think is the very best thing about travelling solo. Here are the most popular responses:

  • Freedom of choice and not having to compromise
  • Meeting new people
  • Finding yourself
  • Peace and quiet
  • Feeling independent and gaining confidence
  • No arguments

We can see that solo travel is a transformative experience, with people exploring the world alone in order to feel independent and gain confidence. Solo travel brings about a sense of freedom, allowing you to travel where you want, when you want, without having to compromise. We can also see that solo travel doesn’t necessarily mean being alone, and many people enjoy the social benefits that come from meeting new people through their travels – while also enjoying peace and quiet when they need it.

female solo traveller new friends

Make new friends on an escorted tour

If you’re considering setting out on a solo adventure, a solo traveller holiday, escorted tour or solo river cruise is a great way to experience the benefits of lone travel while remaining in the security of a group. You don’t have any worries over safety or security, while the wider group aspect allows you to be as sociable or as independent as you’d like.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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