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May 25, 2020 | Guest Post
Solo travel has become more popular in recent years as travel has become more accessible. Men and women alike are breaking out on their own to embrace the feeling of independence and empowerment from solo travel. While the desire to travel alone is ubiquitous, we wondered if there were differences between how men and women travel? We looked into the data to compare and contrast the distinctions in how the genders approach solo travel. Not everyone fits within these characteristics and neither characteristic is necessarily good or bad. However, I think we can agree that traveling solo affords men and women different benefits and drawbacks.
Let's take a look at the differences, pros & cons, and some ideas for a better travel experience.
Packing - The evidence shows that 54% of males pack for their trip in the last 24 hours as compared to 46% of females. This means that more women organize and plan ahead what they are going to bring rather than waiting until the last moment to pack. On business trips, many women list packing as their top priority task, while men said that booking a hotel room was their top priority (SpringHill Suites).
Activities - Well, though the choice of activities men and women opt for while traveling mostly depends upon their personal preferences, their gender might have an important part to play in it. While men prefer more outdoor activities while traveling like going on hiking, paragliding, skiing, and mountain trails, women more than often like going to cafes, visiting museums, exploring historical sites, and shopping.
Safety Concerns - Safety consideration is the area where you would expect to see the most discrepancies between men and women’s way of traveling. While men are more concerned about getting into a fight, getting duped, or in the worst-case scenario being robbed, women's safety concerns are usually about being harassed, teased, raped, or murdered. Safety concerns for men and women while traveling solo is the largest disparity.
Destinations - In a 2018 study conducted by Hostelworld, an online platform for booking hostels, it was found that bookings by solo female travelers increased by 45% from 2015 to 2017, in contrast to a 40% increase for solo male travelers. Yet, the destination that male and female solo travelers choose tends to vary. According to a survey by the popular social travel site Hitlist, 60% of women had Europe as their pick for a solo travel destination as compared to 20% of men. The primary reason being that women generally consider Europe safer than other Asian, Middle Eastern, and African countries. 40% of men, on the other hand, chose Asia as their dream solo destination as compared to just 5% of women.
Help from Locals - This is one of the advantages that female solo travelers experience most. Locals are more likely to help a woman traveling alone than men. They are friendlier to women and would gladly help them with directions or offer any other similar help. And since you are traveling alone, you are also quite approachable. But this might also create problems for female travelers and can prove to be one of the disadvantages of traveling alone.
The benefits of being a solo traveler for both genders are mostly the same. Some of these benefits are:
Independence - The top benefit of solo traveling is the level of independence it provides to travelers. You step out of your comfort zone, make your own decisions, and travel freely, something which wasn't possible if you were traveling in groups. Another great benefit of solo traveling is that you are the only boss of your agenda. You can wake up whenever you want, decide to visit a place twice or skip visiting a place altogether, spend an entire day lounging in a cafe doing nothing at all or spend a day traveling to museums and historical sites. No one is going to ask you to modify your plans; it all depends solely on your mood. The feeling of independence you get while traveling alone is something you will never find while traveling in a group, not even while traveling with the best of your buddies. At some point in time, you have to compromise and put their wishes ahead of you, and that's what you don't have to worry about while traveling solo.
Meeting New People - Solo trips provide the opportunity to meet locals and other like-minded tourists. The bonds formed during travel are special, unforgettable friendships. If you are a shy person who is not comfortable with the idea of approaching strangers, several apps can help you in this regard. These social travel apps connect you with people who are going to the same places as you are so that you can plan a trip together, or connect with locals who can help you in exploring the city more intimately.
As you might expect, there are downsides to traveling alone, regardless of gender. Let's discover these cons:
Budget Concerns - For budget-minded travelers, one downside of traveling solo is that it nearly always works out to be more expensive than traveling as a couple or in a group. Traveling with other people affords the option to split expenses such as taxis, meals, and hotel rooms. It is also common for tour organizers to charge more for private tours if it is taken by solo travelers. If budget planning is not done right: solo traveling can burn a big hole in your pocket.
General Safety Concerns - This is the most common fear and disadvantage of traveling alone. Solo traveling is not unsafe but you have to be more cautious and alert at all times. While traveling solo, you are at more risk as there is no one looking after you. For women, these safety concerns matter more to them than men. According to a study by MMGY Global’s Portrait of American Travelers in 2019, 64% of women said that safety was extremely important to them while taking a trip, and this percentage has gone up from 51% in 2014. Safety concerns for women are now only second to cost factor when it comes to obstacles to taking a trip, according to the travel marketing agency. However, most of these safety concerns can be minimized effectively by being more alert and taking care of small things like not drinking a lot while traveling alone and locking your hotel rooms properly.
Getting Lonely - Solo traveling is fun, but after some time, you start craving for some company. And this feeling of being alone without anyone to share memories with comes at the most random of times. While this is a significant concern of traveling alone, it's nothing that can't be fixed. By using social travel sites like Xoxo Tours or Meetup, you can meet fellow travelers and interact with them and even meet the ones who are traveling to the same places as you are.
The number of solo travelers has skyrocketed in recent years and the tourism industry is finally taking notice. Travel brands are trying to cater to the needs of men and female travelers traveling solo by making their services more accessible and flexible. Let's have a look at how the tourism industry is treating both men and women solo tourists.
Men Solo Travelers - Men have been traveling solo for a long time. Most of the hotels usually implement single supplement fees on people traveling alone. This is a surcharge that people have to pay for traveling single rather than with a partner. This could make the trips more expensive than what was originally planned. Travel companies are now realizing how important solo travelers are for their business. And imposing a surcharge on travelers only because they are traveling alone and not with the company is not only unjust but also detrimental to the tourism business. That's the reason most of the travel companies have done away with this obsolete concept of a surcharge or have been keeping it at a very minimum rate. While a few solo travelers take vacations to get away from the world and have privacy and relaxation, most of them really wouldn't mind meeting other guests and like-minded travelers. Hotels keeping this aspect in mind are arranging their social gatherings, meet-and-greet events, and group workshops where solo travelers can meet other people and connect with them.
Women Solo Travelers - While there has been a significant increase in the number of female solo travelers, the primary concern for their safety and well-being has also increased. The tourism industry knows this and has taken a few important steps in this regard. Many hotels are taking additional steps to accommodate women solo travelers. Steps like 24/7 attended reception desk and security guards, secure parking spaces and cab-facilities are some ways women traveling alone can feel more secure. Apart from that, other tactics the tourism industry generally use to attract solo female travelers are:
Solo traveling is a beautiful experience that every person should undertake at least once in their lifetime, irrespective of the gender. It doesn't matter whether you are a man or woman, solo traveling will bring almost the same concerns and fears, though the degree may vary. And by being a bit cautious and wary of your surroundings, you can make this travel experience one of the best experiences of your lifetime. The tourism industry these days is paying more attention to the solo travelers than before and they are listening to your concerns, being more empathetic, and finding more effective solutions to make your traveling journey seamless, hassle-free, and more enjoyable and fun-filled.Back to overview
We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest.