We've heard all about how to “travel like a local.” But how about like a woman? To find out we asked Kelly Lewis, a pioneering travel publisher and founder of Go! Girl Guides and the annual Women's Travel Fest. Want to travel like a woman? Great. Start by planning a trip, and go any damn place you want!
Traveling the world is one of the best ways to better understand yourself and the world around you. But women face a disproportionately large amount of pushback in their quest to travel, either by responsibilities they can’t postpone (raising children, etc.) or by well-meaning family and friends who try to convince them it’s safer to stay home.
As the founder of several companies for women who travel, I’ve met hundreds of women who want to see the world but stay home because they’re afraid of what lies beyond.
But we can’t let that hold us back.
It all starts with taking charge of your travel planning. Over 80% of all travel decisions are made by women, accounting for a market that’s valued at over 19 trillion dollars, according to Gutsy Traveler. If you’re just starting out in seeing the world, however, don’t feel pressured to plan every little detail of your trip. Half the fun of traveling is being flexible enough to change your plans if you decide you love—or don’t love—a city you find yourself in.
Before you get on the plane, all you really need to know is where you’re sleeping the first night, and how you’ll get there from the airport.
Solo travel is on the rise, but many women aren’t traveling just to go somewhere—they have a purpose and intention. Whether that means volunteering abroad, trekking the Inca Trail, checking off a bucket list trip, or taking an extended writing retreat, having a reason behind your travels can help you keep on track, stay safer and feel fulfilled when you return home.
Safety is a big concern for female travelers, which means the way we travel is just slightly different. Our accommodations, for example, need to be in safe neighborhoods, with good lighting and easy accessibility. As a big promoter of women’s travel, I always tell women to budget a little extra for safety. In places like Southeast Asia, for example, the difference between a $10/night hotel and a $50/night hotel can be vast when it comes to safety.
Also, when going out at night, I always recommend female travelers have enough money on them to take a cab home from almost anywhere in the city. It can be exhausting having to always be aware of your belongings, your surroundings, and who might be noticing you, but that’s part of traveling while female. Awareness goes a long way.
This is a tip I heard at Women’s Travel Fest a few years ago, and I’ve adopted it faithfully ever since. I can’t tell you the amount of times women have come to my rescue when I found myself in less than desirable situations, or have been completely and totally lost. On long bus or train rides, I always try to be seated next to a woman. It’s one less concern to have when you’re tired and know you want to fall asleep.
A big part of traveling as a woman means finding the right support system—and telling everyone else to keep their opinions to themselves. If you live in an area where people don’t generally leave, your well-meaning friends and family might try to talk you out of actually going somewhere. Don’t let them!
There are so many responsibilities put on the average woman, and traveling is a much-needed and much-deserved break. Plus, traveling shows you your strength like nothing else can. There’s a power and a confidence you gain in yourself from successfully navigating through foreign environments.
Gone are the days where we market spa trips to women, and adventure trips to men. Women are hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, trekking through Iceland, and planning physically challenging and rewarding adventures.
Though the outdoor industry is still very male-dominated, the Adventure Travel Trade Association reported a rise in solo female travel in their 2018 report. The amount of women’s-only tour companies has risen by more than 230% in the last six years, according to Gutsy Traveler. There are dozens of companies that cater to every type of female traveler, at every age, at themed trips ranging from hiking and biking to learning creative skills like photography or writing.
Want to travel like a woman? Great! Start by planning a trip, and go anywhere you want. After your first successful trip you’ll quickly realize that with a little planning and common sense, almost nowhere in the world is ever truly off-limits. Trust your instincts, remain open and aware, and get out there.
See you on the road, ladies!