Aussie women are travelling solo more than ever according to a report by booking.com
From the Cairns Post, 1st May 2014
SOLO travel. It’s a thought that can often produce bouts of anxiety, mild palpitations and beads of sweat.
But a recent survey by booking.com has shown, surprisingly, that solo travel is on the rise. In fact more than half of the Aussie women surveyed were more likely to go on a holiday alone than they were five years ago and 60 per cent of female solo travellers planned to do so again in the next 12 months.
So why has there been a rise in solo travel, especially when it comes to women? We talk to four Aussie women who all travelled alone for different reasons about what made them pack a suitcase … for one.
The “recharge the batteries” holiday
Brooke Campbell is a 31-year-old professional from Melbourne and author of the blog Show and Tell . She recently returned from her first solo holiday.
Two weeks away from the hubbie. Source: Supplied
“I have travelled alone previously, but usually only a few days either side waiting for a friend, never a full blown planned solo trip before,” she said.
Leaving her husband James at home, Brooke flew to Bali for two weeks to recharge the batteries.
At the risk of sounding cliched, Brooke says she found the experience empowering, liberating and free.
“I remember walking down the street feeling really liberated and thinking this was a good life skill to be able to do … it was the freedom of being able to switch off. And I loved it, every single second of it.”
Friends reacted with pity when she told them of her plans, “people actually felt sorry for me, they would say things like if you waited a couple more weeks I could come with you”, she said.
“But I said don’t feel sorry for me, I’m actually really looking forward to it.”
Finding her own routine, most evenings were spent at a local bar where Brooke met some incredible women.
“I met some beautiful women all doing the same thing, I met a gorgeous homewares buyer from Perth who was also travelling on her own and kept me company for one too many lychee cocktails, and another group of girls who invited me to have dinner with them.”
According to the report, women find that a boost in personal confidence is the biggest benefit to solo travel. “It made me put myself out there,” Brooke said.
Her tip? “It’s OK to tell a little white lie.”
“If someone approached me and I felt a little unsafe I’d say I’m just waiting for my husband to get back from the bathroom.”
So would she do it again? “Absolutely.”
The “send me to a retreat” holiday
So where do women like to go? The report found that 28 per cent of women preferred a spa retreat.
Kathryn Carter, a 31-year-old sales professional from Sydney, is currently in Thailand doing just that at a “no-excuses” health retreat.
Kathryn Carter, left, booked and left the next day. Source: Supplied
“I made a last minute call after the excesses of Easter and booked the trip to go the next day,” she said.
Having made many trips abroad by herself for work, this was her first holiday alone.
“I have travelled loads by myself for work, which has always been easier as you’ve had a purpose and almost a protective cloak as people won’t think you’re odd for travelling alone,” she said.
The best bit? “I can do absolutely anything I want. Anything. Which is pretty liberating,” she said.
The worst bit? “Not having friends to talk to, laugh with and share experiences with or look out for you.”
“The biggest challenges are my own company, it can get a little boring and lonely and too much time in your head isn’t a good thing for anyone.”
While Kathryn hasn’t had any earth shattering or Eat, Pray, Love moments … she says she’s not finished yet.
The “I need time out” holiday
Let’s face it, we’re all pretty busy individuals and sometimes we just need a little time out.
Pip Band, a 33-year-old communications manager from Sydney, felt just that and took a last minute trip to Darwin on her own.
“I wanted to do something different and I needed some genuine time out,” she said. “I wanted a short break, somewhere hot and I’d always looked at Darwin on the map.”
Taking a week off, Pip headed north to unwind and switch off.
“Going alone meant that I got to do exactly what I wanted without running it past other people and I like spending time by myself,” she said.
It is this sense of freedom and liberation that weaves a similar thread through these women’s stories.
“Freedom was the best bit, and it was liberating too,” Pip said.
The worst bit? “Meal time. I’m not very good at doing the meal thing solo.”
After a few days in Darwin, Pip headed to one of the nearby national parks where she camped in a permanent camping ground.
So any downsides? “I had to go to bed when the sun went down and that part was a bit lonely,” she said.
Only the car for company. Source: Supplied
The “last minute” holiday
Sometimes it’s hard to rally the troops but that shouldn’t be a deterrent to taking your annual leave.
Elizabeth Maxwell, a 31-year-old doctor from Sydney, needed some time out from ward rounds and a busy city life.
“I’d just come out of a long-term relationship and I hadn’t organised any leave but I wanted to have a holiday at short notice,” she said.
Putting her essentials into a backpack, she boarded a plane for Central America visiting Guatemala, Mexico and Belize.
“It’s hard to find people to come at the last minute and I didn’t want that holding me back from having the holiday I really wanted. The benefit of travelling alone was that I could do exactly what I wanted in a limited amount of time,” she said.
The best bit? “The fact that you can take each day as it comes and do what you want to do. You can change plans at short notice and be more spontaneous,” she said.
The downside? “It would be nice to have someone to share the experiences with.”
So what did Elizabeth find out about herself? “I was braver than I gave myself credit for and I enjoyed my own company more than I thought I would.”