When you think of adventure travel, do young women in their twenties usually come to mind? This hasn’t always been the case in the past, as adventure tourism has been mostly dominated by men looking to escape from 9-5 jobs and assert their masculinity by climbing tall peaks and rafting dangerous rivers.
Adventure tourism was deemed as something women wouldn’t be interested in—shopping trips to London or a sojourn in Paris was mainly marketed to women travelers. Even then, they were usually advertised as getaways with friends.
This is true no longer—the adventure tourism market is booming with women. Famed outdoor company REI cites that nearly 58% of their customers are women traveling solo.
Despite worries about women’s solo travel and the dangers of traveling female, many are choosing to disregard warnings and go on their own anyway.
So why is adventure travel skewing female? And what does this mean for the travel industry as a whole?
Women choosing travel
As more women are waiting to get married and start families in order to pursue careers and avoid divorce, that means more and more single women travelers in their late twenties and thirties.
They have stable jobs and are attracted to the idea of booking a “vacation” that encourages self-discovery and learning.
However, financial stability and the single lifestyle aren’t the only reasons women are booking flights. Women are also more inclined to seek opportunities to travel solo because they are exposed to a safe world via media.
Adventure Travel News states, “Staying connected to friends and family while traveling is either a cause or effect of the phenomenon of the rise of the solo female traveler.”
Knowing that there is a safer world out there makes it more likely that some young women will choose adventure travel over that spa retreat.
Even vacations that might not have originally included some form of adventure activity are now adding it—42% offer these kinds of activities for tourists.
What’s more is that women are also more likely to share their trips on social media, fueling an already-growing industry.
The added boost of free advertising and a sector of women encouraging others to travel has made it almost impossible not to stumble across a friend or two who has spent their time off riding a camel in the desert or rafting in Costa Rica.
The influx of women on the road has slowly but surely changed the face of the travel industry and how it markets itself to potential buyers.
With the majority of travel bloggers as women, you find a disproportionate amount of advertisements geared toward women travelers, as well. It’s not only young women, either—the main age group of solo female adventurers is 25-45.
The future of travel is female
As a solo female traveler myself (and travel journalist), I can personally attest to this recent change in dynamics.
On a press trip to Peru that included hiking to Machu Picchu and kayaking down an Amazon tributary, two-thirds of the group were women, and a third of those were women who decided to travel solo.
It was inspiring to see so many women choosing to stretch their limits and to approach the challenging Inca Trail with gusto.
Perhaps more than any other industry, we can track the change in how women are viewed by society through the trips they book, to where, and whether or not they choose to go at it alone.
Most companies predict that the amount of women who choose to travel solo will only increase in the next few years.
It’s refreshing to know that the days of traveling alone as a solo woman are past and that we can look forward to a brighter future with fewer restrictions.
The rise of the female adventurer means that travel is likely to be much more possible for other demographics to have the same freedoms in the future.