What’s Behind the Boom in Female Travel

Girls-only trips have increased more than 200 percent over the past six years. It's only beginning.

May 21, 2018 5:00 am
Südamerika, Peru, Anden, Urubamba, Urubambatal, Region Cusco, Aguas Calientes, Touristin (w) mit rotem Rucksack blickt auf die Inka Ruinenstadt Machu Picchu mit dem Berggipfel Huayna Picchu
Südamerika, Peru, Anden, Urubamba, Urubambatal, Region Cusco, Aguas Calientes, Touristin (w) mit rotem Rucksack blickt auf die Inka Ruinenstadt Machu Picchu mit dem Berggipfel Huayna Picchu
Getty Images/Westend61

Women haven’t just recently stepped into the adventure travel space … they haven’t just in the last few years begun to pack their bags and explore this planet of ours … even though it might seem that way by an embarrassing lack of gutsy gals depicted on television. But even though the TV travel space has been dominated by white, heterosexual, 40-something-year old men …except for a few of us gals here and there … statistics show that actual travel is more of a lady thing … and becoming more and more so with every passing year.

More women were hitting the road last year than men, according to a recent article in Moneyish. Travel research company DK Shifflet found that 53 percent of women traveled compared to 47 percent of men. And it seems that more than 1 in 4 (28 percent) women travel alone or exclusively with other women — leading to a 230 percent rise in girls-only trips in the past six years, according to Gutsy Women Travel.

I would have to agree … and I speak from some solid personal experience. Not only have I been traveling solo or with gal pals for the last 10 years, but my all women’s great white shark diving trip is actually mentioned in the Moneyish article. That trip came to be because we realized that nearly half of the people visiting the website to check out diving with sharks were women! Not to mention that a good majority of shark advocates are in fact, women. Of all the years I’ve been heading out to Guadalupe I’ve always been impressed by how many ladies were coming solo or bringing their significant others along for the ride. I did. My first trip to Guadalupe was a gift to self and my significant other hopped on last minute to share the experience.

“Our 2018 women-only shark diving trip ($2,795 for five days) has sold out in record time, and we’re offering another trip this season to meet demand,” Horizon Charters rep Patric Douglas told Moneyish, who added that these trips are led by female professional shark divers too.

The ladies are becoming such a crucial part of the travel industry that their presence, their banknotes and their enthusiasm for a life of wanderings is being felt across the travel industry.

Adventurer, explorer, conservationist and TV Host, Alison Teal has been leading trips to her home state of Hawaii for years and seeing more and more women with a desire for an authentic and adventurous experience.

“Each year I offer an Alison’s Adventures trip to my home on the Big Island. I love to share with women that we don’t have to be tomboys to enjoy cliff jumping, Hawaii jungle archery, surfing – and achieving our biggest goals in work, personal or family life! My own life is a wild mix between hosting TV and online shows and diving into adventures around the world – all-male-driven realms,” Teal said.

So it seems that women are packing their bags, their wetsuits, their trekking shoes, their spear guns and heading out into the great unknown en masse. Want to read more about it? Check out my series, OfftheGrid Guide … all those trips are my solo adventures or with my equally adventurous female friends … Cambodia, Vietnam, Cuba, Belize, Mexico, Alaska … all gals.

Want to read more about amazing women kicking ass in the adventure space? Check out my other series, RealLife Lara Crofts … divers, shark scientists, volcanologist, spear fisherwomen, cave explorers, moto racers, pilots, acrobats, mermaids, explorers, packers, mushers, mountaineers, climbers, base jumpers…oh, my. These are the women heading out into the wilds and giving the lads a run for their money.

Paving the way for these modern trailblazers were some ladies with dirt under their nails and fire in their souls. Bet you’ve never heard of most of them …

Sir Percy Cox and famed adventurer and explorer Gertrude Bell speaking with an Arab leader during a visit to Mesopotamia. (Mansell/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Gertrude Bell, a writer, traveler, and archaeologist explored and mapped all around the Middle East, Asia, and Europe along with her buddy T.E. Lawrence …  AKA Lawrence of Arabia. Heard of him right? Yet, somehow Gertrude’s name was lost in the mists of time.

A newspaper article on Nellie Bly (1867-1922), an American journalist and around-the-world traveler. (Getty)
Bettmann Archive

Inspired by Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, American journalist Nellie Bly set out to recreate the famed fictional journey in 1890.  She did the original version of trains, planes and automobiles which included horses, pack-mules and rickshaws. Bly traveled across  England, France, Singapore, Japan, and across the USA …. completing the epic journey all in 72 days.

Explorer and travel writer Isabel Bishop, aka Isabella Bird. (The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Isabella Bird, author and adventurer, bucked social norms and traveled, often alone, to Australia, Hawaii, Japan, China, Indonesia, Morocco, and the Middle East. Bird was the first women to be inducted into the Royal Geographical Society of London in 1892.

Portrait of Jeanne Baré dressed as a sailor, dating from 1817, after her death. (Wikipedia)

In the 1700’s French sailor and botanist Jeanne Baré became the first woman to circumnavigate the world.

Those gals are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg … the OG Lara Crofts who scoffed at gender norms and rode off into the sunset with a wanderlust worthy of the finest explorers of the time. In their day they might have very well been the exception and not the rule. But times are changing and these days their spirit is more alive than ever.

In 2018 it’s not unusual to see a lone female, map in hand, making her way across the globe … even in some of the most remote regions of the planet. And these women aren’t all on an eat, pray, love sojourn to heal a broken heart. They are stepping out into the world in search of moments of awe, face to face encounters with massive, toothy fish and on the prowl for untouched surf breaks.


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