Most of you know I have no problem going on trips by myself. But take a look at this survey on Travel Pulse:
Solo travel is increasingly popular but, according to a new Allianz Global Assistance survey, there are still many people who have yet to travel alone.
The survey found that 30.4 percent of Americans say they have never traveled alone, and those who have are more than five times as likely to travel domestically rather than internationally.
The survey also found that most respondents who said that they had traveled solo had done so for business, rather than for pleasure. Just over 27 percent said that they traveled alone on a domestic business trip while 21 percent said they traveled alone for leisure. On an international trip, 3.2 percent said that they traveled for business and slightly more, 4.8 percent, indicated they left the country alone for a leisure trip.
The survey found that men are more likely to travel solo. More than 35 percent of women said they had never traveled alone, and 25.2 percent of men said they had never traveled alone.
Of course, safety is a major concern when hitting the road alone but mostly for women. More than 76 percent of men said that they have never felt unsafe while traveling alone. In contrast, just 60.3 percent of women said the same.
While men may not feel unsafe, male solo travelers seem more susceptible to theft, with almost 10 percent (9.7 percent) reporting that they have been mugged or pickpocketed (versus 6.1 percent of women).
Harassment is definitely more of an issue for women on the road. Almost 40 percent of women (38.9 percent) said that they have been catcalled while traveling alone, compared to just 11.6 percent of men.
More than a quarter of Americans (25.6 percent) say they have been overcharged or ripped off while traveling alone.
Females concerns are similar: Being out after dark is the second most concern for women (26.3 percent), followed by violence/terrorism (15.7 percent), natural disaster (9.6 percent) riding public transportation (9.4 percent), security/safety of drivers (7.8 percent) and visiting a restaurant/bar (3.7 percent).
Women employ a variety of strategies to stay safe when traveling solo. Nearly sixty percent (59.9 percent) of women avoid walking at night to keep themselves safe while traveling alone. Forty-seven percent inform others of their location, and more than 32 percent avoid conversations with strangers. Other strategies include dressing in a way that won’t draw attention (30 percent), moderating alcohol consumption (27 percent), and avoiding busy tourist areas (14 percent).
Surprisingly, there are still many female solo travelers who don’t employ any of these strategies, nearly 20 percent, according to the survey.
Needless to say, I have a few comments to add. When I travel alone, I feel free. I have no commitments for activities, meals, or rest. But I never really feel alone. I often join a walking tour led by a local, or find out the best place to hang out with locals. Or, I just wander around until I find something of interest to me.
When I traveled on business, it seemed like I was busy, all the time. Less time for myself, and always thinking about work, and getting back home ASAP. Leisure travel is totally different. The focus is fun and meaningful experiences, which should be the focus.
By far, the most intimidating event for women is dining alone. This is easily solved. I generally pick a restaurant or bar with a counter. This not affords a great view of the restaurant, it increases the likelihood of interaction with other guests. On a recent trip to Amsterdam, I ended up at the counter of a seafood bistro. Unable to get a table, I sat at the bar, and met some rather interesting people.
First, I met a pair, man and woman, traveling on a business trip from Luxembourg. Quite friendly, but then it gets better. They were soon replaced by a local couple, a veterinarian with a TV show, and his Indonesian wife. They ended up sharing their dinner with me. We had several rounds of drinks, and ended the evening with a shared dessert. It was a most enjoyable evening that started out alone.
And you probably remember the story of my adventures on the Trans Siberian Railway a few years back. On the first part of the trip, I was in first class, though certainly not a first class experience. The, after missing my train in Ekaterinburg, I was stuck in a second class roomette with three stinky Russians. Fortunately for me, I met up with three Russian Ph.D. candidates, on their way back from a convention. We spent the next few days talking, sharing food, and otherwise passing the time in a most enjoyable way! It was probably the most enjoyable part of my entire Trans Siberian trip.
I encourage you to do a solo trip at least once in your life. It will change your outlook! Though I enjoy traveling with someone, I find the solo trip truly liberating. Time and hunger are my friends. I do what I want, when I want. And I eat when I am hungry!!!