Holidays & Travel

How to have the best holiday as a female solo traveller

Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, Sarah Marshall recommends tips and holidays for women holidaying alone.

It’s possible for women to embark on the trip of their dreams while staying safe
Women in Morocco (Intrepid/PA) It’s possible for women to embark on the trip of their dreams while staying safe

All too often, people miss out on the holiday of their dreams because they can’t find a willing travel partner. But in the past few years, women in particular are refusing to wait around any longer.

“We’re seeing a strong rise in the appetite for female solo travel, particularly in the years post-pandemic, with searches for single rooms up significantly and Google searches for the same topic quadrupling between 2020 and now,” says Tim Hentschel, co-founder and CEO of HotelPlanner.

Safety is a primary concern for most women venturing out alone – especially first-timers. Hentschel recommends researching destinations thoroughly beforehand.

“Ensure you are well informed on local customs, laws, cultural norms and safety record. It goes without saying that it’s not advisable to visit a destination which has a record for violence against female travellers.”

RAR7JY Female hiker with backpack along the Sawtooth Lake trail in Idaho. Back facing camera. Concept for solo female travel and hiking backpacking (Alamy Stock Photo)

Staying connected with friends and family is also important. “Regularly check in with them during your trip and have a reliable means of communication, such as a fully charged phone or portable Wi-Fi device,” he says. It’s also advisable to share an itinerary and any contact details for hotels and tour guides.

In terms of enjoyment, one of the best ways to explore a new destination ‘alone’ is on an escorted tour.

“Travelling solo for the first time can be a daunting experience,” admits Colum McLornan, managing director of Friendship Travel. “Our recommendation would be to join an organised group trip where you will be accompanied by other solo travellers, both new to solo travel and well accustomed to it.”

Macs Adventure, who also run group tours, say solo travel is an area that’s growing in popularity, with bookings from guests choosing to take their walking holiday alone up by over 30% year-on-year.

“There is a clear theme in the solo walking trend where we are seeing clients choosing to undertake ‘milestone’ walks alone, even if they are quite intrepid and challenging,” says Fiona Marshall, head of product at Macs Adventure. “The sense of camaraderie on these point-to-point routes undoubtedly helps people along the way. We are hearing stories of the motivation for these trips being rooted in a desire for reflection, moving on in their lives or marking a significant event, big birthday or retirement.”

Any women considering a solo adventure should take a look at these trips.

Cultural immersion in Morocco

women in Morocco

Holiday company Intrepid say half their bookings are from solo travellers, and nearly 70% of those are women – ranging from people in their 20s taking a quarter-life gap year, midlife women ready for a new adventure now their children have grown up, and retirees eager to tick off bucket list destinations. The company offers a series of small group tours for women only, led by female tour guides, including the eight-day Morocco: Women’s Expedition. Dine with Amazigh families in remote homes, see how an artist co-op is empowering female rug-weavers in small villages, and hike through the M’goun Valley over four days with the region’s first local female guide. From £787pp, including transport, accommodation and activities. Visit Intrepid.

Embark on a pilgrimage

Female pilgrims on the Camino in Spain
Female pilgrims on the Camino in Spain (Alamy/PA) Female pilgrims on the Camino in Spain (Alamy Stock Photo)

Walking the famous Camino de Santiago in Spain is as much about the people you meet as the places you visit. Hike the last 100km of the Camino Frances from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela, passing through rural Galicia and ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. This well way-marked route attracts many other pilgrims, making it an ideal option for a solo independent traveller. A six-night break costs from £645pp, including B&B accommodation and daily baggage transfer. Flights extra. Visit Macs Adventure.

Take a river cruise

Malrome, Toulouse-Lautrec’s family home, France
Malrome, Toulouse-Lautrec's family home, France (Alamy/PA) Malrome, Toulouse-Lautrec’s family home, France (Alamy Stock Photo)

Less intimidating than being on a big cruise liner, river cruising is ideal for solo sailors. Uniworld, who carry an average 120 guests on their vessels, have waived solo supplements on 17 of their itineraries for 2024. Their Brilliant Bordeaux seven-night all-inclusive trip includes a visit to Château Malromé to explore the life of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Médoc oyster tasting, a bike ride amongst the prestigious Médoc vineyards, a walk and wine-tasting at the hilltop town of Saint-Émilion, a farmers’ market tour in Libourne and an evening visit to Bordeaux’s Bassins des Lumières, a disused submarine station transformed into an immersive art experience. From £2,899pp, including transfers and flights. Visit Uniworld.

Go on safari

The Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta (ABC/PA) The Okavango Delta

Experience two of Africa’s best safari regions, Botswana’s Okavango Delta and Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, while supporting female empowerment projects in local communities. In between game drives, learn about a female guide programme spearheaded by African Bush Camps. Enjoy drinks around the campfire, spa treatments, and the comfort of knowing your stay will contribute directly to the local area. An eight-night, all-inclusive trip staying at Khwai Leadwood, Okavango Delta, Thorntree River Lodge, Livingstone and Somalisa Camp, Hwange National Park, costs from £6,600 per person including return flights. Visit Mahlatini.