By Sheila Gallant-Halloran of Lush Life/ Vision Travel
Traveling as a solo lady, but NOT alone, is on the rise!
Women love to travel. Women travel solo for a multitude of reasons. We may not have a travel partner, we may have a partner who doesn’t travel, or we may have a partner but still want to travel solo. We are women, hear us roar! But…. Sometimes the roar is a little muted. We want to travel solo, but not alone. But, we might not know where to start, where to go, how to avoid the large solo supplements, how to stay safe, or how to find company to come along. Whatever your situation, I’m here to help, and say, “Please, go away!”
Women have long been adventurous travelers – we love to do cooking classes in Tuscany, walking the Prosecco Hills, cycling along the Danube River, doing a food tour in India, and walking on the seventh continent of Antarctica. And while some of us go off completely on our own, others of us want to travel solo – just not alone. And there are many reasons why women travel without partners and friends, as a recent AARP study found. We often don’t have someone in our circle of friends and family with the same time, money, or interest. Here are some of their findings:
57% of solo travelers couldn’t find anyone available to go on a trip they wanted to take.
45% wanted to go somewhere they wanted to go (but their possible travel partners didn’t).
35% sought a trip just for themselves (perhaps a break from responsibilities).
18% wanted time for person reflection. And …
17% wanted to pursue a hobby or interest (maybe you’re into skydiving, and your husband, knitting)
Another recent study by the Solo Travel Society and Booking.com showed that women travel solo for the sheer pleasure of it. Their survey found that 65% of US women are starting to take more vacations without their partner. Their study also found women travel solo because46% said freedom, independence and the chance to do what they want, when they want
22% said they weren't willing to wait around for others
15% said to challenge themselves and gain confidence.
Some people simply prefer to travel solo for their own rest, relaxation, or reflection; as a form of therapy (travel is the best kind); because they prefer their own company, or prefer to travel on own –own schedule, own choices; some prefer to take break from partner and/or focus on different interests (reconnecting together stronger later); some are inspired by Pico Iyer’s The Art of Stillness to disconnect from weapons of “mass distraction”. Some people don’t have a “travel partner.” Some may have a partner, but their partner doesn’t want to travel. Whatever your circumstance, I can help you.
It’s not always been easy to travel as a solo lady, but not alone. In the past, solo supplements/ charges were high; and most companies would charge 200% for solo traveler to be in a room or a cruise stateroom by themselves (essentially, you would pay for two people.) Few companies would halve their expected revenue to attract solos, and opportunities for solos when they did arise were often excess supply In other words, if there was a glut and/or oversupply, solo discounts would suddenly appear. Nowadays, though, we’re starting to see more men and women traveling solo – especially women! There are still cruise companies and tour operators with huge solo supplements; and we often still see the glut/ oversupply discounts for solos; but things are gradually changing. There is now a conscious decision by some companies to attract solo travelers, as there is finally a realization that this is a growing market.
I’ve been professional travel advisor for about 13 years now and have helped over 3000 clients travel. If you know Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, I’ve put in my 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in travel. Previously, an actuary, I helped people prepare financially for their untimely death – but as a travel advisor, I now help them embrace life. You could say I’ve traded “return on investment” for “return on life.” But given my propensity for studying numbers and trends, I started to realize over the past several years that many more of my clients are interested in traveling solo, but not alone. Either through death, illness, or divorce; life circumstances change. Others have partners who hate to travel, and they no longer want to continue coaxing an unwilling partner (or put up with them being miserable on vacation). Other have different interests (yoga vs golf). Others have difficult time encouraging friends to travel with them. Many women (in particular) find their circle of friends narrows over time (with moves, work, raising families, etc.). Others have friends who could travel with them, but friends don’t have same time or budget or interests. Others don’t have partner and are tired of caring – they just want to go.
I work with a lot of people. I do weekly ezine for my clients (with over 3000 people), an active social media presence, and several meet up groups. And I run travel events – on my own and/or partnering with travel partners. I’ve partnered with Shepherd’s Fashions to do many travel events. Recently, I started working to actively promote solo ladies traveling together. And Shepherds suggested we put together a travel evening and fashion show. We have an event on August 28th at the store, and you can register here. https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/travel-as-a-solo-lady-but-not-alone-fashion-show-travel-event-tickets-48300705711
As I work to actively promote solo ladies travel, I’m seeing a strong demand among clients and new contacts – but I’m also starting to see more supply from suppliers. And I track that.
Of course, it’s totally up to you how you travel. There is no right or wrong answer. Solo travelers are solo for many different reasons, but I realized there was an opportunity to work together, I could bring like minds together. I could share info, share solo travel options, and help solo ladies find a way to travel but NOT alone – plus, find ways to help them ease costs. I’ve been presenting opportunities to travel together, and even structuring small groups so that ladies can meet each other before hand. My idea is to offer value, peace-of-mind, fun, and convenience. Small escorted groups work extremely well for land tours, and cruises work well too – especially smaller river cruise ships, or expedition cruises. We can also organize completely independent trips. I present ideas, and it’s up to you to jump if a particular trip interests you.
It’s always fun to travel with those you have something in common with – and on August 28th, we’ll explore some ideas for friends of Shepherd’s Fashions to travel together too! Do you have an idea? Come along, and share!
On August 28th, I’ll share some group trip ideas, but here, generally, are four ways to make solo travel easier.Manage the solo supplement cost
- If there are huge solo supplements, solos are often stuck – few want to pay, but will if no other option
- Another alternative, of course, is to work with travel partners/ suppliers who reduce or waive the solo supplement
- Some cruise companies like Crystal are solo friendly (with often reduced solo supplements, and offering gentlemen ambassadors as dance partners)
- Other companies like Silversea have select dates with waived or reduced solo
- Some companies like NCL have some solo cabins select ships
- River cruises are Great for Solo ladies (River ships are the perfect size for socializing, River cruising is the most relaxed way to travel, No dining alone or awkward bill splitting, No shouting drinks at the bar, No or low single supplement)
- Other river cruise co. like Tauck waive solo supplements on lead in category (Every river cruise Tauck has will waive solo on category 1)
- Other river co. like AMA, Avalon, Uniworld waive solo on select dates and routes
- I track different offers of waive/ reduced
- I also track companies that offer a solo cabin on select ships (not meant as double)
- Other tour companies or hotels are actively recruiting solo travelers (eg Body Holiday in St. Lucia with their September Solo)
Go with a Small Escorted Group the is Friendly to Solo Travelers
- Several companies I work with regularly offer reduced solo supplements
- Others are open to ‘share’ or roommate programs (the tour operator or cruise companies partner you up)
- Companies offer small group escorted (or self-guided too)
- Many companies been around 40 + years – and have >40% of clients are solo travelers, and >60% of their solo travelers are solo women – they offer safe trips with guides on tested itineraries in a small group
Find a Travel Partner
- If you find a partner willing to split costs of double occupancy, you can also travel with a like-minded traveler
- Find someone here that you’d like to travel with - up to you to match up in terms of like interest
- You might just want to travel together (separate rooms) or you may want to share rooms (I have a 50 question survey to help guide the conversation)
Create a Group to Travel With
- You could become a pied piper and encourage people to travel with you, working to fill a group – you can earn money towards your travel
- Like interests – bridge group, choir group
Some of the group trips I’ve been putting together for my clients over 2018 and 2019 will be discussed Shepherds on August 28th. I have some details on my website at www.lushlife.ca but you can contact me for info if you’d like to learn more. (Or sign up for my weekly travel ezine here http://ow.ly/K4PPz )
Sept.18 - Italy Real Food Adventure,
Oct.18 - Seine river cruise,
Nov.18 - Amazon river cruise,
Dec.18 Danube river cruise Christmas markets,
Dec/Jan.19 – new year’s Baja wellness cruise,
Mar.19 – Iceland Northern Lights,
Apr.19 – Biking California’s Wine Country
May.19 - Spain Real Food Adventure,
Jun.19 – Italy Prosecco walking,
July.19 – Explore Machu Picchu,
Aug.19 – Australia,
Sept.19 - Rocky Mountaineer, and
Oct.19 - India
Remember my earlier blog here at Shepherds? We want to consider “stop ‘n sop” holidays. You’re the bread. The destination or travel experience is the sauce. You can stop what you’re doing at home – step away from your busy life, work, family, and responsibilities; and go somewhere, and truly experience it. The destination matters. How you travel matters. Who you see, and what you do, matters. That’s what I call “Stop ’n Sop” getaways.
I describe myself as a travel master chef. I have all these ingredients (or travel products and suppliers) I’ve referenced in my kitchen (or office tool kit), and I can blend them in a way to prepare the right meal (or travel experience) for you.
Before I was in travel, I was an actuary. I worked for 20 years focusing on financial analysis of risk. My conflict was that I travelled all the time for work, but I was run ragged, and didn’t enjoy my life. I discovered that non-work-related travel gave me peace, and it allowed me to unwind. Leisure travel was how I experienced the world. I started to “live” to travel. I realized I could to leverage my business skills, knowledge, and experiences to help others “live” to see the world. So, I partnered with Canada’s largest travel agency, Vision Travel, under the Virtuoso network; and set up my own boutique travel company, called Lush Life Travel. In fact, I’m writing this blog from my office this week at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, where I’ve just arrived for my 8th consecutive “Virtuoso Travel Week” with 5000+ of my nearest and dearest friends in the world of travel. We’re meeting to build relationships, learn what’s new in travel, and help ease the path for our clients to experience the world.
I have studied, achieved certifications, taken seminars, done oodles of familiarization trips and supplemented my personal travels, learned about my Virtuoso network of on-the-ground experts around the world, built personal relationships with industry partners, and won sales awards and client referrals in helping many clients travel. I would love to leverage my skills, knowledge, experiences, & relationships to help you travel as a solo lady, but NOT alone.
Check out www.lushlife.ca . Email me at email@example.com or call me at 613-837-0699 to arrange your travel consultation. You can also check out Kathie's Facebook Page and Website to hear more about her amazing work!