'I design women's holidays for a living. Here's my advice for women travelling solo.'

Intrepid Travel
Thanks to our brand partner, Intrepid Travel

Travel is well and truly back on the agenda in 2023. For many of us, it's been a hot minute since we've planned a big overseas trip. Can any of us even remember how to? From picking what countries you want to visit, where to stay, who to trust, what to do, and how to find the most Instagrammable meal (to make your friends back home wish they’d muted your profile), it’s…a lot. 

People are yearning to get off the beaten track, to experience the unusual and unexpected, but our time is precious, and our priorities have changed. More of us are thinking about solo travel than ever before, and unsurprisingly, it’s mostly women seeking those solo experiences and the empowerment they bring. Intrepid gets it. It’s why they’ve developed a range of Women's Expedition tours around the world that are pre-planned, tried and tested.

Watch: Don't ever let a Sagittarius travel alone... EVER. They won't make it back. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

"Women seeking those really authentic experiences seem to connect on a different level with each other. Travelling in an all-female group means that women can connect more directly with each other experiencing a different culture, whilst also giving local women a really amazing opportunity to share their stories of challenge and triumph."

Jenny Gray is the Senior Product Manager at Intrepid Travel. She gets to design these tours for a living, so naturally, we picked her brain for all her best advice on how to make the most out of our next adventures.


Why is solo travel so appealing to women? What’s holding us back?

There's something empowering about packing up and setting off on a trip on your own, having the opportunity and the time to fill your cup. Doing something by yourself and for yourself is really empowering but of course, it comes with the normal concerns for any traveller but in particular, female travels, around safety. 

We know that 80 to 83 per cent of Australian women are concerned about safety when it comes to solo travel, and it can get lonely, plus the inconvenience of time – some people love putting a trip together, but it's really time consuming. 

On an Intrepid tour, you can have that empowering solo travel experience, in the comfort of a small group with other like-minded people. There's also appeal in travelling with an expert local leader who knows the ins and outs of where you're travelling, the itineraries are pre-planned; tried and tested. Plus, you get the comfort of travelling with an established brand who has a reputation of delivering good trips safely.

How have travel trends changed in 2023?

People are seeking out those 'bucket list' experiences, more than ever before. Perhaps that pent up urge to travel and tick things off the list of people have spent years waiting for or dreaming of, they’re now prioritising actually making it happen. We're also finding that a lot of people are choosing more comfort over entry level standards.

How does a solo holiday or small group tour differ from more traditional 'touristy' trips?

In general, they have those real authentic local experiences and types of things that you're not going to generally find on your own or read about in the guidebooks, which is something travellers are seeking more and more these days. And we certainly see that in the feedback from our own travellers – that people travelled to India to see the Taj Mahal. Yet when they go on a women's expedition in India, that's not what they come home raving about. They come home raving about the little home cooked meal they ate in an Indian woman's house, where they learned how to make some of the local food, whilst hearing about this person’s life and culture and family. 


As someone who designs these trips, how do you take all the feedback and anecdotes from what travellers are looking for?

It's really about finding those genuine, authentic experiences. We build opportunities to connect with people, to delve into the triumphs and challenges of their lives and to dispel a lot of those misconceptions about people. Particularly on these female-group trips, we allow women enough free time to explore and discover on their own, and we seek out experiences that would be off limits to mixed-gender groups. Another focus is to empower female-led businesses and suppliers when we design the trips.

What are some of the misconceptions about travelling in certain countries?

We have an amazing team of local leaders that we work with in Iran, and I am always really embarrassed to say that, like some, my perception of Iranian culture and our view of Iranian women was completely incorrect. 

On my last trip to Iran, I had this really amazing opportunity to go to a women's salon with a couple of our female leaders. Most of our leaders in Iran are women. They're highly educated, they're voracious, they're independent. They took me to one of their local salons that I would never have found on my own; they pulled back the curtain when we went inside – their hijabs came off, jackets came off, they wore exactly what they wanted – bright red nails and purple hair, and listened to American pop music, and the conversation was lively. The music was blaring, and I sat there and got my nails done, one of the girls with me got her hair done, and I just had this incredible moment of reflection where I thought, ‘this is exactly what travel is meant to be about.’ It’s dispelling those preconceived ideas and misconceptions that we have about other people and cultures, and getting under the skin of a destination in its most authentic form. 


It's connecting with women and realising that we're more alike than we think. These are the candid moments that happen quite often and authentically when you’re being shown a destination by a local leader. It’s where they live and work, it’s their home, and so they're able to show you these pieces of their real lives.

What's your advice for those considering solo travel, but feeling intimidated by it?

Share your itinerary with your friends and family before you travel, so they know where you're going to be. Make sure you've got copies of your document like your passport, your travel insurance, the itinerary. I always email a copy to myself and to my family as well. 

Consider a small group tour. If you're feeling intimidated about travelling solo, a group tour is a great way to still travel on your own and then potentially have some free time on your own before and after a tour as well. You can post on socials, your loved ones can be updated on where you're at, and know that you're safe.

Image: Intrepid.


Another tip is, when I’m heading out and exploring a new city, I always take a business card from the hotel that has the address and name in the local language, because sometimes taxi drivers might not know a hotel by the English name, or they might need to see it visually. Search from apps with local maps you can download that don't require you to have a Wi-Fi connection while you're out and about.

Also, leave your expensive jewellery at home.

Remember not to let other people’s perceptions or fears impact your travel plans. Keep an open mind and be ready to embrace a new destination and new people for yourself.

Explore Intrepid's Women's Expeditions across the world in 2023 and beyond, including India, Morocco, Jordan, Pakistan and Iran.

Feature Image: Intrepid.

Intrepid Travel
Intrepid Travel is a world leader in sustainable experience-rich travel that has been taking travellers to discover the world's most amazing places for more than 30 years. Our mission is to create positive change through the joy of travel. We offer more than 1,150 trips on every continent and every one is designed to truly experience local culture. With our own network of destination management companies in 26 countries, Intrepid has unique local expertise and perspectives. Globally renowned as a leader in responsible travel, in 2018 our carbon-neutral business became the world’s largest travel company to be certified B-Corp.