Paula Froelich knows a thing or two about women traveling solo. You might find Paula riding camels in Egypt, skiing in Afghanistan, or behind the scenes at the Miss Universe pageant. Paula is the free-spirited editor-in-chief of Yahoo Travel. She is a travel writer with a video series based on her blog A Broad Abroad and an award-winning journalist writing about politics, travel and pop culture.
1. Statistics say that the 32 million single women are traveling solo, and that number exceeds men traveling solo. Why are more women traveling alone?
There are a bunch of stats out there – according to booking.com: 32 % of women said they travel alone to “give myself the chance to truly relax and unwind, while 30% said they do it to “escape my every day life.” Forty-four percent (44%) said they would travel alone to truly get time to themselves.
But I also think that – 1. women get more independent as they get older, 2. with technology it is safer and easier to feel more connected while you travel, and 3. solo travel allows women – who are usually the caretakers – to truly relax and not have to worry about anyone else. It’s a rare opportunity to be alone and enjoy something you like to do – where and when you want to do it without feeling guilty or stressing over someone else’s good time.
2. What is the most fascinating learning you have gleaned about women traveling solo?
I thinks it’s interesting that women, as they get older, are more fearless. I’ve traveled a lot for my blog A Broad Abroad, Yahoo Travel and my show, A Broad Abroad, and the majority of people traveling right now are women of a certain age… and it’s not to all the usual places like Europe or Canada… they are taking trips to Timbuktu, skiing in Afghanistan, trekking through Vietnam, you name it. A huge part of it is the feeling of “Well – I did what I was supposed to do. I got married, had kids, worked at the right job and now.. I want to do something for me.”
3. What kind of female-friendly amenities do women look for when they travel? What do they expect in technology?
I know what I look for: hotels with women only floors, or at the very least, hotels that won’t stick me on a ground floor. WiFi is also VERY important – and it really irks me when hotels charge for it. If Howard Johnson’s ain’t charging, why are you?
4. Are there certain countries that women are not accepted as solo travelers?
I wouldn’t say not accepted but some countries are more difficult than others. Traveling solo in parts of the Middle East can be challenging, but then again, so can traveling in Italy, where it’s very traditional and men are aggressive. I had a friend who looooves Paris and goes several times a year, but this last trip really upset her – traveling alone she was beset by unwanted offers and even went so far as to post this quote from Rhian Sasseen’s essay in Aeon magazine to her Facebook timeline: “A woman alone, unwatched, unchaperoned and without children is impossible for us to process.” When I asked her about it she said, “women in France aren’t able to ever be alone. Even if they are, it’s considered an invitation for a man to come up to her. Incredible.” So, yeah. There’s the obvious (Middle East) but also, frankly, many places in Europe and the West are still annoying. You just have to be able to go with the flow.
5. What are some fascinating travel trends for 2015 that women travelers have embraced?
Just the super uber trend of solo and adventure. The average adventure traveler is a 47 year old woman, not a Red Bull swigging 27-year-old dude – and women are all about culture and experience. And again, women are traveling either alone or in small groups where they don’t know anyone in advance of the trip.
6. Where in the world does Paula want to travel this year?
Oh I am hyped up about going to Mongolia, Japan and hiking the Ho Chi Min trail in Vietnam.