Women travel. That is no mystery. However, did you know that a growing number of women hold the purchasing power in a household and those monies are going towards leisure activities at an astounding rate?

Marybeth Bond, cutely coined as The Gutsy Traveler is an expert on women’s travel trends and has unearthed some interesting statistics – surprising even to me.

80% of all travel decisions are made by women, regardless of:

  • Who they travel with.
  • Who pays for the trip.
  • Or where they go.

“An estimated 32 million single American women traveled at least once in the last year and about three in 10 made tracks five times or more, according to the Travel Industry Association.” 

According to the majority (55%) of travel agents, the most common reason women travel solo is because they value their independence and are sophisticated enough to travel alone. Some agents (28%) believe it is because they are interested in visiting an unusual destination, while 9% indicated their clients do so because they prefer making their own schedule. Only 4% of travel agents noted their female clients travel solo to reconnect with themselves [Women's Travel Habits - Travel Guard].

I never pictured my decision to forgo my home country as sophisticated, but I have been called worse names, so I’ll take that label without complaining.

It’s reassuring to know there are statistics to back up my ambitions, yet Marybeth notes that not every woman is built of the same mold.

“Women often travel together, and it is no different when it comes to booking trips. According to travel agents, the majority (91%) of female clients who book trips with other females are traveling with their friends, while only 8% are traveling with relatives.”

My personal experiences speak to this. Time and again, I’ve become the prize zoo animal – revered and studied by others. I am a rarity. Traveling alone is not always the first choice for a variety of factors.

  1. Fear. Even though I’ve ventured solo to some demanding locales (Brazil, Turkey, India) many women want strength in numbers to tackle these destinations.
  2. Sharing. We are social creatures and enjoy connecting and sharing our experiences with others. Not everyone is a malcontent like me.
  3. Time. My life choices are not for everybody and travel for many is a short-term pleasure.

Traveling solo can be intimidating to many, especially women in their 40′s and 50′s. Which is an irony because that age group has the most mobility and income to travel.

Options for female travel may appear limited to hyper-adventure trips or dowdy, one-tempo tours, but there are a select few who present a unique selection.

A Vancouver based company called Indus Travel is offering an interesting alternative. One that marries safety with adventure. WOW tours – Women Only Worldwide Tours has approachable packages for daunting destinations such as Morocco or Egypt.

I promote and write a fair amount about the curatives of solo travel, yet group travel has it’s benefits as well.

  • Safety: the worry of who you might encounter or deal with is removed.
  • Coverage: I admit to having missed things on my own, that sometimes a travel company can display on a platter. They do the thinking for you.
  • Cost: knowing figures beforehand can take the stress out of budgeting. Or winging it – which is my methodology (not always sound!).

Though my first instinct is to venture to the beyond on my own, I still maintain there is no perfect formula to traveling. Groups, solo or pairs – there’s ample room for any style of travel.

Which is why I think Indus’s packages can offer a great deal to women.

A few tours I’d recommend based on my own travels:

Northern Jewels of India - covers all the major cities I visited in 2010 and 2011, though I did miss Varanasi and Khajuraho. Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and are prime spots in the northern triangle. India is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a confounding, challenging country. For first time travelers – a package of this nature takes the edge off. With items like accommodation and food included, a lady can avoid substandard hotels and Delhi Belly.

Wow Turkey – the name of this tour speaks volumes. Istanbul, Istanbul, Istanbul. I heart that city. Turkey is the epicentre of civilizations and though I never made it to Pamukkale (mineral spa – wish I had) or Kusadasi (a dusting from Aphrodisias for this solo lady?) I did explore the boundaries of Cappadocia. It was mysterious and otherworldly, literally took my breath away. My advice to anyone who asks me about Turkey, is to seek out a cave hotel in Cappadocia, essentially a hotel created by the scores of caves jutting and twisting from the natural landscape. Joyously, this tour offers such a hotel experience. Seriously, one of the best sleeps I ever had.

Wow China – perhaps this is sly of me to include this since I’m residing in China, but for all the uniformed opinions about wild China – that it is daunting, unsanitary and downright unscalable – a human record of history, thousands of years old exist here. It can’t be ignored. This tour hits upon all the must-see places I can think of – Beijing, Xi’an, Guilin (boat cruise was my fave) and of course, Shanghai – one of the most thriving cosmopolitan cities in the world. To reassure those afraid of eating dog entrails, meals are included in the package price. Breathe easy.

A major plus to these travel packages is the size limit – only 6 to 12 people can sign up, which lends to that intimate girlfriend atmosphere that frankly, I miss sometimes.

I adore balance – and think Indus Travel can walk that tightrope of exciting, exotic destinations for women who want to travel with some ease, comfort and style.

I wanted to take a tour with them, but due to some exciting summer plans, I had to bow out.

If you are interested in contacting Indus Travel, visit their website or connect on Twitter and Facebook. They also manage and author a blog.

When Indus Travel approached me about their WOW tours, I was delighted for several reasons. One, they are a Canadian company, stoking the patriotic fire in me. Secondly, I’m always happy to promote female travel in all its forms. I hope you found this review useful and it encourages you to get out and travel! 

Photo: Fernando Rodríguez

All other photos:  Indus Travel