Lifestyle / Travel

Squad Goals – Female-focused Holidays Are Trending

Why women are travelling solo and how it’s shaping some segments of the travel industry to cater to their whims and preferences.

Feb 15, 2021 | By Joe Lim

While solo female travel (i.e. female-focused holidays) and responsible tourism are terms that have been bandied about for years, the trends are still going strong and evolving. In the latest International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) Asia Pacific report, produced by CatchOn, the study’s result of 50 one-on-one interviews with travellers, luxury tour operators, spa consultants, travel journalists, wellness destination resorts and hospitality brands based in the Asia Pacific. The report identifies three consumer archetypes who will be driving the future of wellness tourism in Asia: Female Travellers, Affluent New Agers and Chinese Millennial Millionaires.

Female-focused holidays are the rage now

Female-focused Holidays
Recently, the two trends have converged in the form of exclusively female expeditions underscored by a socially responsible ethos. Such sojourns offer intrepid women the opportunity to travel – in greater safety – with like-minded counterparts and experience authentic local culture while giving back to the local community. “Travellers are increasingly choosing to vacation independently, but many don’t necessarily want to be alone throughout their trip. Novice explorers may be nervous about visiting a destination alone for the first time, and even veteran solo travellers may want the occasional companion to share experiences with,” explained Anthony Lim, managing director of travel company Insights Vacations, Asia.

Enjoying a train ride – women only!

Furthermore, he highlights the importance of making travel a force of good. “While there is an urgent need to protect the planet from further destruction, we also need to safeguard the one in 10 people globally whose livelihoods depend on tourism. Hence, we need to work harder than ever to ensure that we travel consciously and with respect to the destinations and people we visit,” he said.

Cottoning on to female travellers’ desire to seek transformational experiences, Insights Vacations recently launched its first women-only journey through India that kicks off in Delhi in March 2021. The 12-day guided journey, which is available on a limited departure date, revolves around female empowerment. Experiences are designed and run by local women, thus helping to provide them with a sustainable source of income. These include a visit to an Agra cafe solely run by victims of acid attacks, as well as a rickshaw ride through Jaipur, steered by a female rider. The proprietors were chosen for their work in promoting the economic independence and social integration of marginalised females in India.

Immersing In Activities
Other immersive activities, which offer travellers numerous opportunities to interact with local women, include celebrating the colourful festival of Holi in the home of an Indian family, as well as a Bollywood-inspired dance lesson. Guests will also visit the Seva Mandir Organisation, an NGO supporting natural resource development, and Sunda Rang, a project that employs female artisans who create traditional Rajasthani textiles and handicrafts. The itinerary, which features stops at historic landmarks such as the Unesco World Heritage site Humayun’s Tomb, is the first under Insights Vacations’ Wonder Women programme dedicated to female travellers.

“With 57 per cent of our guests being women along with the rise of women-only travel, our new journey which is designed and run by women, is a perfect fit for those who want to get below the surface and experience India as a culturally immersive destination as well as have opportunities to give back and empower women in the local communities while learning about their day-to-day lives,” said Ulla Hefel Böhler, global CEO for Insight Vacations.

The travel company is no stranger to travel with a sustainable slant, as a founding member of TreadRight Foundation, a non-profit initiative that supports sustainable tourism projects. These include helping to rehabilitate wildlife and connecting travellers with locals. As globetrotters continue to approach travel with a more socially and environmentally conscious mindset, other trends aimed at reducing its impacts – such as second-city travel (travel to under-the-radar cities) and motion-based travel (walk- and cycle-based trips) – are on the rise. “We are confident that more people will come together to improve the world, and travel can be a great way to empower local communities who live in the destinations we visit,” concludes Lim.
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STREET SMARTS:  Some female travellers share their tips for exploring the globe solo.
“When booking hotels, ask for rooms that are not located far from the staircase or elevators, in case you get cornered in a sticky situation. Also, avoid connecting rooms.” Shweta Parida, editor

Shweta Parida

 “Always be on the alert and keep valuables in a bag that is literally under your nose. You may also strap money belts onto your body, under your clothes.” Rachel Lee, editor

 “Wear a ring on your ring finger to avoid harassment from amorous males.  If you want to connect with fellow travellers, join a walking tour.” Amy Tham, educator

 “Morning runs are a great way to explore the neighbourhood you’re staying in but lose the earphones so that you can be more aware of your surroundings. If you’re a member of a global organisation, like Mikkeller Running Club, look up local chapters to hit up for a workout.” Desiree Koh, writer

“Beware of strangers approaching you to conduct surveys. These are often an attempt to pickpocket.” Winnie Fong, research engineer

“Always keep someone updated on your whereabouts. For instance, I share my itinerary with my sister, along with my GPS coordinates. When travelling to another town, I share the contact details of my next stop with my previous homestay hosts and let them know when I have arrived safely.” Zinkie Aw, photographer

“If you have a bad sense of direction, try to familiarise yourself with the area and routes via Google Maps and Google Street View before your trip. Don’t be engrossed with your phone, especially if you are returning to your accommodation late and are feeling tired or disoriented.” Meredith Wu, senior writer

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