Each year, an increasing number of women decide to traverse their boundaries and embark on a solo adventure. This movement is so common that the keyword search for “solo female travel” increased by upwards of 1000% between the years 2014 and 2020. Despite the majority of the world taking a so-called travel hiatus during the pandemic, the solo female travel movement is once again gaining traction and with it comes the long-winded, and much-needed, discussion about women’s safety.
I was inspired to write this blog post to share some incredible female-led enterprises helping solo female travellers to travel safely. However, before I share them I wanted to take a moment to discuss why enterprises like these are so important as we move into a new era of travel and tourism.
Re-embarking on my own solo female traveller journey had me revisit my own anxieties and concerns about travelling alone as a woman. It was a time when the tragic cases of Shanae Edwards and Gabby Petito flooded my newsfeed, as well as mention of the thousands of other brave, adventurous women subjected to violence either at home or abroad this year alone. The Facebook groups I frequent for solo female travel shared cases of stalking and harassment, giving caution to others to ensure we keep safety at the forefront of our minds. “Always be aware of your surroundings,” one woman advised. “Maybe consider some sort of self-defence class,” said another. “Always check the child locks on your Uber.” “Carry pepper spray.” “Scream and run if you can,” the list goes on. This is not only one post, but rather a collection of posts for women about how they have to hold the weight of concern, how they have to travel differently. Yes, it is 2021, but these are the challenges we women face daily and so to know female entrepreneurs are out there, creating ideas and initiatives to make travel safer for women is truly inspiring.
Here are some of the female-led enterprises helping solo female travellers to travel safely –
Greether is a community where solo female travellers and local greeters can meet, support, have fun, and explore the world safely together.
Hear from founder, Vanessa Karel –
“As an experienced solo traveller, I always encountered myself choosing destinations that seemed to be safer. Before heading out on solo trips I would always receive questions and concerns from the people in my life, questioning if I was crazy. They would ask why I wasn’t scared. But the truth is, yes, sometimes I was scared. Unfortunately, It would be a lie if I told them I hadn’t been chased in the streets I’ve walked on while I ventured into unknown cities, or that I hadn’t called one of my friends across the world as I hopped on a taxi just to feel accompanied. The truth is that a woman walking by herself is a target and vulnerable whether travelling or not.
My vision for female empowerment through travel, research, and passion led me to create Greether – a travel and safety app for female travellers around the world. The name is a play of the two words; “greet” and “her” which represent the identity of the platform services – to find local women “greeters” that can greet travellers upon arrival, help them navigate in a safer way, and give them a tailored experience from the hands of a local expert.”
Adventurely is a meetup app that helps digital nomads, solo travellers, & local adventure seekers find, share and book local experiences together.
Hear from founder, Mita Carriman –
“When I started travelling solo and went looking to meet other travellers while on the road, the tech options seemed to mainly be you either comb through Facebook or get on a dating app. Both of those options weren’t designed for my needs and as a woman travelling by myself, it’s especially not the safest option for dating apps to be the default solution.
I became obsessed with the problem and decided to do something about it with Adventurely – we’re an app that connects nomads, travellers & local adventure seekers for shared local experiences in popular travel destinations. There’s a giant market of underserved solo leisure travellers and an even bigger emerging market of digital nomad travellers who also travel solo. We have a simple mission to make connections for them on the road safer, easier, and more fun.”
Related reading: A Maldives 2-week itinerary for solo female travellers
HerHouse is an app that makes it easy for solo women travellers to connect with background-checked hosts so they have safe places to stay and save money while travelling.
Hear from founder, Tess Millhollon –
“HerHouse was inspired by my own solo travels and how wonderful it was when I had local connections while abroad. Having local connections can not only help solo women travellers save money but it gives them safe females to reach out to if anything should happen while travelling. I am determined to make travel easier, safer, and cheaper for women all over the world.”
Cummari is a stylish coliving and coworking space for female travellers. It is a place for solo travellers, artists and digital nomads to connect, explore and find inspiration.
Hear from co-founder, Michelle Titus –
“For me – Cummari was created to meet the needs of nomadic women that I felt were often too difficult to find myself as a digital nomad. We renovated a historic home in the centre of a busy Sicilian city (small city, but busy) to be a space of safety, comfort, community and convenience – with all the little details thought of for what a woman travelling and working, whether it be for a year or a month, might need while at Cummari.
It has been wonderful to see how this concept has taken on a life of its own with guests forming true friendships, helping each other in difficult times (as they do not end when we travel) and even returning already for future stays.”
Purposeful Nomad offers unique, immersive small group tours that empower women travellers as well as the communities in their destinations.
Hear from founder, Caitin Murray Baez –
“It was actually my experiences travelling as a solo female that drove me to start Purposeful Nomad. I was driven to not only launch a travel company where tourism could create a positive impact but I also wanted Purposeful Nomad to be a platform that supported and encouraged more women to travel solo and with each other.
Since its inception, connecting women worldwide has been a powerful mission behind many of our trips. We primarily run all-female tours that invest in many female-led initiatives in the destinations we visit. In Guatemala, we visit Mayan communities where women are the leaders in sustaining their ancient weaving techniques. In the Dominican Republic, we learn how a local non-profit is empowering young Dominican and Haitian girls through education and confidence-building activities. In India, we march alongside incredibly resilient women in the International Women’s Day march.
The idea that great things happen when women are given opportunities to grow, evolve and improve is something I wholeheartedly agree with. I’ve seen it first-hand on so many occasions. I hope the efforts of Purposeful Nomad continue to inspire women to travel and support one another.”
Girls Empowered By Travel (GET)
Girls Empowered By Travel (GET) is a non-profit organisation that provides safe opportunities for women to travel and get involved in community work with like-minded youth in a welcoming and safe environment.
Hear from co-founder, Sajana Bhadel –
“Traveling in Nepal is mostly for wealthy men and we girls always need to struggle to come out and explore because of deeply rooted patriarchal beliefs. I belong to a small village, Changunarayan (listed in the World Heritage site) and so many foreigners used to visit my village. I observed that many female solo travellers getting to know the community, helping the earthquake victims to build the shelter in my village. I started asking questions like if these solo travellers dare to travel and explore the communities and can make strangers the friends then why not we Nepalese girls explore our own communities and explore other communities, share experiences, skills and exchange cultures. This is how Girls Empowered by Travel Nepal was born – a non-profit organisation that empowers the girls to travel, explore, learn and grow together. We organise different programs like service-learning where national and international travellers can explore, interact with locals, hosted by community homestay, tours and treks led by locals, learn the cultures, traditions and support/serve the communities by the experts and knowledge that they have. This is how GET-Nepal creates a win-win situation by supporting travellers and locals. We promote safe travel and great learnings with lifetime experiences”