Why Older Women Are Increasingly Choosing to Travel Solo

Solo travel is on the rise, and women are in the driver's seat.

two people looking through binoculars on a boat during a Road Scholar tour to Costa Rica
Road Scholar trips include all experiences and expert guides (Photo: Road Scholar)

The popular tour company Road Scholar, which has been recognized as one of the best companies for senior tours, recently released a report based on the responses of 600 senior women solo travelers. Why? Because women traveling on their own—especially as part of a tour group—is on the rise. According to the report, up to 30 percent of the company’s tour participants are solo travelers; and of those solo travelers, 85 percent are women. 

While women tend to outlive male partners by six years, the story of why solo travel among women is on the rise is a lot more complicated (and interesting) than the life expectancy gap. Of the 600 solo women travelers surveyed, 60 percent of Road Scholar’s solo travelers in 2022 were married, and only 6 percent said they traveled solo because they didn’t have anyone else in their life to travel with. 

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So, why are more and more partnered senior women traveling solo? Many said their spouse wasn’t interested in traveling, or didn’t want to go to the same destinations. Some said their partners weren’t physically able to travel. “Don’t let a silly thing like marriage get in the way of your passion to learn about the world,” said tour participant Barbara W. 

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For some, solo travel is either a necessity or a preference, but many of the women surveyed went deeper to explain the reasons they actually love solo travel: Twenty six percent said they traveled solo because it was easier to make new friends when traveling alone.

Independence was a big factor, too:

  • 22 percent said they enjoy the autonomy
  • 15 percent said they liked being able to choose their destination
  • 6 percent said they appreciated not needing to coordinate with someone else’s schedule

Since guided tours provide structure, access, and a built-in community, it makes sense that as we continue to see a rise in senior women traveling solo, multi-day guided tours would be a great fit. 

TourScoop Takeaway

As someone who travels both as a solo traveler and is also always on the lookout for family vacation ideas with my kids and spouse, I find this rise in solo travel, especially among women, thrilling. I think of the elder women in my life and want this for them, the chance to continue their adventures and to choose the places they want to go.

While not true for every woman, there’s a tendency for women to do a lot of accommodating in their younger years—making sure partners and children and work all take priority. Solo travel for senior women feels like a wonderful counterbalance, a way of reclaiming one’s own interests, autonomy, and sense of adventure. 

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Christine Sarkis is the co-founder of Vacationist Media and editor-in-chief of TourScoop and FamilyVacationist.com. She is the former executive editor of SmarterTravel.com, a travel publication owned by Tripadvisor. Her work has been published in dozens of publications including Conde Nast Traveler and USAToday, and she has been quoted in print and online publications including The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and People magazine. She has also offered tips for travelers on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now.