Lauren Monitz wasn’t looking for an excuse to visit Hawaii, but one found her anyway. In 2014, her undergrad alma mater, the University of Colorado Boulder, played her grad school, DePaul University, in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. The catch: None of her friends could tag along to the basketball tournament. Monitz didn’t let that stop her. She spent six days watching hoops and island-hopping by herself. “I didn’t want to pass up an experience because of other [people’s schedules],” the 32-year-old says.
That sentiment is becoming increasingly common. Publications such as Forbes and Travelers Today listed solo adventuring as one of the top travel trends of 2017, and 17 percent of all female vacationers traveled alone in 2016, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Colorado resorts—which long have catered to women explorers with experiences like the three-decade-old Women’s Edge ski class at Aspen Snowmass—have added more female-centric adventures in recent years. And more flexible work schedules means growing numbers of female Coloradans are striking out-of-state on their own.
Of course, vacationing alone can come with several issues. The U.S. Department of State warns that women traveling by themselves are more likely to be affected by other countries’ cultural beliefs. Women aren’t even allowed to enter Saudi Arabia, for example, unless met at the airport by a husband, sponsor, or male relative. When Monitz visited Japan in 2012, the language barrier and local customs, such as a lack of eye contact, made her feel lonely. Recently, most of her solo travel has been to English-speaking countries; she stays at hostels in order to meet fellow adventurers. (Groups like Wanderful, a global network of female travelers, can provide advice and even a home-sharing network.)
Despite the drawbacks, the perks of solo travel—setting her own schedule, fostering independence, seeing the world—far outweigh Monitz’s fears. “You run all of those concerns through your head on long flights,” Monitz says. “But as soon as you land somewhere, it’s pretty natural.”