As a woman, the idea of visiting foreign lands or even domestic destinations on our own can be an intimidating one. But journeying solo doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be alone. Many solo female travelers choose to go with Road Scholar because they feel like they’re part of a tight-knit group on our educational travel programs. They offer unique opportunities for people to engage both intellectually and socially while exploring and learning new things, all in a comfortable, safe environment.
I, myself, a self-proclaimed adventure addict, have been on many Road Scholar programs as a solo participant, including a recent culinary program in the Pacific Northwest. Learning and travel are such high priorities in my life that I often do not think about waiting until a friend or relative suggests a destination. I just go!
But for some it’s not so easy or simple. My good friend, Eileen, is recently widowed. One of her favorite activities with her late husband, Tim, was traveling the globe together. Last week, she had me over and we talked about her getting back into it. ”I feel ready to travel again, but I’m nervous about going alone or with a group of people I don’t know,” she confided in me. I told her that many of our female participants start out with the same fears, but then come back from a program gushing about how rewarding and inclusive the experience was, and that their fellow participants and group leaders fostered a real sense of community and friendship within the group. Eileen found this very reassuring!
Eileen during a trip to France, one of her favorite countries
My feeling is that when someone is traveling solo, they’re a little more open to new experiences and making new friends. I am constantly hearing great stories about the lasting friendships that have been made on our programs. I told Eileen all about the Sicilian-American woman I met who grew up in California, married and pursued a career in El Salvador, and retired to Florida before she decided to look up her father’s natal village in Sicily on our Road Scholar visit there in the Spring of 2008.
Women today are venturing outside of their comfort zone, seeking challenging and rewarding experiences as opportunities for learning and growth. Marilyn Harper, a recent first-time solo participant on a Russian Heritage program in Russia, told me about her trip. “I started out alone, but over the course of the program, we really became a family. We looked out for one another.” Marilyn also emphasized how the group made a special effort to introduce themselves and learn about each other. “Every night, we would rotate and sit with different people so you get to know everyone.”
Marilyn Harper in Moscow, April 2013
The prospect of new friendships is an added bonus for many. As a not-for-profit organization with a mission to enrich the lives of adults, we’ve always included an option for roommate matching because it offers many people the opportunity to develop close friendships that continue long after the journey. Having a roommate makes socializing with the larger group easier in many respects. And it is rewarding to have someone to review events with at the end of a fun and mentally stimulating day!
If you’re interested in learning more about the solo female travel experience with us, visit our FAQ page: http://www.roadscholar.org/about/questions_single.asp
And remember: When you travel with Road Scholar, even if you arrive by yourself, you won’t be alone!
Vice President, Programs