Me in Sri Lanka, 2017, pulling my Sweetheart Carryon through an Arugam Bay grove
As many parts of the world re-open and we find our footing anew, there may be no better re-set than a little getaway for one. Even a daycation or single overnight might begin to provide perspective on what we've collectively endured. For me, this would be the ultimate act of self-care: a moment of freedom, adventure, and independence that replaces the cares of the world with renewed passion for it.
Even when busy with work and family, a life of travel need not be something we abandon, but something we adapt. If you can't take a week or month, go for a solo picnic and hike, bring a book to a country inn, take a museum and journaling lunch day, splurge on a daycation at an inspiring hotel. The change of environment and time alone will restore the imagination and fortify the soul. Try it with me!
SteamLine Founder, Sara Banks
The Proven Power of Solitude: Let Your Mind Wander
Seeking time alone may seem counterintuitive after a year in which we've missed so many loved ones, but might we miss ourselves the most? Whether surrounded by family at home or unrecognizable to ourselves owing to this upside-down world, part of pandemic recovery must be a reconnection with self.
Not only does science prove the benefits of alone time, as these Forbes and New York Times articles attest, but it's common sense that when we are with others, it is harder to quiet the mind in order to troubleshoot, dream, and plan in all the ways that are essential to living an intentional life. The senses are heightened when you are not constantly acting and reacting with other people, allowing for an increase of imagination that improves empathy, creativity, and calm.
So in between all the reunions you are planning near and far, might we urge you to take a solo flight, single seat, or table for one? Remember, adventure is foremostly a mindset—an approach to life that comes in all sizes and shapes. It is a worldview that life itself is exciting, even in the day-to-day. Travel writer extraordinaire, Katherine Parker-Magyar, comments beautifully:
Confucius said "Wherever you go, there you are," and while I agree that you can never fully run away from yourself on vacation, I do find that I always return from a trip slightly altered (for the better). And there's no better way to ensure the travel experience is meaningful than by being out there alone. I love traveling solo because it enables you to move around in the (new) world of your trip with less barriers—forcing you to talk to strangers, to look up at the sky, and pay more attention to everything that surrounds you. Plus—just as I believe that if you travel lighter, you'll feel more free (thank you, SteamLine Carryon), the same applies for people, too. Friends and family are the best, but sometimes even two's a crowd, and one is the real party.
Flying solo can call for a leap of faith. One need not be quite as fearless, however, as Katherine Parker-Magyar on this skywalk in Napier, New Zealand. See more @katherineparkermagyar.
Why Travel Alone: A Form of Inner Exploration
If time alone is powerful, then choosing to travel alone is doubly so. It is a great way to see the world while getting to know oneself, a deceptively cliché concept that is vital in practice. What might we learn from truly contemplating our likes and dislikes, our strengths and areas of opportunity, our intentions versus our actions? Nothing sets a better stage for self-examination than a change of environment and the journey in between.
For some, the idea of traveling on one’s own can be intimidating, while for others, it is a regular and sacred event. If you are curious but hesitant, be inspired that more and more women are venturing out on their own adventures, seeking self-discovery and new experiences. And not only will you discover said self when traveling alone, but you will be more inclined to meet new people and form deeper connections with the countries you are visiting.
So as you rush to book your family and friend vacations, making group decisions about where to meet, think about somewhere you'd like to go—and take yourself there. Whether to someplace nostalgic or new, the choice to travel alone says you are confident, curious, and free in ways that can build self-knowledge and respect at every phase of life.
This stylish traveler isn't afraid to pull up a seat at the Princess Bermuda bar with her SteamLine Botanist as plus one.
Solo Female Travel: A Growing Trend
In recent years, solo female travel has grown exponentially. In 2016, George Washington University noted that nearly two-thirds of travelers were women, making up an important demographic in the travel industry. Solo female travel bookings grew by nearly 50% between 2015 and 2017 according to Forbes. While the pandemic has thrown a wrench in this trend for 2020 and at least part of 2021, based on trends in 2019 and going into 2020, 59% of women who traveled alone in the past two years plan to do so again.
Historically, travel—especially on one’s own—was not encouraged for women. Of course, there are some accounts of female travelers, but the record is limited. It is inspiring to see that trend change now, with the growth of travel blogging, an industry that is largely dominated by women, as this Travel Break piece demonstrates, alongside an empowering beauty angle—"adventurous is the new pretty"—thanks to author Stephanie Be.
In more fun news, Condé Nast Traveler noted in 2019 that women travelers were “choosing mountaineering over pampering” and small-group adventure travel instead of the Eat, Pray, Love variety. But whether you’re looking to push yourself to the limit or decadently power off, you need not be held back when potential companions' interests or availability don't align with your own. Experience itself is wonderful company.
@lucylaucht contemplates the sea off Ischia, Italy with her Navy Anthropologist in tow.
The Travel-Life Balance
"Mommy, You're Grounded." That's what COVID has felt like to a number of mothers we spoke with who normally travel for work. While too-frequent travel could cause burnout and most parents are cherishing aspect of more family time, most formerly itinerant mothers are longing for the head-clearing time alone that has been nonexistent this past year. One customer who loves flying solo told us:
“As a Google UX manager and global startup mentor, I used to frequently travel alone for work to exciting places around the world. I have never tired of the thrill of travel and the alone time always made me appreciate my husband Sundar and little girl Zuvi even more when home. My head just seems to clear the moment a plane takes off, and I get some of my best ideas in flight. I also love hotel design and through my travels always want to make sure I sleep in a room that's inspiring. Over the past year, I’ve sated my wanderlust by exploring special airbnbs and small hotels in New York State, my favorite being Troutbeck in the Hudson Valley, Marram Montauk, and the Floating Farmhouse in the Catskills. I love exploring with my family but also can't wait to resume my solo adventures in a safely vaccinated world."
Between trips, Valli Ravindran makes the most of local adventures carrying her Red Entrepreneur Mini. Left and right, Valli's own photography of the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore and Madrid's Dear Hotel showcase her life by design. See more @vravindran.
Solo Travel Style: Live Up to Your Luggage
Travel has become more casual as it has gotten more common. In recent decades you would be more likely to see someone traveling in a sweat suit than a sharp one. While SteamLine was founded to reinstate the glamour of travel, after the past year it is our hope that travel feels more precious than ever, and that we dress for the occasion.
On the subject of solo travel and style, one of our favorite SteamLine vignettes is that of world-renowned film designer (and our sticker collaborator!) Annie Atkins, who so charmingly recounted:
"I was on my way to present my work at a symposium in Scotland the first time I travelled with SteamLine. It was one of my first trips in ages without my family so I was looking forward to a bit of me-time on the aeroplane and in the hotel. I remember dressing that morning the way I always do (everyone who works in film wears hiking boots and a North Face fleece, it’s our uniform) and then I picked up my very smart new suitcase and just thought no, I can’t go like this. I changed in to a pair of leather ankle boots and my smart woolen overcoat instead and honestly it felt like I was travelling in style for the first time in my life. People kept looking at my suitcase as I wheeled it along behind me, I must have looked like I had walked straight off a 1930s cruise liner."
- Annie Atkins
Anita Patrickson prepares to take off with her Cream Diplomat Carryon.
Safe Solo Female Travel
It is a painful truth that no matter how much the world evolves, women especially are likely to face safety concerns when traveling alone. We recently wrote about safe solo female travel in our founder's interview with Kirsten Alana and are dedicated to helping keep you informed of any related resources we find. Kirsten found the resources shared by Joyful Heart Foundation to be helpful as well as these posts from Be My Travel Muse and Solo Traveler. To this we would like to add a very thoughtful piece published by the New York Times before the pandemic, as well as Travel.State.Gov as a basic resource to always review for up-to-date information before traveling alone. Should anyone reading this have any additional advice or resources you would like to share, please email our founder at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I tend to be a better student of experience when I am alone, without the distraction of friends, family, or other travelers. But I also feel a benefit from traveling in a group...I’m very much a realist that it’s not always safe—and not all places are 100% safe for female, solo travelers—and yet, those things haven’t stopped me from wanting to travel alone. Nor would I ever tell another woman she can’t or shouldn’t travel solo. I will still do it. I just try to be smart with regard to where I go and how I go, when I’m alone."
Photographer Kirsten Alana, alone with her lens in Greece.
You're Never Really Alone with SteamLine
You might travel alone, but you'll never be lonely. Your SteamLine suitcase will be an unstoppable conversation and compliment magnet. We are proud that our cases help break down the fourth wall between you, your fellow passengers, and the people of your host country. We call this phenomenon The SteamLine Effect, which makes our luggage companions in adventure that enhance your experience of the world and yourself. Who knows where your suitcase might take you.
Solo in Spain with the Navy Architect.
- Consider these safe sites recently touted by Travel + Leisure magazine.
- Be inspired by the works of art that are our Annie Atkins luggage stickers and the trailblazing women who informed them.
- Explore Travel Inspiration or Find Your Next Destination with Our Places to Go Pinterest Board!
- 10 Smart Solo Travel Tips for Women by Female Solo Travelers
- Solo Female Travel Tips: Advice from Women Who Know
- Female Travelers and Explorers Who Made History
- Alone & Female: Solo Women Travellers Tell Their Most Inspiring Stories