More than ever before, women today are on the move, and the tourist industry is waking up to the fact that there are a lot of women who want to see the world on their own terms.
The rewards of travel are many and varied -- including a sense of self-discovery, independence and freedom.
Having said that, of course, there's always safety in numbers! And women are busy banding together online and in neighborhood communities and making plans for far-flung travels as a forceful and independent group.
Women's travel groups & publications
A trailblazer in travel exclusively for women, Journeywoman is an online magazine with engaging story articles on women's solo travel,
in groups or with family, and features travel guides and backpacking
tips, advice on traveling with kids and more.
Not a 20-something anymore, but feeling even more invigorated and adventurous? AdventureWomen offers hiking, sea kayaking, rafting, dog sledding, skiing and more
in the U.S., Canada, Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America,
Vietnam, Nepal, Hawaii, and Iceland (for women over 30, please!)
And, in the UK, more adventure awaits at Walking Women offering a full menu of backpacking, hiking, climbing and multi-activity travel tours for women, browseable
by level of fitness, by activity or season.
Women traveling solo
According to industry polls, women who travel solo fall into two distinct groups. For young adults and college students, travel is the greatest education.
For more mature women, after spending years rearing a family, the decision to go off by themselves to see the world is often a welcome one.
For Cecilia Knopfler, a dedicated world traveler, traveling solo is all about keeping your head.
Besides sticking to major tourist areas and avoiding the late bar crowds, "trust your instincts", she says. Back away from any situation that you feel is threatening, "but don't be afraid to try new things ... and always keep your sense of humor."
Nowadays, keeping a smartphone nearby with GPS and Internet access will help you from getting lost, to allow you to text friends in case you get homesick, or to place an emergency call if the need arises.
As a woman traveling alone, of course, you may also become a target for local lotharios. If you want to experience the local pub or disco scene, but are not in the mood for romance, Cecilia has a solution for that, too: "I used to carry a picture of my imaginary husband with me, or else I wore a costume jewelry ring as a wedding band. That usually slowed them in their tracks, or at least changed the subject," she laughs.
Younger women, and especially same-sex couples, should also be aware of the disapproving stares (or outright danger) in countries where religion and centuries-old traditions dictate how a woman should 'behave' in public.
Of course, knowing the limitations or risks imposed doesn't mean you can't continue having fun while expanding your horizons!
Whether you find yourself in Nairobi, Hong Kong, or Timbuktu, common sense and keeping aware of your surroundings usually wins the day.
More about special interest travel for women around the Web: