By Jennifer Stevens

In just the last year, searches for the term “solo travel” have increased by 100% according to Google Trends. Airline booking aggregator Kayak reports a 36% increase in solo-traveler flights. Group tour company Intrepid Travel says its latest data shows 73% of their solo travelers are female.

Heather Gibson, PhD, Professor of Tourism at the University of Florida, says the growth can also be seen not only in the proliferation of Facebook groups for solo female travel, but the introduction of hotel “solo packages” and women-only group offerings by a variety of tour outfitters. (That’s in addition to long-standing women-only tour companies.)

According to Intrepid Travel’s PR Manager for North America, Hannah Choat, solo travelers are not only predominantly female, but they’re also older. In recent years, she says, fewer 20-and- 30-something solo travelers have joined their trips, and have been replaced with mostly solo female travelers in their 40s, 50s and 60s.

This is no surprise to Gibson, who said that midlife events like divorce, retirement, widowhood and children leaving home have always been major drivers to get out and travel. It’s just that the pandemic has accelerated this desire to travel. “[Older people] were aware that their time was limited,” she says. “Now we’re seeing a ‘catching up’ taking place.”


Travel Trends for Solo Travelers

The types of travel and destinations solo female travelers prefer varies, depending on their travel history. If a woman has done a lot of U.S. travel with their family for example, and hasn’t had the opportunity to go overseas, she’s more likely to do it in midlife. For some women who were avid backpackers in their youth, they may prefer to stay closer to home—opting for a road trip or joining a US-based women’s tour group.

Social connection is also a factor for how a woman will travel solo. By planning trips around a passion or hobby, we naturally meet people with common interests. Gibson says that she’s seeing more interest in athletic tourism, even among older populations. Hiking trails, multi-day bike tours (like through Bike Florida), paddle trips (Paddle Florida), and running races or even triathlons are becoming more popular. “Lots of solo women are doing this but in different ways,” Gibson says—both hardcore and soft adventure.

Whatever solo travelers are drawn to, the beauty is that generally they have more flexibility. Carolyn Ray CEO and Editor of JourneyWoman, says that for women over 50, the two-week vacation is actually a rarity. Most older women tend to plan multi-week trips and also spend more money in a single destination compared to younger travelers—averaging between $3,000-5,000 per week. 

Florida Destinations for Solo Travelers

For older women who want to solo travel within the United States (something that Ray recommends for first-time solo travelers), Florida is one of the best options. As Gibson says, “It’s the diversity of what Florida has to offer… there are so many choices that fulfill what the solo traveler would be attracted to.”

Whether you’re looking for a beach getaway, a cultural experience, or to just live like a local for a few weeks, Florida has some great options:

For Laid-Back Fun: Key West

This is Ray’s top Floridian recommendation for solo women travelers, and somewhere she visits each year. “To me, that’s my happy place,” she says, “where anybody can belong.”

Key West is the southernmost point in the United States—the end of a beautiful chain of islands known as the Florida Keys. This island city is known for its laid-back vibe, lively social scene, inclusivity, key lime pie, Ernest Hemingway’s home, and the place that inspired many of the late Jimmy Buffett’s songs.

Ray personally loves to visit at the end of October so she can attend Fantasy Fest: a 10-day “party in paradise for grownups.” But if you’re looking for a quieter time of year, consider sometime between March and late May, when there are fewer tourists and mild weather.

Where to Stay: Ray’s top pick for Key West is Simonton Court: a safe, gated property with options to rent a cottage or a room in the historic inn.


For the History Buff: St. Augustine

Located on Florida’s northeast coast, St. Augustine is often referred to as the “Nation’s Oldest City. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, the historical town is known for its Spanish architecture and historic landmarks, like the oldest masonry fort in the U.S.

St. Augustine’s downtown is safe, small and walkable, and history lovers will enjoy wandering through the city’s narrow lanes and visiting the many historic landmarks and museums. The impressive Castillo de San Marcos monument and the nation’s Oldest Wooden School House are not to be missed.

Other fun things to do in St. Augustine include the famous ghost tours, visiting the city’s renowned distillery, and enjoying the pristine beaches at Anastasia State Park.

Where to Stay: Book a room at one of St. Augustine’s charming bed & breakfasts like the St. Francis Inn or the Augustin Inn.

For the Nature Adventurer: Cedar Key

A small island community on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Cedar Key is Old Florida at its finest. The charming fishing village is a place full of artists and nature lovers; and every April, the town hosts its “Old Florida Celebration of the Arts.”

Solo female travelers will feel safe and welcomed in the small community of less than 1,000 residents, and can enjoy exploring the town by foot or bike. Outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge and the Cedar Key Museum State Park’s nature trails. Kayaking and boating tours are popular activities, as is bird watching.

The most popular times to visit are in April for the arts festival or in October for the town’s seafood festival.

Where to Stay: For a B&B, try the Cedar Key Bed and Breakfast. Additionally, you’ll find some nice apartment options on sites like and Airbnb.

 -Cielito Vivas

For the Festival-Lover: Mount Dora

Located just 40 minutes northeast of Orlando, the small, historic lakefront town of Mount Dora is a haven for antique-lovers and festival-goers. It’s the perfect place from which to explore Orlando’s theme parks or to enjoy an extended stay in the town’s charming downtown.

Mount Dora calls itself “The Festival City,” because it hosts more than 30 festivals per year—the most famous being the Mount Dora Fall Craft Fair in October and the Mount Dora Arts Festival in February. As many of the festivals are back-to-back, staying for a few weeks to a month would allow solo travelers the ability to meet lots of like-minded people and enjoy a variety of entertainment.

Since Mount Dora is so close to Orlando, travelers have the option to drive to the city’s many theme parks as well.

Where to Stay: Mount Dora has some beautiful B&Bs. Some of the most well-reviewed are Grandview, Adora Inn, and Magnolia Inn Bed & Breakfast.

For Arts & Culture: Sarasota

From its vibrant arts scene to the nearby powdery white sand beaches, Sarasota offers solo female travelers the perfect combination of city and nature.

Culture and art enthusiasts can tour the famous Ringling Museum of Art, catch a show at the Sarasota Opera House, and visit the city’s numerous galleries and theaters. Additionally, St. Petersburg and its impressive Salvador Dali museum is less than an hour away.

Sarasota is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States, with Siesta Key consistently making Tripadvisor’s list for top U.S. beaches. Within a short driving distance, travelers can also reach the uncrowded shores of Longboat Key Beach and the laid-back and exceptionally scenic Anna Maria Island.

Where to Stay: We recommend staying in an Airbnb or VRBO apartment downtown if you want to be within walking distance to attractions and restaurants. There are many great, safe options to choose from.

To Feel like a Local: Dunedin

Situated just 30 minutes west of Tampa, the small coastal town of Dunedin is home to a pedestrian-friendly downtown lined with restaurants, shops, and galleries. Stay here for a week or two and you’ll feel like a local.

Dunedin has a charming and laid-back atmosphere, with a variety of community events and festivals throughout the year. From weekend produce markets to “Second Friday” celebrations with live music and street performers, there are many ways for solo travelers to connect with the community. Dunedin is also known for its independent restaurants and craft breweries, often providing entertainment and live music: perfect for the female traveler dining solo.

Outside of Dunedin’s cute downtown area, visitors can go birdwatching at Honeymoon Island State Park, go on a nature walk at Caladesi Island State Park, or bike the Pinellas Trail—which stretches from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg (both great places to visit for solo female travelers).

Where to Stay: Sunny Side Cottages in downtown Dunedin consistently rates highly among solo travelers, particularly for the convenient location.

For Outdoor Leisure: Vero Beach

This beach town on Florida’s Atlantic Coast is becoming increasingly popular for retirees, known for its golf courses and fishing opportunities. That’s why Vero Beach is a great destination for older solo travelers seeking both relaxation and recreation.

The beach is the main attraction, with 26 miles of uncrowded shoreline. Solo travelers who want to try their hand at fishing can join one of the many fishing charters where experts will help you catch tarpon, snook, and redfish. And for long scenic walks, Mckee Botanical Garden offers a beautiful 18-acre tropical jungle landscape.

For more leisure activities, travelers can spend the day shopping on Vero Beach Main Street, with more than 20 locally owned boutiques; enjoy the wide variety of restaurants; and watch live performances at the theater, ballet, and opera.

Where to Stay: We recommend staying on the beach, and Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa is a great choice. (Its White Orchard Spa is highly rated as well.)


For Seaside Charm: The Beaches Along 30A

In Florida’s Panhandle, there’s a 24-mile county road named 30A, and all along it you’ll find the most spectacular beach towns. Full of friendly locals and unique shops, each small beach community has its own charms.

This area is known for its fine white sand and emerald waters, so the beaches are definitely a draw. A fun way to explore the area’s 12 beach towns and three state parks is to rent a bike and ride along the Timpoochee Trail, which runs parallel to 30A.

Solo female travelers can’t really go wrong with where to stay along 30A, with many cottage and condo rentals to choose from. For an upscale, walkable community with restaurants and a farmer’s market, Rosemary Beach is a popular option. And for those who want a more central location for easy exploration, try Seagrove Beach.

Where to Stay: Paradise Properties has some beautiful rentals and specializes in solo travel. If you want to stay in the upscale Rosemary Beach community, check out these vacation rentals.

Tips and Advice for the Solo Female Traveler

Traveling alone can be both exciting and scary—especially if it’s your first time. But with a little preparation and guidance, solo travel can be an empowering, rewarding experience. Below are some things to think about before booking your trip.


Any solo woman traveler will tell you that safety is their biggest concern when planning a trip. And, according to Gibson, “The reality is that we do need to be more careful… but we shouldn’t be so scared that it keeps us home.” Her advice is to develop a sense of confidence that you own the space and know what you’re doing. Start by developing a savvy traveler sense. This can mean researching a place before going so that you know what to expect, booking accommodation that has 24/7 security or somewhere that knows your comings and goings (like a B&B). Another option is renting a house or apartment with a kitchen so you can make your own dinner if going out at night is a concern.

Ray adds that it’s important not to post about traveling alone on social media. Her other tips are to reject a room on the first floor and to ask for two room keys if you feel nervous about people knowing you’re staying alone. “Just trust your intuition,” she says. “If you feel uncomfortable, acknowledge that and do what’s right for you. You don’t have to be brave; do things at your own speed and your own way.”

Combating Loneliness

Another common concern among solo female travelers is feeling lonely during the trip—although Gibson says that her research suggests this was a bigger talking point before technology and social media. In the 1990s, the women she interviewed would recommend that other solo female travelers bring a book to dinner; they would comment on how disappointed they felt when they couldn’t share a special moment with a loved one. But now, our phones allow us to share pictures of great meals or perfect sunsets, which makes a big difference.

“If you think about it, you’re never really by yourself,” adds Gibson. Traveling solo allows us to connect more with strangers if we’re open to it. When traveling solo, we’re more likely to reach out to others and people are more likely to reach out to us, whereas when we’re traveling with others, we tend to stay in a bubble.

Try to interact with locals by attending festivals and supporting local businesses. Dine at smaller restaurants that offer live entertainment. And if you feel like it, join group excursions. Embrace the beauty of being alone and all that it offers in the way of getting to know a place and its people.

Start Small

For your first time traveling solo, start with a trip close to home. “There are a lot of women who become intimidated by the idea that they have to do some sort of international trip as their first trip,” says Ray. But this can be extremely intimidating. Doing a shorter, domestic trip to see how solo traveling feels can build confidence and understanding of logistics.

After doing a staycation or a U.S.-based trip, then maybe plan a solo trip to an English-speaking country like the UK or Ireland. This will not only enable you to connect with locals, but not being able to ask questions or understand signage can cause a lot of anxiety in first-time international travelers.

Be Patient with Yourself

If you haven’t traveled solo before or if it’s been a long time, it’s normal to feel nervous. Allow yourself to feel this way and give yourself a few days to adapt to solo traveling.

“Learning has got a sharp curve to it,” Gibson says. When you’re traveling by yourself, you’re learning so much—about your new surroundings and about yourself. But what comes out of this is empowerment: which is really why older women are traveling solo in the first place.

Places to Remember