Mrs. Independent: Trends Show Married Women are Leaving Husbands at Home to Travel
By Road Scholar
Image Courtesy of Road Scholar
Just because you may be joined together in holy matrimony doesn’t mean you must be joined together at the hip. The nearly 12,000 married women who travel solo with Road Scholar each year are living proof that maintaining your own individual identities can lead to long and healthy marriages.
In a recent study Road Scholar, the nonprofit world leader in educational travel for older adults, found that at least 60% of their solo female travelers in 2022 were married women traveling without their spouses. The number one reason the women gave for why they travel without their partners? Their spouse simply isn’t interested in traveling.
“As my husband ticks off his bucket list of sports car shows (boring!), I enjoy a trip, and neither of us is envious of the other or feeling abandoned,” said one married solo traveler from Berea, Ohio.
Of the 80-100,000 travelers that go with Road Scholar each year, 70% are women. Compare that to the overall population breakdown in the U.S.— 54% of Americans 50 and older are women— and this suggests that women are generally more interested in traveling in their later years than men. What’s encouraging to see is that those senior women who are married are not letting their disinterested husbands hold them back from exploring the world independently, or going solo with group travel organizations like Road Scholar.
“It would be an atrocity to not travel just because my spouse doesn’t like it,” says Road Scholar solo traveler Marcia Henderson, 66. “This is my passion, and he is supportive as I support his golfing.”
Road Scholar has been seeing a steady increase in the number of solo travelers enrolling in programs with them over the past ten years, and most are women— about 85%. Single women certainly contribute to this trend. Half of women over 65 in the U.S. are unpartnered: there are far more widowed women than widowed men, and the divorce rate is highest among older Americans and on the rise. But the idea that so many solo female travelers are married tells a fascinating story about where we are in history.
“I think this trend is really a mark of the population that we’re serving currently,” says Road Scholar representative Kelsey Knoedler Perri. “Two-thirds of our participants now are Boomers, and Boomer women are so much more independent than their mothers and grandmothers. It would have been far more unheard of for previous generations of women to be traveling the world without their spouses. Society has shifted to ‘allow’ older women the freedom to do it now.”
As a response to this increasing demand for solo travel, Road Scholar is developing a collection of programs just for solo travelers, which they plan to debut in 2024, with departures starting in 2025.