Pod Hotels: Safety for Solo Women Travelers
By Keiko Sutton CEO, Kotobuki Seating International | September 22, 2019
As a woman, when you tell someone you are traveling outside of the country, you are guaranteed to be met with a barrage of questions that generally start with "Who are you going with?" Once you have divulged that you will be going alone, responses are either praising you for being brave enough to take a solo trip or expressing immense concern for your safety. Although western culture is actively evolving to be more inclusive and respectful of women, and women are continuing to be empowered to venture out on our own to experience the world, a woman's safety is still a major area of concern.
Younger generations of women have begun to shift public opinion and the overarching societal view on who is able to travel alone-Hostelworld, an online hostel-booking platform, found in a 2018 study that accommodations booked by lone traveling women has increased by 45 percent between 2015 and 2017. There are a multitude of reasons why women choose to travel alone, whether it be to have time away from their families, to experience a brief escape from the daily pressures of life, or just to see the world without waiting on anyone else.
Sleep Capsule Bed in Hotel Glansit Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan
Overall, this solo travel is something more women are craving to do. As women continue to venture out into the world for solo travel experiences, safety precautions remain a concern that limits where we can comfortably go. Throughout Japan, this issue has been remedied by women-centric travel and experiential accommodations. For example, in public spaces such as train cars, bars, and sporting events, female patrons have the option to sit in a separate gender-specific area, which can ultimately make women feel much more comfortable. With the same concept of taking womens' comfort into consideration, sleep capsules have been utilized in Japanese hotels to exclusively serve women, or offer the option of gender-specific floors, allowing women, who may be travelling alone, to feel secure and separate in their own spaces.
Over the last two decades, the trend of traveling alone has become more popular as well as a relevant topic for discussion. More recently, women of all ages have begun to turn the concept more mainstream, showing that women want to venture out into the world independently while keeping themselves safe. In my own experiences as a woman traveling abroad alone, I generally had limited options when it came to finding accommodations that were safe and within a reasonable budget. When I was a college student studying abroad in the UK and traveling throughout Europe, I did not have the money to spend on expensive hotels and all of the attractions and activities.
While traveling, the subject of my focus (and spending) was primarily on the experiences that these new places had to offer. I wanted to eat the best foods, visit significant sites, and spend my money on things that allowed me to truly experience the local culture. The tradeoff for attainable accommodations was staying in hostels, which was ultimately the freshman college experience over and over again-sharing a bunk bed and bathroom in a co-living space that was generally co-ed. Although this option is much more affordable than the out-of-budget hotel room, they are often unsanitary and you have to worry about your safety, your luggage, and the fact that you are dorming with complete strangers.