"Solo-backpacking" has gained its momentum and popularity among (urban) Thai women nowadays. A gendered nature of this solo-travel has attracted a sizable number of young middle-class Thai women. These young urban women are traditionally shaped and restricted by strict Thai social norms. This study provides an investigation of the current movement/phenomenon of solo female backpackers in Thai society. The research reveals that Thai women who choose to travel independently face very real constraints and challenges in regard to their gender, ethnic and class backgrounds. The solo female backpackers are initially faced with pre-travel constraints and challenges rooted in their socio-cultural backgrounds. Then, as they cross borders, they often find themselves under new constraints and challenges stemmed from the socio-cultural contexts of their destinations. Despite series of obstacles, the result of the study shows that these solo female backpackers choose to go ahead with their travel plans and find ways and means to negotiate their constraints, challenges and limitations. They employ several tactics of gender negotiations in order to continue their journey. The women interviewed for the study find this form of leisure help build their sense of ‘independent’ and ‘autonomous’ self which results in their ‘new’ found identities and independency and leadership.
Phrueksa Boondamnoen, Thammasat University, Thailand