The popularity of taking a solo holiday has surged over recent years, and it isn’t just among people looking to ‘find’ themselves by trekking across exotic and remote locations as once you may remember, solo travel used to be regularly associated. Travelling solo has become popular with all age groups, but particularly amongst 35 to 44-year-olds. In 2018, the number of solo travellers in this age group alone soared, having more than trebled from 5% to 16%. Among all travellers, 15% chose to head off alone in 2017 – an increase of 3% from the year before and three times more than the number of people who opted to travel solo back in 2011.
Why are more of us dropping holiday companions to take up solo travel?
We do not want to compromise
We’re increasingly comfortable with choosing no compromise. ABTA’s Holiday Habits report revealed in most cases, solo travellers have no intention of compromising on where to visit and what to do while on vacation. Holiday and free time have become ever more precious. Our tastes and preferences vary on what we want from a holiday while not forgetting the expense of one. Over three-quarters of solo holidaymakers wish to do precisely what they want while on vacation. It’s most prevalent in the 35 to 44 age group, where 92% say this is their primary reason for holidaying alone.
It’s a small world
The world is smaller thanks to wi-fi, the internet and GPS. Of course, wanting a taste of independence isn’t the only reason for the increase in popularity of solo travel. Gone are the days when travelling solo really meant you were on your own. Those days when you were at mercy to the kindness of strangers for food, shelter and directions if you ever found yourself lost abroad. When telecommunications predating the internet, meant the cost and convenience of keeping in touch with family and friends at home were mostly prohibitive and when finding a public phone in remote or off the beaten track locations was near impossible.
Ease of communications
Thanks to ubiquitous Wi-Fi paired with travel apps and smartphone technology, the world is now a much smaller place and navigating the globe has become immeasurably less daunting. Not only is travel a lot easier because of internet access, but it’s also so much easier for solo travellers to stay in touch with loved ones.
Through apps loved ones can keep track of a family member or friend’s location as they move from one destination to another. At the same time, the solo traveller can share holiday experiences through social media platforms. Arguably, travelling solo is safer now than it has ever been before. With smartphone maps, it’s harder to get lost – at least, as far as well-trodden and popular tourist destinations go.
More and better solo holidays to choose from
The world of solo holiday options is genuinely opening up. Nowadays, anyone travelling alone has a world of options to choose from. You can build your own DIY holiday, take a cruise, join a group tour, dive into adventure holidays or pursue a new activity. Travel companies expand their holiday portfolios and diversify their offering to solo travellers. There is nowhere on the planet solo travellers cannot venture to, although interestingly, they often choose different destinations from folk travelling with friends or with family members.
Asia holds particular appeal to solo travellers – with over a fifth making this continent their first choice destination when compared to only 15% of other kinds of holidaymakers who do the same. Neither are Antarctica and The Arctic out of bounds, with 2% of solo travellers visiting both extreme locations over the last year.
A desire for more ‘me time’
Meeting new people? It’s not what a solo traveller wants. In the past, solo travellers were often keen to meet new people and make new friendships while on holiday. Think back to the heyday of Club 18-30 for singles – the definitive solo holiday of the eighties, when romance was not only high in spirit but also high on the holiday agenda.
Surprisingly, meeting new people is not the top priority it once was in previous decades. Only 31% of solo adventurers are keen to forge friendships – a surprising figure which has dropped 10% in one year. We can’t help but think there’s a connection between this drop and the desire for more ‘me’ time as well as the ease of communications we have these days.
The energy and effort required to build new friendships while travelling alone can impact both because meeting new people may compromise our desire and need for ‘me’ time. We also don’t want to compromise our holiday wishes by considering the wishes of others. It’s also so easy to keep in touch with friends and family. You can understand why some do not feel the need to invest their holiday energy and precious time into meeting new people. We think solo travellers are carefully choosing times during a holiday when they want more sociable moments.
Who is travelling alone?
As we mentioned, many of us taking solo holidays are aged between 35-44; however, there is a significant number of active, silver surfers aged 50 and over who have opted to take some ‘me’ time on vacation. Would you believe, 20% of those aged over 75 have chosen to make a trip alone in the last year? As the needs and wants of different travellers are slowly being better catered for, specialist travel companies are becoming more visible to solos of all ages keen to experience and explore the globe.
Both men and women are enjoying the solo travel lifestyle, however, their reasons for holidaying alone differ. 69% of solo female travellers want to take time out of their busy lives. Whereas men opt for solo travel because they want the opportunity to experience a new place they have never visited before and also because they want to meet new people. But overwhelmingly, regardless of sex, the primary reason for vacationing alone is to have a carefree experience with no holds barred.
Interestingly, it’s not just singles who are travelling solo. In fact, many people who are part of a couple or even a family are choosing to take a vacation by themselves to experience the all-important ‘me’ time. It’s no wonder then, the travel market is responding by extending their range of holiday options to cater for an increasingly-demanding clientele who want all of the choice group travellers enjoy.