Say ‘solo traveller’ and you might think of a backpacking student on their gap year. But these days, that image could hardly be further from the truth, writes Cathy Winston, editor of 101 Singles Holidays www.101holidays.co.uk/singles
One of the biggest travel trends of the past few years is the number of Brits travelling alone. It is booming but the average age of single travellers is now 57, with women outnumbering men by two to one.
Based on new research from website 101 Singles Holidays (www.101holidays.co.uk/singles), the leading online guide to singles holidays, 63% of solo holidays in 2017 were taken by women, up from 58% in 2014 with numbers expected to rise another 11% year on year in 2018.Taj Mahal
An analysis of 62,656 singles holidays discovered the fastest growing destination for solo travellers to be India, followed by Italy and Sri Lanka, with tour operators crediting TV series The Real Marigold Hotel for boosting bookings.
The stigma surrounding singles holidays has largely disappeared. The number of single people in the UK has risen steadily over the past 15 years, plus many people in a relationship are also choosing to travel solo – often to pursue a favourite pastime.Cathy in Gran Canaria
The boom in singles holidays has been among the biggest trends in travel over the past few years, and this growth shows no signs of slowing. Many travel companies have launched singles-only tours and found they’ve sold out almost immediately.
Our changing lifestyles have helped fuel this dramatic growth. Not only are many more of us living alone, according to the Office for National Statistics, people not in a relationship made up 34.5% of the population in 2015 compared to 29.6% in 2002 and different attitudes mean women are playing a big part in the rise.
The biggest growth area is in women over 50. Previously, this group may have been reluctant to travel alone. But single, divorced and widowed women are now more empowered, confident and financially independent than ever before.Udaipur’s City Palace
As solo travel becomes more popular, the choice of destinations has increased as single travellers look for new adventures.
Peru, India and Sri Lanka are among the most popular countries to visit, while companies offer tours and trips across Asia, South America and Africa, plus the chance to get even further off the beaten track.The Healthy Holiday Company
101 Singles Holidays, which launched in 2015 to provide advice and inspiration to solo travellers, shows just how varied the options are with singles-only tours of Costa Rica; gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda, riding holidays in Mongolia and tours along the Silk Road – alongside activity and beach holidays throughout Europe, UK solos-only breaks, and ski, spa and cruise getaways.
Travellers are prepared to invest more in their trips. The average cost of a singles-only holiday is now £1,374, up 24 per cent since 2014 with tour operators attributing the jump to these more exotic destinations rather than rising costs.
And for the growing numbers who have discovered the joys of solo travel, this is only the beginning.
Specialist solo travel companies say the next trend will be for more ‘independent’ solo travellers – those who might want the security and peace of mind of booking with a tour operator, especially one which specialises in solo travel, but would prefer not to travel with a group.
Cathy’s tips for your first solo trip
It’s never too late to take your first solo trip. Here’s how to make yours the perfect journey.
- Find your travel style
Are you happiest surrounded by a group of people or do you prefer your own company – or do you want both? Solo travel is great for pushing you out of your comfort zone, but it’s also about finding the perfect break for you.
- Do your research
Travelling independently, it’s up to you to know where you’re going and how to get there. If you’re joining a group, quiz the tour operator to check it’s the right fit. Are they popular with solo travellers? What age range do they attract? What gender mix and so on? Specialist websites like 101 Singles Holidays (www.101holidays.co.uk/singles) are a mine of information.
- Check the extras
As well as flights, transfers and food, are there any unexpected extras including single supplements? More and more these days, you can find trips with no supplement or options to avoid one by sharing if you’re part of a group, so there’s no reason to pay over the odds.
- Don’t fear mealtimes
Eating alone is one of the biggest deterrents for solo travellers, but it needn’t be. Larger resorts and cruise ships often have communal tables, while group trips or solos-only house party style holidays ensure you can dine as part of a group.
- Pack light
Wherever you go, you’ll probably be carrying your own bags. There’s a good reason travellers recommend taking half the possessions you think you’ll need and twice the money…