by Penny Walker from The Telegraph, October 10, 2018
This morning, ABTA released its eighth annual Holiday Habits report analysing the habits of British holidaymakers.
Perhaps one of the most interesting and revealing findings was in regard to solo travel. According to ABTA, more of us are opting to go it alone than ever before – but not simply as a result of having no one to go with.
Looking at the basics, the report claims that the number of Britons travelling solo has increased by almost one third since 2011. “More people are choosing to take a holiday by themselves because they don’t want to compromise on where they go and what they do," the report says.
Earlier this year, Telegraph Travel’s Annabel Fenwick Elliott examined why so many of us now choosing to travel alone: “If you’re roaming the world alone, you’ll fall into one of two categories: someone who simply doesn’t have a companion to join them on their travels, or someone who actively chooses not to bring along friends or a spouse.”
Today’s solo traveller is no longer defined by their relationship status or whether they have like-minded friends. Instead, they are increasingly choosing to leave their loved ones behind in order to do what they want, when they want and get a bit of hard-won ‘me time’.
The recent ABTA reports shows that this has never been more true: “Having the opportunity to do what they want is the most common reason why people travel alone, with more than three in four (76 per cent) saying this was the case - up 3 per cent on last year – and rising to nine in 10 (92 per cent) of 35-44 year olds.”
It would seem that choosing to travel solo is an increasingly an endeavour of self-preservation. As Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “Going on holiday by yourself means you don’t have to compromise on your choice of destination, your itinerary or the activities you take part in. Whether they’re single or just want some ’me time’, people now have an incredible choice of holidays and destinations to choose from and it has become so much easier to explore the world.”
One of the biggest pitfalls of travelling solo is cost, with a third of people saying they felt disadvantaged by choosing to travel alone. Half of them, for example, have had to pay a single person supplement as a result of going solo.
Telegraph Travel’s Anna Hart recently wrote: “Being single, it seems, is the most indulgent of 21st-century luxuries...the cost [is] an additional £2,049 per year... Depressingly, travel was the expense with the biggest price difference between a single traveller and a couple sharing.”
At the start of the year, Telegraph Travel launched the Safer, fairer better campaign, calling for the eradication of unfair solo supplements and this seems to be gaining some traction, with holiday providers increasingly aware of the need to cater to solo travellers.
“It’s time to break down barriers to solo travel, to reduce the cost of travelling alone and to increase the range of experiences that are open to people travelling without partners or families,” Joel Brandon-Bravo, Travelzoo’s general manager, told Telegraph Travel.
“Solo travel is no fleeting fad”, adds Hart. “Hoteliers and tour operators need to start treating solo travellers less like an anomaly, and more like the customer base of the future.”
And it’s not just the traditional age brackets of the under 34s and over 55s that are seeing growth. Pioneering solo traveller Dervla Murphy recently wrote: “Of course solo travel isn’t the preserve of Oldies like me. There’s a solo trip for just about anyone of every age – whether you’re 25 or 55 or whether you’re an intrepid traveller or an experience seeker.”
Given the current trend of solo travel offering the opportunity for more ‘alone time’, it is perhaps unsurprising that the biggest growth in solo travel was found in the 35-44 bracket where there was a staggering 11 per cent increase from last year (up from 5 per cent in 2017 to 16 per cent in 2018).
So where are these travellers heading? According to the report, “Asia is a particularly appealing destination for independent travel, with 22% of solo travellers visiting over the last 12 months, compared to an average of 15% among all types of holidaymaker. 2% say they had visited the Arctic or Antarctica – more than twice the number who travelled with friends or family”.
Other findings include figures that support reported travel trends including an a return to booking through travel professionals, the diversification of cruise travellers and that, despite increased financial pressures, Britons remain committed to their holidays.
Inspired? Check out our 25 life-changing solo holidays for 2018