Rising searches on the subject, ever more singles-oriented tours and proliferating books on the theme all point to a steady growth in people taking solo journeys. It has been identified as one of the big trends for 2018 and the industry is quickly reacting as research shows that solo travellers are more likely to book their journey close to departure date, are willing to spend more and use traveller reviews and endorsements more than group travellers.
Discovering a new place alone opens up many possibilities, and traveling solo means that adventurous individuals can completely set their own agendas. A new report commissioned by online travel experts ebookers.com using its own 2017 booking data shows that Amsterdam is the most popular solo travel destination ahead of New York, Las Vegas and Rome. The rest of the top ten solo markets comprise Dublin, London, Berlin, Venice, Budapest and Paris. There is also a clear trend towards solo beach holidays in Europe.
The data insights show solo travellers are more likely to book a package holiday than group travellers, yet pay 9% more. However, when solely booking hotels, solo travellers choose to pay for the cheaper option and tend to favour independent hotels over big chains. Also they tend to choose hotels with a higher number of traveller recommendations with safety a key concern for solo travellers.
Looking deeper into the traveller demographic, the ebookers.com data shows that solo travellers can decide to embark journeys in the spur of the moment. They are more likely to book long trips within only a couple of weeks of departure compared to group travellers who generally do so around two months ahead of departure. Solo travellers are also more like to book overseas adventures (76%).
“The rise in solo travellers is incredible and one we expect to see continue,” says Mark McKenna, commercial director at ebookers.com. “Being a solo traveller shouldn’t stop you from exploring the world, and going it alone opens you up to meeting new people and allowing you to do it entirely your way.”
Alongside the report findings, ebookers.com have provided a list of ten solo travel recommendations to ensure any adventure is all about joy and personal enrichment, rather than loneliness or risk. These comprise:
Get to know your travelling buddy (that’ll be you) – There’s possibly no better way to get to know yourself than when travelling solo – but a little foreknowledge helps, too. Fess up to yourself: how much solitude can you really handle? How will you deal with confronting – possibly risky – situations alone? Among the travel skills of communication, budgeting and planning, where do you shine and where could you brush up?
Enjoy being self-indulgent – Ignore that naysayer whispering in every solo traveller’s ear: “Aren’t you being selfishgoing solo? Surely, travelling is an experience best shared.” Guilty as charged. Solo travel is, by definition, self-indulgent. You get to do, see and spend what you want – for once in your life. Enjoy it.
Just don’t shut yourself off – A little self-indulgence is fine but avoid solipsism: retreating within. Instead, look outwards and gobble down the feast of new sights, smells and sensations travel serves up every day.
Shed the hayseed look – Gorge on the sensory smorgasbord of a new country or city but don’t make it too obvious. Few things better attract the attention of dodgier types than a solo traveller wandering around like a wide-eyed rube who’s just seen traffic lights for the first time.
Go social with your accommodation – Forget vast, anonymous chain hotels, however cheap or convenient: they’re no friend of solo travellers. Opt instead small hotels or even hostels. Here you’ll find a warmer ambience and bustling communal areas to meet new friends. You could try social networking apps such as SoloTraveller to kick things off.
Embrace your inner party-pooper – Once you’ve found that friendly little family-run hotel, try this to avoid the awkward experience of going out in the evening alone: don’t. Instead hit the sack soon after dinner (on which subject, see below) and rise with the sun. Then go exploring, and you’ll find a largely people-less morning landscape to discover on your own.
Get snap happy – That so-called magic hour after dawn is – along with dusk – one of the best times of day for photography. Indeed, travelling solo is an excellent chance to refine that great travel skill: making memorable images. With a little technical knowledge and plenty of practice, your pics should look increasingly impressive.
Swallow your dining fear – The biggest dread of lone travel for many people – dining alone – even has a name: solomangarephobia. One trick to overcoming it? Cultivate an aura of mystery. Who is that self-possessed person sitting over there, you want people to think. (That it’s Denise, an adventurous junior account manager from Scunthorpe, is irrelevant.) Try this, and a surprising number of your fellow diners being bored by – and boring – their travel partner will probably long to be in your place.
Know the dangers – You’re your own bodyguard, travelling alone. If you’re going anywhere a little risky for the day, leave a note in your accommodation or a post on social media saying you’ll report back later, when all’s well. Plan to arrive somewhere new before nightfall, if you can. When you get there, your hotel reception or home-sharing host should be able to advise on the seamier sides of town. And that hoary piece of travel advice – dress modestly? What, when I’ve just rocked up in this sensual tropical paradise and I’ve got a tan to cultivate? Put it this way: few travellers – singles especially – have got into trouble abroad from covering up too much.