Don’t feel like a weirdo for travelling alone. As these solo travel statistics reveal, taking a solo trip is no longer the preserve of the minority.
What do you think is the worst thing about travelling alone?
Is it the occasional loneliness of solo travel or safety concerns? And with no one to share costs, it can be more expensive. Or what about the perils of dining out alone, maybe it’s that dreaded table for one that gives you the heebie-jeebies?
Yes; these are all downsides of solo travel, but you can take concrete steps to overcome these disadvantages.
For me, the worst thing about solo travel is the uncertainty as to how other people view it. Reactions to the revelation that you are travelling alone sit on that spectrum from pity to admiration.
But here’s the thing: travelling alone deserves neither a bravery medal nor a shoulder to cry on. Furthermore, solo travel statistics challenge a commonly held perception that this is the preserve of a slightly weird minority.
Interested? Let’s take a closer look.
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Solo Travel Statistics: Data Sources
Before we start, a few words about the provenance of these solo travel statistics and trends.
Typing “solo travel statistics” into Google (other search engines are available) yields over 40 million results. The difficulty with assessing these articles is that often the sources aren’t referenced and where they are, many of the surveys cited are too old to be relevant.
In pulling together these statistics, I have used the best and most recent studies available. Where these studies didn’t provide the answer I was looking for, I’ve included a few additional studies, which are referenced where appropriate.
|Agoda ‘Solo Travel Trends. 2018||10,784 respondents. Global|
|British Airways Global Solo Travel Study. 2018||9,000 respondents from eight countries|
|Klook Solo Travel Survey. 2019||21,000 respondents from across 16 countries|
|Solo Traveler Reader Survey. 2020||2,915 respondents from the USA, Canada, Australia and UK.|
|Solo Female Travel Trends Survey. 2020||5,000 respondents. Global study. Female solo travellers only.|
Headline Solo Travel Statistics
Behind the Solo Travel Statistics
What proportion of people are travelling alone?
Let’s debunk one myth from the get-go: the majority of people are interested in travelling solo.
76% of those responding to the massive Klook survey indicated that they have taken a solo trip already or are considering it, regardless of age, gender or nationality.
Who is travelling alone?
Let’s drill down a little further (this is where it gets interesting).
Women vs men
Women are the driving force of the solo travel boom.
In line with other industry reports, 85% of solo travellers registered with Overseas Adventure Travel are women. In China, over ten times more women than men have made a solo trip abroad.
But a solo female traveller is not just a solo female traveller. A third of solo female travellers also travel with their spouses, 24% travel with their families and 18% also travel with a group of friends.
The rise of the mature solo traveller
In past years, solo travel was propelled by millennials heading off on a gap year prior to starting higher education. However, as the average age of the solo traveller is 47, today’s solo travel market is far from dominated by younger age groups.
Whilst millennials represent the largest proportion of those travelling alone, statistics reveal that mature solo travellers are closing the gap.
58% per cent of millennials worldwide are willing to travel alone, compared to 47% per cent of older generations. Asian solo travellers are more likely to be younger: millennials (41%) and Generation Zers (38%). However, Western solo travellers tend to be older: Baby Boomers (39%) and Generation Xers (24%).
A large 2018 study conducted by Booking.com found that 40% of 55 to 64-year old’s had taken a trip alone in the past year and a further 21% were planning to take one in the future. British Airways reports that more British men and women were over 50 on their first solo trip compared to any other country.
Where are solo travellers visiting?
What are solo travellers’ favourite destinations?
Across both genders, solo travellers favour cosmopolitan cities around the world. According to Agoda’s 2018 booking data, Bangkok was the top destination for Asian solo travellers, whilst London was favoured by Western solo travellers.
Tokyo is a popular choice for both Asian and Western travellers.
Thanks to the Solo Female Travel Trends Survey, there is a wealth of recent data to indicate favourite destinations for female solo travellers.
44% of seasoned solo female travellers recommend Europe as the ideal first-time solo travel destination for women. The top countries for those travelling alone for the first time are Spain, the UK, Thailand, Japan, Italy and Australia.
Women who haven’t travelled alone earmarked Italy, Greece, France, Australia and Japan as their ideal first solo travel destinations. However, Americans and Canadians preferred their own countries – Canada or the USA – for a first solo trip.
Overall, 20% of solo female travellers recommend the person’s country of origin as the best destination for a first-time solo trip.
The rise of the group tour
Taking a group tour is an excellent way for first-timers to test solo travel in a predefined and supported way.
17% of solo female travellers have joined a small group trip in the last year.
Cox & Kings, an upmarket tour group company, reports that about 25% of their recent bookings have come from solo travellers. In response to the growing solo travel market, this is one of the few operators that offer places with no single supplement across a number of departures.
The reasons for solo travel
We know that vacations give us the opportunity to relax and recharge, to escape from routine and explore new cultures. But why do people choose to travel alone?
The reasons tap into both the tangible and intangible benefits of solo travel.
Travellers of both genders want to see more of the world and are not willing to wait for others. They also value the freedom to do what they want when they want.
When solo female travellers were asked a similar question, they too valued the flexibility and freedom of travelling alone (56%) but also embraced the opportunity to challenge themselves (38%) and that for self-actualisation(18%).
What is are people’s concerns about solo travel?
For women, the number one fear is solo travel safety.
73% of solo female travellers worry about their safety. Furthermore, 42% of women who haven’t travelled on their own cite safety concerns as the reason for not doing it.
Across both genders, other key concerns are getting lost, feeling lonely when travelling alone (with some saying that making new friends on a solo trip is a “must-do”) and the higher cost of travelling solo, largely due to the dreaded single supplements. 44% of women say that the higher price of travelling alone is preventing them from taking their first solo trip.
Removing single supplements is the number one request from solo female travellers to the travel industry.
Although a number of small tour group companies have removed the single supplement, the cruise industry has been slow to respond to the growth in solo travel. Single cruise cabins have been in short supply or non-existent, and supplements approaching 100 per cent have penalised those travelling alone.
However, cruise lines are slowly recognising the lucrative solo traveller market, and are designing their ships accordingly.
With the introduction of their stylish single cabins, Norwegian Cruise Line has led the charge, and other operators are following suit. But as welcome as this is, single cruise cabins are not always a good deal, so do your homework before clicking on “Book.”
Defending the Wonderful Weirdness of Solo Travel
Ignore the stereotypes and misconceptions around solo travel. This is a formidable niche within the travel industry and its growth shows no sign of abating.
Google searches for the term “solo travel” almost tripled between Jan 2015 and Jan 2020 (source) and solo travel could be among the first segments to come back as the group tours start up again, post-lockdown.
So is solo travel really that weird?