The Wonderful Weirdness of Solo Travel: Statistics & Trends (2024 Update)

What do you think is the worst thing about travelling alone?

For me, the worst thing about solo travel is 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.

young woman looking at golden pagoda in asia

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 nearly 10,000 results. The difficulty with assessing these articles is that often the sources aren’t referenced. Where the source is available, many surveys are too old or too small to be relevant or representative.

In pulling together these statistics, I have used the biggest and most recent studies available. Where these studies didn’t provide the answer I was looking for, I’ve included a few smaller studies, which are referenced where appropriate.

Agoda ‘Solo Travel Trends. 201810,784 respondents. Global
British Airways Global Solo Travel Study. 20189,000 respondents from eight countries
Klook Solo Travel Survey. 201921,000 respondents from across 16 countries
Solo Traveler Reader Survey. 20232,337 respondents mainly from the USA, Canada and UK
Solo Female Travel Trends and Statistics 20242,337 respondents mainly from the USA, Canada and the UK
Solo Travel Statistics: Data Sources

Headline Solo Travel Statistics and Trends

an infographic of solo travel statistics
Key Solo Travel Statistics 2024: Infographic

Let’s debunk one myth from the get-go: the majority of those surveyed were interested in travelling solo. 76% of those responding to the massive Klook survey indicated that they had already taken a solo trip or were considering it, regardless of age, gender or nationality.

Smaller, more recently published data support this finding.

Older women are leading the charge

a woman holding up a glass of red wine

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. 72% of solo female travellers also travel with others, be it their spouse, their families or their friends. This indicates that solo travel is just one of many travel styles that women adopt.

In past years, solo travel was propelled by millennials heading off on a gap year before 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.

infographic with statistics for over 50 singles travel

Europe and Thailand remain popular choices for first-time solo travellers

What are solo travellers’ favourite destinations?

Perennial favourites for a first solo trip are European countries – notably Italy, the UK, Spain and Portugal – and Thailand. Recent data indicate that older American women favour the USA.

Other solo bucket list destinations are Japan, Iceland, Greece, Australia and Costa Rica.

Overall, 20% of solo female travellers recommend the person’s country of origin as the best destination for a first-time solo trip.

harbour in lake garda viewed through a giant red heart
Italy remains a popular solo travel destination

Group tours are hugely popular

Taking a group tour is an excellent way for first-timers to test solo travel in a predefined and supported way.  This is a growing trend in helping many women book their first solo trip.

The most recent data suggest that 76% of women who have never travelled solo would be more likely to do so on a small group tour. 60% of those responding to the Solo Traveler World survey indicated they had joined a group tour in 2023, up 10% from the previous year.

hikers who are part of a group travel for singles standing on stone steps against a deep blue sky

The rise of solo cruising

Cruising can be a superb solo travel experience.

Research commissioned by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) in 2023 and involving 2,000 adults found that over a third of Brits preferred to travel alone. Furthermore, a cruise was high on these travellers’ wish lists (source).

Cruise lines’ recognition of the growing solo traveller market and their introduction of solo staterooms is a step in the right direction. However, these single cruise cabins are not always good value.

balcony of cabin on adriatic sea cruise with aperol spritz drink on table
Aperol Spritz on balcony

People travel alone out of necessity and in a bid for freedom

We know vacations allow us to relax, recharge, 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 unwilling to wait for others. They also value the freedom to do what they want when they want.

Other motivations for going solo included meeting new people, personal growth, practising self-care, and connecting with locals.

Personal safety and cost are the main barriers to solo travel

For women, the number one fear is solo travel safety. This is a consistent finding across all published studies.

Up to 75% of women who have never been on a solo trip worry about their safety. Safety concerns drop to 52% for experienced solo travellers.

The higher cost of travelling solo is largely due to the dreaded single supplements on holiday accommodation. 64% of women say that the higher price of travelling alone prevents them from taking their first solo trip.

Removing single supplements is the number one request from solo female travellers to the travel industry.

Across both genders, other key concerns are dining out alone, getting lost, feeling lonely when travelling alone (with some saying that making new friends on a solo trip is a “must-do”).

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. If anything, it is a segment of the travel market that has quickly recovered from the pandemic.

Google searches for the term “solo travel” almost tripled between Jan 2015 and Jan 2020 before plummeting during the Covid pandemic. These searches have quickly regained popularity.

graph showing searches for solo travel in google
Data @ Google Search Trends, extracted March 2024(source)

So is solo travel really that weird?

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.