If you think the idea of going on holiday by yourself sounds lonely, or maybe even a little sad, you are increasingly outnumbered – 1 in 6 Brits are now actively choosing to go away by themselves, according to new research.
The Association of British Travel Agents found that far from being a last resort for holiday makers, solo travel is becoming more desirable – leading tour operators to cater for the growing trend.
Historically, most holidays were sold based on two people travelling together, with lone travellers charged higher rates. But with a threefold increase in solo bookings since 2011, tour operators are having to re-think their strategies.
But why do people want to do it? Not only does it still carry somewhat of a stigma but there is always the question of safety: especially for female travellers.
More than 75 per cent of those surveyed said solo travel lets them do what they want without compromise, while 63 per cent it gave them time out and 37 per cent said they could visit new destinations.
“I strongly feel life is made of compromises,” said Marie Le Conte, who enjoys solo travel, on Twitter. “This is fine, but ultimately one week a year I like to have some time when I don’t have to take other people’s considerations into account and only do what I want to do, go where I want to go to, eat where I want to eat etc.”
Jess Shanahan agreed: “It’s the freedom to explore without constantly asking others what they’d like to do or worrying if they’re bored. I could walk around a new city all day taking photos and be quite happy.”
And Katya Jackson, said: “Also, I don’t have to wait for another person or group to get ready or finish dinner. It is time efficient. And if I don’t feel like going out in the evening I don’t have to come up with excuses.”
In fact, some people are so committed to their solo travel they avoid talking to other people about it. Janice Gordon told HuffPost UK: “I have been traveling alone for 30 years...if anyone says they want to join me I get anxious.”
There is also the question of availability - just because your friends don’t have time off work or enough money in the bank to travel, why shouldn’t you? Pip Jones said: “None of my friends really wanted to travel when I first started at eighteen, so I didn’t want to miss out on adventures. I became hooked.”
Phillipa Artus said: “Saving money is tough, and I liked travelling alone because it meant I got to spend my money how I wanted to and I didn’t have to do what other people wanted.”
And do they feel safe? Le Conte, who has visited Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, New York and Spain alone, said that she does. “[You] do have to be careful not to be out too late alone, but apart from that there’s never been an issue.”
Companies such as STA Travel, Saga, G Adventures and Costsaver are in the process of expanding options for solo travellers to give them more options.