Solo travelling has exploded in popularity in the past two years, with technological advances making single-handedly discovering all corners of the world easier than ever. Once upon a time, map-reading skills and a knowledge of other languages would have been a necessity. Today, travelling the world is arguably a far less daunting task as our smartphones are capable of helping us to navigate, communicate and keep us in contact with those at home and work.
The solo travelling trend was highlighted in recent research conducted by Hitwise – the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool – which analysed over 3 million consumer’s online searches in the UK. They found that there was a 143 per cent increase in search for "solo travel" searches over the past three years. Of these searches, South East Asia and New Zealand were among the most popular destinations. Further to this, the social media platform Pinterest reported an increase of up to 600 per cent in solo travel related pins over the last 12 months.
Interestingly, this trend does not seem to be solely dictated by age. The younger generation are certainly jumping on this trend, with Abta data finding that 12.5 per cent of people aged 18-24 years old had travelled alone in 2017 compared to the 4.5 per cent of 15-24-year olds in 2011. However, specialist solo travel holiday operator Just You says their customers range from ages 21-90, with the average solo traveller sitting in the 55+ age group. This indicates that people of all ages are responsible for this increase in solo travel.
While there seems to be a spectrum of different ages choosing to take on solo travel, there is little doubt which gender is pioneering the trend. Data suggests that women are the ones exploring the world on their own – Unique Home Stays found that in 2015 just 22 per cent of their solo travellers were men and a staggering 78 per cent women. Just two years later in 2017, this had figure had increased further and female travellers were accounting for 84 per cent of solo trips. Hitwise also found that searches for solo travel were most popular with women aged between 25-34 years old and living in London.
Changes in lifestyle have been cited as the main reason that people are travelling solo. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), between 2012 and 2016, flexi-time rose by 12.35 per cent and in 2015, 4.2 million people across a range of sectors worked from home. In recent years, companies – both small and large – have increasingly incorporated remote working strategies into their business models. This trend will only continue to grow: 50 per cent of workers are predicted to be working remotely by 2020 making it easier than ever for workers to travel the world.
Another factor affecting this shift in the way people choose to travel is that they are tending to stay single for longer. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that 51 per cent of people in England and Wales were single in 2011 – the last time a census was published – compared to 47 per cent in 2001. As more people are single and looking to travel, it’s natural that the proportion of those going on holiday alone increases too.
The opportunity to meet likeminded people and see everything the world has to offer is encouraging more people than ever to ditch the office and the nine to five to travel. Recent advances in technology have made remote working a viable alternative to going to the office. This, combined with having all of your travel essentials on your phone, means that travelling alone has never been this appealing or convenient.
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