We humans are sociable animals – it is in our nature to seek out other people to spend time with, and this extends to going on holiday. However, the make up of society is changing, and going on holiday alone is an increasingly popular trend – an indication of the fact that we are more travel minded, independent and adventurous than ever before. According to a recent Mintel report, an estimated 15.4 million Britons holidayed alone last year; an increase of 40% over the past decade, with the greatest surge in demand for solo holidays within the 25-34 age group, who have a high disposable income and the freedom to travel.
Not surprisingly, research suggests that men are happier to holiday solo than women – often for practical reasons such as safety. But women are increasingly breaking with the traditional perception that holidaying alone is solely for people who have no other choice - and are also branching out into increasingly exploratory activities.
Greg Moffat of Redpoint Holidays has been in the travel industry for over 15 years and has noticed a change in the type of experience that people are looking for. “Leisure time is hard earned and people are usually pretty clear about what they want. There is now a real demand amongst our female guests to holiday solo within the confines of an organised group,” comments Greg.
“The misconception that people holiday solo because they have no one to go with is slowly changing, whereas in my experience, the opposite is often true. Many people choose not to go on holiday with others; it may be that their partner or friends don’t share the same interests and don’t want to go hill walking or sit sweltering on a beach in the Mediterranean. Work commitments can also be an obstacle, whilst the increase in divorce rates combined with the fact that people are marrying later means that there are more single people around now. In addition to this, the nature of both people and travel has changed. People of all ages are more willing to travel alone. Instead of sitting at home twiddling their thumbs, today’s more adventurous travellers are getting up and going off by themselves. Travelling alone has lost its stigma.”
However, Greg believes that, whilst increasing numbers are happy to go on holiday without a friend or partner, many do like to have the company of like minded people at some point during their trip. “One of the things that Redpoint does is organise activity holidays, but some of these activities can be a little daunting, or even dangerous if you are doing them alone so we have dedicated activity weeks for solo travellers. Many of our clients aren’t actually single and they don’t come looking for romance: it’s purely an opportunity for a group of people to get together and have a go at some exciting activities like river rafting, mountain biking or canyoning. We have been running these weeks for a couple of years now and whilst each group has its own different dynamic, the overall feeling of camaraderie and support is always fantastic.”
Although the singles travel market has rapidly expanded during the last decade, the solo traveller often gets a poor deal from the industry: most hotels still charge supplements for single occupancy and guests may be crammed into smaller rooms despite paying over the odds for the privilege of sleeping alone. However, Greg believes that that there are ways of ensuring that holidaying on your own is an enjoyable experience – without breaking the bank. “If anyone is considering holidaying alone but is a little apprehensive, I would thoroughly recommend a well run solo break,” he comments. “Most reputable companies who offer these holidays are simply aiming to gather together groups of like minded people to have a good time. You may well also find that they have done away with the ubiquitous single supplement which can add considerably to the cost of a holiday.”
Five reasons to go solo
1. You will have loads of opportunities to meet new people. Activity holidays such as skiing, walking or rafting are great ice breakers and give you common experiences to talk and laugh about together.
2. Dining alone can be daunting for some – going on a solo week ensures that there are always familiar people you can sit with and have a drink or dine with – if you feel like it.
3. You have the opportunity to try something you’ve always wanted to do. If inner tubing is your partner’s idea of hell, you can get your adrenalin fix without worrying about a bored partner twiddling their thumbs back at the hotel.
4. By joining a special solo week, you avoid the costly single supplement – the bane of solo travellers everywhere!
5. For many, a holiday is a social situation: a solo holiday gives you the opportunity to socialise with like minded people during an action packed day, or over a glass of wine as the sun sets.
“There are more opportunities for solo travellers than ever before,” comments Greg. “So if you’re thinking of taking the plunge and going on holiday alone, go for it! Do your research and choose the right kind of trip for you. Who knows, you might even enjoy yourself so much that it becomes a habit!”
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