You may need to reconsider if you think solo travelling was a no-go after years of imposed social distancing and isolation. As the numbers show, you may be in the wrong. With fewer restrictions and more freedom to explore, the last months have seen a sharp increase of excited travellers who book, pack and leave for trips alone.
The data collected by Booking.com confirm the trend. Pre-pandemic, only 14% of travellers were booking for one. By mid-2021, that number reached 23%. Meanwhile, the figures from Google trend show a massive increase of 761,15% (in the UK) of solo travellers. Moreover, companies that organize group tours noted the rise in the numbers of participants joining their offers alone.
It is difficult to tell whether men or women are more solo travellers – data are complex to be sorted clearly. Still, more and more people prioritize the opportunity to explore the world without (waiting for a) company. There is a shared idea that it can be a mean to meet like-minded travellers with whom to share the experience on-site instead of leaving with known companions from the get-go.
Since its conception in 2009, the website Solo travellers – “where solo travellers meet online“, as per its motto – yearly records data submitting surveys to this particular group of people, mainly US citizens but also from Canada, Australia and the UK. The most recent illustrate 2021’s trends. It shows that the main reason to go solo is to feel free, independent and in control.
Covid-19 has impacted some of the considerations that go into choosing one destination instead of another. In 2020, for example, 77% of respondents mentioned the requirement for quarantine upon arrival as the primary concern for planning to travel or limiting the destination options. Last year the main worry remained somewhat similar but shifted towards the vaccination rates; 66% of the respondents wanted passengers and staff to be inoculated, and 58% preferred destinations with high vaccination rates.
Travelling in the pandemic years
Compared to the former survey, in 2021, solo travellers were more ready to travel internationally. Most of them (69%) stated that the pandemic did not affect their financial ability to travel, and 17% even affirmed they had more money to spend on their journeys.
As for why people decide to explore the world alone, the specific answers collected by Solo Travels confirm the general trends; 66% affirm that when they travel, they don’t want to wait for others; 56% say “they want to do what they want, then they want“. And 46% like the feeling of freedom and independence travel alone gives them.
Not surprisingly, 70% of respondents declared that they prefer to plan independently, 56% on a budget and 43% to embark on some adventure. And regarding their future intentions for travel, 37% wanted to travel more sustainably and 26% to take more road trips.
A common trait in the survey that reviews solo travellers is the demographics of its respondents. Most of them are well educated, with a striking 85% of respondents affirming they have a degree or a post-graduate degree. Moreover, they are also frequent travellers, even though, compared to the previous year’s survey, in 2021, they had a lower interest in travelling more often (from 40% to 22%).
Even before these traumatic years of hardship and significant loss, travel has been seen as a means to ease life’s challenges. Seen as a way to escape, even briefly, from one’s routine, it has lately become an activity to fulfill alone. For some, even in a spiritual way, as shown by the rise in pilgrimages. This specific kind of solo travel, regardless of religious intentions, allows one to explore a more personal and spiritual side and to embark intentionally unaccompanied.
No matter how much of a social animal humans are, many of us today feel increasingly compelled to step aside from our routines, even if it just means to recover some “me time” exploring other places away from home. At the end of the day, as those who go solo agree, travelling alone is an incredible experience; it lets us connect with the outside and a different world and discover the one that is inside us.
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