The trend is being driven by demographics and a huge pent-up demand among British travellers to explore the world in the years following Covid.

A survey by Booking earlier this year found that 38% of UK travellers plan a solo trip in the next 12 months, compared to 30% in the previous year. More women than men now travel solo, and they stay longer - an average of 12 days in 2023 compared to 10 days in 2022.

To dig deeper behind these headline statistics, the team at 101 Singles Holidays asked some of Britain’s leading specialist travel companies about what solo travellers can expect in 2024.

Adventurous destinations

When it comes to choosing a solo travel destination, the well-established favourites remain the likes of Greece, Portugal, Spain, France and Thailand. But there’s a rapid rise in group trips to more exotic and adventurous countries. Cox & Kings reports a surge of bookings in 2024 to Argentina, Vietnam, Oman, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan - destinations that combine dazzling nature and fascinating culture.

Adventurous Destinations - Argentina

Vietnam, India and Japan are all on the rise, according to On The Go Tours, with many travellers now booking at the last minute. “We used to see clients booking long haul travel many months in advance, but people are being much more spontaneous now,” said senior marketing executive Ben Bromley.

Japan is also a new favourite destination for clients of the solo travel specialist, Just You, with a significant interest in the cherry blossom season and autumn colours. Wendy Wu Tours, the Far East expert, is seeing a surge in bookings by single travellers across the region.

Closer to home, Iceland, Norway and Finland are all becoming increasingly popular with solos, according to the specialist operator, Regent Holidays.

Increased spending power

Solo travellers are getting older and more affluent, with many over-50s now exploring the world for the first time, or recreating the trips they made as young backpackers in the 1980s or 1990s. But this time around they’re doing it in style.

Increased Spending Power - River Cruising

Singles specialists say more clients are booking flight upgrades and paying for their own rooms, rather than take up the offer of sharing with a traveller of the same sex. Friendship Travel, which has seen a 12% increase in bookings over the past 12 months, says customers are no longer ready to rough it. “People are increasingly asking for decent flight times, mid-morning out and afternoon back. Guests are no longer interested in flights leaving at 5am or returning in the middle of the night,” said managing director Colum McLornan.

River cruising, which has never been cheap, is growing in popularity with older single travellers. Specialists Riviera Travel were seeing so much demand that they introduced solos-only river cruises this summer.

Be active!

Solo travellers are increasingly scorning the sun bed, and instead seeking out more active holidays. Ramblers Walking Holidays has a growing number of guests travelling alone, while Friendship Travel is introducing new trips for 2024 focused on activities, including painting trips to Italy, Portugal, Greece and Ireland, and walking tours in Turkey, Morocco and England.

Be Active - Ramblers Walking Holidays

Solos Holidays says many clients now want to combine adventure and time on the beach - it has recently introduced group trips to Mexico, Costa Rica, and Southeast Asia that include lazy days as well as action-packed itineraries. Its Kenya Safari and Beach tour is already proving popular in 2024.

Social trends

Solo travellers tend to be sociable creatures - but they value their own independence. Flavours Holidays, which runs cooking, painting and Pilates trips, says 70% of its guests travel solo. They recently conducted a survey of clients. “Two thirds of respondents said what they most enjoyed about solo travelling was meeting new people and making new friends,” said founder Lorne Blythe. “This was followed by having the flexibility to choose their own schedule and follow their own interests.”

Be Social - Flavours Holidays

You don’t need to be single to travel solo, according to Friendship Travel, which says many of its guests leave a partner at home, particularly if they want to follow a personal passion. For those who live alone, Christmas and New Year are increasingly popular times to travel - a chance to get away and meet new people while the rest of the world is at home with family.

By Mark Hodson
November 2023