09 Oct

More holidaying alone in order to do what they want

The number of people taking solo holidays up three-fold since 2011

More people are choosing to take a holiday by themselves because they don’t want to compromise on where they go and what they do, finds ABTA’s latest Holiday Habits report.

The trend for solo holidays has been growing in recent years with more than one in six people (15%) choosing to go on holiday by themselves in the past 12 months, up from 12% in 2017 and almost three times as many as those in 2011 (6%).

Having the opportunity to do what they want is the most common reason why people travel alone, with more than three in four (76%) saying this was the case - up 3% on last year – and rising to nine in 10 (92%) of 35-44 year olds.

The surge in solo travel has been attributed to a number of factors. As well as people wanting some ‘me time’, the increasingly widespread availability of Wi-Fi in destinations and use of smartphones and travel apps makes navigating the world alone less daunting. As well as making the logistics of travelling easier, people are now able to keep in touch with friends and family back home, sharing holiday experiences via social media.

There are also now many more options for anyone who wants to travel alone: whether that’s joining a group activity trip or taking a cruise, many travel companies are expanding their offer for solo travellers.

The places visited by solo travellers do vary slightly, compared to other holidaymakers. Asia is a particularly appealing destination for independent travel, with 22% of solo travellers visiting over the last 12 months, compared to an average of 15% among all types of holidaymaker. 2% say they had visited the Arctic or Antarctica, more than twice the number who travelled with friends or family.

Last year, many people saw solo holidays as a great chance to meet new people, but that’s become less of a priority among travellers, with just under a third saying this was why they chose a solo trip – down 10% on the previous year (31% vs 41% in 2017).

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said:

“There has been significant growth in the number of people travelling by themselves over the last few years – with the majority choosing to holiday solo so that they can do what they want.

“Going on holiday by yourself means you don’t have to compromise on your choice of destination, your itinerary or the activities you take part in. Whether they’re single or just want some ’me time’, people now have an incredible choice of holidays and destinations to choose from and it has become so much easier to explore the world. Travel companies have responded to demand by offering a diverse range of options for people booking by themselves.”

Solo holidays by age

  Average 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65-74 75+
2018 15% 11% 16% 16% 13% 17% 17% 22%
2017 12% 12% 10% 5% 12% 11% 18% N/A

The growth in popularity of solo travel is most noticeable among the 35-44 year olds, with an increase of 11% from last year (from 5% to 16%).

Those most likely to travel independently are aged 75+ - one in five have done so in the past year with the main reason being to take some time out (81%). Making new friends is less of a priority for this age group, with just one-fifth looking for the chance to meet new people (22%) compared to almost two-fifths of 55-64 year olds (38%).

Reasons for solo travel

The top three reasons for taking a solo trip are:

  1. Opportunity to be able to do what I want (76%)
  2. Chance to take some time out (63%)
  3. Visit a new destination (37%)

The reasons for travelling alone differ by gender, with women looking to take some time out (69%, vs 59% of men) whereas men see it as an opportunity to travel to a new destination (40% vs 34% women) and meet new people (34% vs 27% of women). Consistent with the overall findings, having the opportunity to do what they want is the main reason they chose to travel alone (80% of men and 71% of women).

The North West has seen the biggest increase, with 18% travelling solo in the past 12 months – double the number in 2017 (9%). Wales is close behind with the next highest uplift – 14%, compared to 6% last year.

Notes to editors

The full report is available to download from abta.com/holidayhabits2018.

Consumer research was conducted by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in leisure and tourism market research. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated responses from a nationally representative sample of 2,001 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to August 2018. Fieldwork was conducted between the end of July and beginning of August 2018.