Au revoir, hubby! Women lead solo travel trend
THERE has never been a more exciting time to travel with more destinations, experiences and affordable options than ever before - and solo travellers, especially women, are signing up in big numbers.
No longer stigmatised as lonely hearts, solo travellers are choosing to travel independently for a number of reasons, often leaving partners or loved ones at home.
The safety of group tours, the opportunity to meet like-minded souls, the desire to connect with a sense of self, and a rising confidence to explore the world alone are all playing their part.
Brisbane-based company Albatross Tours specialises in European holidays and has seen a 20 per cent increase in the past three years in bookings made by solo travellers.
Marketing manager Michele Zavaglia said one in every five travellers at Albatross were unaccompanied.
"The younger baby boomers in their fifties are now starting to travel more. Many are divorced or never married, however they have reached a time in their lives where they can afford to travel. We also have lots of women travel with us and leave their partners at home, as their partners have no interest in travelling," she said.
Online travel agency Global Journeys based in Noosa Heads offers more than 4,000 tours and cruises worldwide.
It has experienced a sharp increase in the number of solo travellers in recent years, with most aged either in their twenties or over-65 and women accounting for a huge 80 per cent.
According to CEO Campbell Harris, travel accessibility and a broader range of experiences from luxury tours to camping trips has opened the doors for solo travellers.
"People who may never have wanted to travel alone but had not considered touring previously, in part due to the reputation of big busses and crowds following a bright paddle, are now exploring the options available to them," he said.
The most popular destinations for solo travellers with Albatross are Italy, Spain and France, while at Global Journeys they are noticing a trend towards adventure travel and immersive experiences.
"People want to have real in-depth experiences when they travel and to learn about the culture of the places they are visiting," Mr Harris said.
"They want to interact with the locals and discover the traditions and history of the region... With local guides, people on tour are given a different insight - they find themselves cooking in a local home and joining in on traditional dances and having those immersive moments that travellers tend to be chasing more of these days."
Other destinations such as South Africa, Mr Harris said, were more often chosen by families or small groups travelling together.
Touring is also becoming more affordable for solo travellers who are being targeted in deals that reduce fees for private rooms, or in some cases, waive the solo supplement altogether.
"Many of our adventure focused small group trips do not charge solo supplements and many of the river cruise operators are also offering single cabins, or 'no single-supplement offers' that are running throughout the season," Mr Harris said.
Albatross has recently released a brochure for solo travellers and is planning solo-only tours in the future.
"One of our Italian tours departing shortly will have 13 solo travellers, with no other travellers on board," Ms Zavaglia said.
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