If you've ever thought about taking on your own, you're not alone.
A new survey by tour operator Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) and Solo Traveler suggests 68% of participants identify themselves as independent travelers. It's remarkable a shift from the past, when single supplements — which routinely doubled the price of a cruise or tour — made a solo trip too expensive for most travelers.
Will 2024 be the year of the solo traveler? I asked OAT's CEO, Brian FitzGerald, for his thoughts on what these survey results mean — and how it could affect your next vacation. Here’s our interview:
What are the forces driving the trend toward solo travel in 2024?
The solo trend started more than a decade ago and has continued to gain steam. Back in 2017, 27% of our travelers were solos. In 2019, it was 39%, and 47% in 2021. Today, it’s 50%.
Post-pandemic, many travelers didn’t want to waste any time. They decided if no one wanted to travel with them, they’d go alone. That’s continuing to have a big impact.
Life transitions such as retirement are a main driver of solo travel, especially for women. Many older women find that it’s a great way to meet new people and make connections, whether through group tours or even shared accommodations.
I think a lot of American travelers are reluctant to take a vacation on their own. And I'll admit, I'm one of them. What would you say to someone like me, who is nervous about traveling solo?
I would say: You can travel solo while joining a small group. It’s the best of both worlds, really. You can decide for yourself how much time you spend with other travelers and how much is on your own.
Nearly half of the solo travelers responding to the survey this year said they like the company of other travelers. That’s why they join a group.
But how do you help someone overcome their fears of being alone?
It's really personal. You need to connect with other travelers before your trip. We have a Facebook group where people can do that.
I think it's important to work with someone who will take care of you. They'll meet you at the airport. They'll get you to your hotel. They'll facilitate the entire process.
You also have to work with someone who is tuned in to what's happening on the ground. When the attack on Israel happened, we had 65 people on the ground in Haifa. We got them out quickly, thanks to the expertise of people on the ground. I think those types of stories give people confidence.
What are some of the obstacles solo travelers have faced? How is the industry addressing those?
The single supplement is the biggest obstacle for solo travelers. The extra cost can make travel prohibitive for some travelers.
Why do travel companies charge single supplements?
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