ABTA has revealed a year-on-year rise in solo travel, with group trips for strangers and a desire for ‘me time’ driving bookings. Olivia Palamountain reports

Recent research from ABTA (a trade association for British travel agents) has shown a significant increase in the number of travellers opting to holiday alone.

According to its Holiday Habits report findings, 16 per cent of travellers went on solo trips in the 12 months to August 2023, compared to just 11 per cent during the previous 12-month period.

This uptick in solo travel represents a notable year-on-year increase and surpasses even pre-pandemic figures from 2019, when 13 per cent of travellers reported having holidayed alone in the 12 months to July of that year.

The data also revealed that solo travel is particularly popular among younger age groups, with nearly one in five (19 per cent) of 25- to 34-year-olds saying they had travelled by themselves, the highest percentage of any age group.

However, the most significant year-on-year increase was observed among those aged 35-44, where solo traveller numbers more than doubled from 6 per cent in 2022 to 13 per cent in 2023.

One style of solo travel that has gained traction, especially among younger age groups, is “independent travel”, where individuals travel alone but as part of a group trip.

While 7 per cent of all respondents said they travelled in this way in the 12 months to August 2023, this figure doubled to 14 per cent among 18-24-year-olds.

Graeme Buck, director of communications at ABTA, says that “society has evolved considerably in recent decades, with more people living alone and solo travel shedding its past stigma of loneliness”.

Indeed, the Google search term “solo travel” has increased in popularity every year since 2009. (Regiondo).

Buck attributed the rise in solo travel to increasingly busy lives driving a need for “me” time, as well as the widespread use of smartphones and travel apps making travelling alone much easier.

According to a survey of female solo travellers by Solo Traveler, 46 per cent said that the feeling of freedom and independence drives their decision to travel alone.

Another 22 per cent said they don’t want to wait around for other people, while 15 per cent of respondents claim that solo travel is a way to challenge themselves and gain confidence.

Buck also highlighted the various travel styles available for solo travellers, ranging from entirely independent trips to joining group tours where individuals have the freedom to choose their desired holiday while sharing the experience with like-minded travellers.

As the trend of solo travel continues to grow, it is evident that more and more people are embracing the opportunity to explore the world on their own terms, seeking out unique experiences and personal growth along the way.