The changing face of travel has developed a new breed of adventure seeking wanderers, establishing solo travellers as the new normal. Travelling alone is by no means a radical or new phenomenon, however, the recent growth of individual travellers seeking a bespoke experience is certainly on the rise.

Solo travellers are committed to their destinations but prefer a spontaneous approach to their itineraries, opting for a liberatingly ad hoc approach to their travels. Lured by the freedom of doing whatever they want and the perceived independence and challenge of travelling alone, travellers are increasingly setting off on their own. 24% of wanderers opted to travel alone in 2015, up from the 15% in 2013.

Private tour companies stand to gain from the rise of solo travel with unaccompanied travellers seeking this type of arrangement increasing three- fold since 2013. With sparse demographics spanning married baby boomers unable to holiday simultaneously, backpacking millennials to the more than half of American adults who are single, solo travel appears to be attracting anyone and everyone and travel companies are noticing.

Cruise companies who typically charged between ten and one hundred percent surcharges for single travellers are now not only doing away with those extra fees but are increasingly adding solo cabins. Online travel agents and review companies such as Trip Advisor are facilitating solo traveler filters to engage the growing market.

Solo travellers are favouring destinations off the beaten track that are postcard- pretty, action- packed, safe, and welcoming. Rural escapes, cultural immersions and quaint cities appear to be the order of the day as solo travellers pack their bags set for the increasingly popular and enigmatic regions of Asia, South America, Europe and Canada.

The Visa Global Travel Intentions Study of 2015 provides an intriguing insight into what appears to be the next big travel trend:

  • Interestingly, 37% of first time travellers chose to travel alone in 2015 up from the mere 16% in 2013.
  • Solo travellers are more likely to engage in active pursuits such as volunteering, trekking, backpacking, sports and extreme sports than those travelling in a group
  • Almost half of solo travellers are professionals or executives with a majority from Asia – particularly India and China
  • Profile of solo travellers:
    • 53% from Asia
    • 37% from the 25-35 year old age group
    • 35% considered affluent