Travelling solo is the new trend in Australian tourism.
But instead of seeking love in the arms of a tanned accented stranger, single travellers are more interested in finding themselves.
Far from being sad singles, the demographic is made up of those who leave behind a partner less interested in travelling, or those with an unquenchable desire to see the world.
Brett Mitchell of Melbourne’s Intrepid Travel told The Australian a survey of 1000 people found that solo travellers were jetting off in small groups with fellow singletons not to meet someone new, but to connect with themselves.
More women go on solo trips, he said, with percentages of 58 percent women and 52 percent men running higher than for the company’s other itineraries, which usually attract around 65 percent women and 35 per cent men.The appeal for many, Mitchell says, is that such trips aren’t pitched as tours for singles.
“This is particularly relevant for travellers who are setting off alone because their partners don’t want to visit those particular destinations,” he says.
The trend prompted Intrepid Travel to featured three solo-only departures last year which proved so popular, the company is upping its offer to 12 solo-only tours to countries that include Morocco, Peru, India, Vietnam and Indonesia.
Adventure company World Expeditions has also developed more self-guided trips to destinations such as Europe, Patagonia, Japan and Australia in response to demand from singles.
According to expedia.com.au, demand for single-occupancy hotel rooms last year rose by almost 40 per cent in Hobart, 30 per cent on the Sunshine Coast and 15 per cent on the Gold Coast.
Pinterest’s 2018 Travel Trend Report shows a 593 per cent surge from the previous year in ‘saved pins’ for solo travel, while Lonely Planet has published The Solo Travel Handbook complete with tips for overcoming loneliness and ways to stay safe on the road.
Solo travellers researching their dream adventures are one part of the equation, the other is singles signing up for group trips where the organisation is done for them.
Tour companies are experiencing a surge in single bookings, with cruises enjoying a generous piece of the pie.
And they’re reporting that many of those singles end up establishing deep new connections with strangers they meet along the way.
“We’ve had lots of people finding their soulmates on trips,” Sue Badyari of World Expeditions told The Australian.
“They might ring a year later and say, ‘We wanted to let you know we met on your Kilimanjaro trip and now we’re married.’
“We probably get a half-dozen marriages a year that we know of.”
But more than love, its generally friendships that are the most valued by-product of solo travel.
Guests often find “their tribe” by joining one of the company’s trips, says Badyari.