The greatest, most fabulous solo travel trend I've seen in my almost eight years of publishing Solo Traveler is the growing confidence for travelers to go it alone.
In my first year people found Solo Traveler by googling “is it weird to travel alone?”.
Solo travel was an outlier travel experience.
It's now mainstream. I pretty sure I could have predicted that trend in 2009.
But what about 2017? What trends might there be for solo travelers since this market niche is now large and legitimate. So what are the trends for solo travelers going forward?
2017 Sees Still More People Traveling Solo
It seems that not everyone who will travel solo has traveled solo. The market niche and, therefore, our community will continue to grow.
- Vantage, one of the companies that promotes their solo tours on our Advisory of deals, has seen a growth of 11% in the number of solo travelers booking for 2017 departures. Those who join their tours alone now represents 8,010 of all travelers compared to 7,205 in 2016. 60% of those signing up as solo travelers are women.
- A booking engine for yoga retreats surveyed 300 people about their 2017 travel plans and learned that 51% will take their next holiday solo. For the Germans surveyed that figure is 80%, the Brits came in at 69% and Canadians at 67%.
- Looking at Google Search trends, the number of searches for the term “solo travel” and “travel alone” hit a peak in the first week of January this year at about 25% higher than the same week year and its highest ever.
Popular Destinations for Solo Travelers in 2017
- Based on what countries people have searched in our Accommodation Guide in the past three months, solo travelers are looking at home destinations with the US and the UK being number one and two. I suggest that this means people are traveling their hope country because these are also number one and two in terms of where our readers live. Runner's up include Italy, France, Spain and Thailand.
- The Destinations section of Solo Traveler comes up with different results. Top posts were on Berlin, Cuba, San Francisco, Mexico City and Taipei though in this case it could just be curiosity whereas with searches of the Accommodation Guide would likely mean that people have actively planning a trip to that destination.
- Tracking the bookings by solo travelers with Vantage Culinary Delights & Historic Treasures on The Seine 2017, Best of Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana & Namibia 2017 and Majestic Rivers of Europe: Castles, Cathedrals & Fairytales 2017 are shaping up to be the most popular destinations for 2017. All are offered with no single supplement through the links above.
Tour Companies Have Noticed Solo Travel Trends
Since we started our Deals page in 2009 the growth in the number of companies catering to solo travelers has been steady at times and faltering at others. Advocacy is one of the three pillars of our mission at Solo Traveler. We work to find companies that waive the single supplement and encourage other companies to do the same. I'm pleased to say that we've had success on both counts.
- Every month we find a few new companies wanting to understand the solo travel market.
- Every month at least one new company makes the commitment to solo travelers and advertises on our Solo Travel Advisory of Deals.
I think it's safe to say that in 2017 more tour companies will offer more trips without a single supplement.
Cruise Industry Continues to Increase Solo Cabins
I love the take in this article on Skift, a travel industry journal. In writing about the Queen Mary II, the luxury, long-distance cruise ship, they note that while it has long catered to dogs and cats it is finally giving solo travelers a bit of royal treatment as well. Unfortunately that's all it said. The fact that the ship now has solo staterooms was a throw-away line. Argh! The renovation resulted in 15 staterooms for solo travelers.
The cruise industry is a tough nut to crack for solo travel. Unlike tour companies that can modify their tour, negotiate with hotels and take other steps to adjust their financial model to serve solo travelers, a cruise ship is self contained. The business model is tight and less flexible. Yet still, as per the Queen Mary II, more ships are being built with solo cabins and despite them being small and expensive, people are buying. According to figures from Cruise118.com, the number of people booking a solo cruise doubled in 2016 over 2015. I capacity continues to grow I expect that the trend for solo cruisers will be growth as well.
Travel Trends by Country
Every country faces unique circumstances and this is particularly the case in the US, UK and Canada in 2017. Here are trends expected for these three countries.
Travel Trends US: Take More Vacation Time
The upward trend of escaping work and taking vacation time is, HOPEFULLY, most prevalent in the United States. The reason is that it is the country where people have been least likely to take their vacation time. The American currency is strong at the moment so it is a good time to go.
A year ago I was at the annual meeting of the Society of American Travel Writers and the keynote speaker, Roger Dow of the US Travel Association, spoke about America's Vacation Deficit, the harm it does to employees and the financial liability it creates for companies. Using vacation time is a win-win for business and employees. Time off is shown to improve overall health, it reinvigorates an enthusiasm for work, stimulates creativity and generally makes workers more interesting. There are now companies that offer incentives to employees to take their vacations, some that have a minimum vacation requirement and still others that offer unlimited vacation options. I'm putting this in as a trend as I hope readers will promote it by taking all their vacation time and encouraging everyone you know to do the same.
Travel Trends UK: Let's stay home. Well, maybe.
The biggest news out of the United Kingdom last year was Brexit and according to the 2016 World Travel Market Report 65% of Brits “fear their holidays will cost more next year  because of Brexit – and almost a third of travel firms expect to raise prices as a result of the vote to leave the European Union.” Caroline Bremner, Head of Travel and Tourism Research at Euromonitor International is quoted in the report: “In terms of UK outbound, the drop in the pound and the economic uncertainty will be a big drag on UK residents travelling abroad, which will be a boon for domestic tourism”. The expectation is that there more Brits will enjoy staycations however the results are not yet in.
Travel Trends Canada: Stay at Home
The Canadian dollar is low and 2017 is the 150th anniversary of Canada. These are two great reasons for Canadians to travel their own country. There will be celebrations across the country so why go elsewhere when you'll get the most fun for your dollar at home? That's what many Canadians will do. Stay home. As for me, I'll still travel outside the country but I'll travel at home as well. My first trip is to Quebec City where I'll take a week of French classes. My resolution for 2017 is to become fluent in my countries second official language.
So there you go. There are the 2017 solo travel trends predicted, expected and in one case, hoped for.