More than a decade ago, when I first started to study single life in earnest and not just live it, I took a look at how different groups and markets seemed to view single people. One of them was the travel industry, and wow, was I appalled. I found appeals written for the single traveler, but they all seemed to assume that people traveling on their own had just one goal – to come home coupled. Marketers touted all the eligible suitors the solo travelers might meet and all the wonderful social events on the schedule to bring them together. And if singles were charged far more for their reservations than couples, well too bad.
Today, much has changed for the better. There is no better chronicler of solo sojourners and their place in the contemporary travel industry than New York Times writer Stephanie Rosenbloom (also mentioned in previous posts here and here and here). In “Travel Industry Responds to Rise in Solo Sojourners,” I found 5 fun facts that either surprised or delighted me. I’m presenting them in the form of quiz items. See how many you can get correct:
- Think about people who travel for fun, and not in their own country. Of all those people around the globe pursuing leisure travel in different lands, what percentage of them do you think are traveling on their own?
- Who do you think is doing the vast majority of that solo traveling, the stereotypically brave, rugged individualist men or the women who are stereotypically the cowering fragile flowers fearing for their safety?
- Of those Americans who are 45 and older and have traveled solo, do you think more of them are married or unmarried (either single or divorced)?
- What’s your guess about how solo travelers react to experiences? Specifically, for the 45 and older group (I’m talking about them because AARP has made survey data available for that group), what percentage of solo sojourners liked it enough to plan to travel alone again in the next 12 months?
- As more and more people make it clear that they are interested in traveling on their own, how has the travel industry responded?
- They know they can soak this eager, expanding customer base, so solo travel is becoming even more expensive.
- More companies are offering more deals and better deals for the solo sojourners.
Now I’ll put a bit of space between these questions and the answers by sharing a few choice quotes from the article.
- A woman who works for a travel agency with many baby boomers and seniors as customers explains why solo travel can be quite appealing to married mothers: “after having taken care of spouses and kids for so many years, it’s nice to have an experience on one’s own without worrying, ‘Is Fred having a good time?'”
- As for what first-time solo travelers told Rosenbloom about what surprised them, one said, “Looking back, the one thing I wish I’d known was not to be so nervous the first time.”
- 24 percent – nearly one in four
- Solo travelers are overwhelmingly women
- 53 percent are married (that surprised me)
- More than 80 percent
Traveler photo available from Shutterstock