A Vacation for One

A Vacation for One

Reclaiming and rediscovering autonomy is a big adventure. It matters not that said autonomy may only be for a short vacation, it only matters that we can experience it. Solo travelling is trending but what is this trend anyway? It was noted at the recently held, annual Belize Tourism Board’s (BTB) B.O.O.M. Forum.  First of all, it is exactly what it sounds like. Some travellers are intentionally opting out of group or couples’ getaways, trading itineraries and scheduled events for spontaneity, and instead relishing in alone time.  According to a 2023 article from Forbes Magazine, a survey conducted by tour operators, Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) and Solo Traveller, indicated that 68% of participants identified themselves as independent travellers. This is as a significant development because only 27% of travellers were solo-minded back in 2017. Solo travel has been around for about a decade now but it seems that the forced isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic made people all the more comfortable with solitude. According to a 2024 article published in Travel + Leisure, “solo-travel will be a prominent theme in 2024, with 76% of millennials and Gen Zers saying they plan on taking a solo trip this year”. Who are the people most likely craving some autonomy? The solo-traveller trend owes its growing popularity to an interesting demographic.

The solo traveller is mostly American, mostly female, and mostly over 55.  These travellers are clearing their calendars to make time for their own individuality and they are travelling in order to connect with it. These travellers want independence and are deliberately prioritizing individual needs and wellness above all. With this trend, seclusion is the ultimate indulgence. Solo travelling is about getting away from regular life, regular routines and demands and connecting to back to self. The exact percentage will vary based on the source, but all of them indicate that women are leading this trend. More and more women are choosing to vacation alone which is creating new market demands like women-led tour groups and robust accommodation safety.  About 26 % of Millennial women said that they have already taken a solo trip while Gen Zers say they would prefer to travel alone. It is not a new trend but perhaps it has become more acceptable. And, for clarification, this type of traveller is choosing alone time, but that does not necessarily mean that they are single or childless. This is especially true since Parental Solo Travel is also becoming a “thing” where parents are planning child-free trips in order to prioritize exploration and self-growth. The demographics get even more interesting when we consider a 2024 report by Road Scholar, a popular tour company for people 50 and over. The report indicated that 85% of the company’s solo travellers are women who say they travel alone because it is easier to make new friends that way, they enjoy the autonomy, and they enjoy being able to choose their own destinations.  Sounds like solo travel has a certain feminist streak to it.  But, let’s not complicate what is meant to be the most uncomplicated form of travel.

Male or female, the solo traveller is looking to be free from all the usual things and perhaps all the usual people. This voyage is wanting to connect with self. In the past, travelling alone might have been too expensive but not so much anymore.  Tourism destinations are responding to this trend by creating special packages and tours, tailored for individuals. This travel market is expected to reach a valuation of USD 482.5 billion this year with significant increases in the coming years. That’s a whole lot of vacations for One- pun intended.

Chat again later.

Jasmine Anderson

For the Belize Tourism Board