Women over 50 lead boom in solo travel

* Women outnumber men by two to one, new study finds

* Average age of single travellers has risen to 57

The number of Brits taking singles holidays is booming, with people spending more and visiting ever more exotic destinations. The biggest growth area is women over 50, according to the biggest data crunch of its kind by leading online guide to singles holidays, 101 Singles Holidays.

The analysis of 62,656 singles holidays taken in 2017 found that female travellers outnumbered male by almost two to one: 63 per cent of the solo holidays were taken by women, compared to 37 per cent by men. In 2014, a similar study found the split was 58 per cent female and 42 per cent male.

The fastest growing destination for solo travellers was India, followed by Italy, then Sri Lanka, with tour operators crediting the TV series, “The Real Marigold Hotel”, for boosting bookings to India. Overall, the most popular destination was Italy, followed by Greece, then Spain.

The number of people booking solo holidays rose by 14 per cent, year on year, in 2017, and tour operators are predicting a further rise of 11 per cent in 2018, year on year.

The research found that the average age of a singles holidaymaker was 57, with a hefty 70 per cent aged 50 or over. In 2014, a similar study found it to be 54.

The average booking cost of a singles-only holiday was £1,374 (not including spending money), up 24 per cent since 2014. However, tour operators say this is a result of single travellers being more adventurous in their choice of destination, rather than prices rising.

Cathy Winston, Editor of 101 Singles Holidays, commented:
“The stigma surrounding singles holidays has largely disappeared. The number of single people in the UK has risen steadily over the past 15 years, plus many people in a relationship are also choosing to travel solo – often to pursue a favourite pastime such as skiing, golf or yoga.

“The biggest growth area is in women over 50. In previous generations, this group might have been reluctant to travel alone, but single, divorced and widowed women are now more empowered, confident and financially independent than ever before. And they are being more adventurous with their choice of destination, with Sri Lanka, India and Peru among the most popular destinations, partly driven by TV programmes such as The Real Marigold Hotel.

“The boom in singles holidays has been among the biggest trends in travel over the past few years, and this growth shows no signs of stopping. Many travel companies have launched singles-only tours and found they’ve sold out almost immediately.

“Specialist solo travel companies say their customers are looking to visit ever more far-flung destinations and take more adventurous trips. They say the next trend will be for more ‘independent’ solo travellers – those who might want the security and peace of mind of booking with a tour operator, especially one which specialises in solo travel, but would prefer not to travel with a group.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, people not in a relationship made up 34.5% of the population in 2015 compared to 29.6% in 2002. In the UK in 2017, there were 3.9 million people living alone aged 16 to 64 years, of which 58.5% were men. At the same time there were 3.8 million people aged 65 and over living alone, of which 66.5% were female.

101 Singles Holidays launched in 2015 to provide advice and inspiration to solo travellers. Its 101 travel ideas include everything from dinner dances in the UK and house party beach holidays in Spain to hotels with no single supplement in Sri Lanka, gorilla trekking in Rwanda and a singles-only tour of India.