Let me tell you my experience of solo holidays. Many years ago, to cheer myself up after a pretty traumatic break-up, I booked a solo holiday to Rome and Amalfi in Italy.
Whilst the beauty of the country didn’t disappoint, the whole experience was a rather depressing affair.
There was an air of embarrassment among the solo travellers (male and female) and much justification of what had led us to take what was, in those days, quite an adventurous step.
In keeping with the lacklustre and somewhat downbeat mood of the group, I can only say that the quality of the accommodation and the food we were provided was entirely in keeping.
From a tiny, pokey little room in the hotel in room with a single bed, to the cheap pasta slop we were given on arrival, everything served to reinforce our general unworthiness and cumbersome single status.
The room in the hotel in Amalfi was little better. I had to ask to be moved as the drains in the bathroom blocked, resulting in an aroma that certainly had nothing in common with the beauty of the fresh citrus scent from the lemon trees heavily laden down with fruit.
Times it seems have changed. 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.
Their research found that:-
- Twice as many women as men taking singles holidays
- Average age of solo holidaymakers is 57, compared to 54 in 2014
- “Real Marigold Hotel” sparks boom in solo travel to India
- Average spend on singles holiday is £1,374
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.
As Cathy Winston, Editor of 101 Singles Holidays, says “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.”
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.
Examples of trips & tours offered by companies recommended by 101 Singles Holidays:
- Cox & Kings offers a luxury “Exotic India” 13-day small group tour for solo travellers only. Guests visit India’s capital Delhi, the Taj Mahal, Ranthambore National Park and the palaces of Rajasthan for £2,995 in a double room for single occupancy including all travel, accommodation and some meals.
- Friendship Travel offers house-party style gulet cruises in the Greek Islands and Turkey from £950 full board, including flights and a double cabin for single occupancy.
- Journey Latin America offers a ten-day “Highlights of Peru” small group tour with a mix of solo travellers and couples. From £2,341 (sharing a room with someone else of the same gender) and £2,821 with a guaranteed single room throughout (international flights extra). See Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca.
- Solos Holidays offers weekend dinner dances, themed weekends and festive breaks throughout the UK. For example, an 80s night in Wiltshire in April for £175 including dinner, bed and breakfast, a welcome drink and 80s disco.
- Saga Holidays offers a range of hotels with no single supplement and a welcome drinks reception to meet other solo guests. A week in the Hotel Universal Romantica in Majorca, for example, costs from £529 half-board in a twin or double room for single occupancy and including flights.
There’s never been a better time, it seems, for us over 50’s to brush the dust off our passports and get out there exploring. Look what it did for Elizabeth Gilbert in her best-selling book “Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search For Everything“!
For more information go to www.101holidays.co.uk/singles
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