Why Some Solo Travellers Feel Like Misfits

Why Some Solo Travellers Feel Like Misfits

In your 20’s or even your 30’s it’s easy to travel solo when you know there’s a well-trodden backpacker path or companies like Contiki and Top Deck catering for your age group and your ‘single’ status. But what are the options for the mature solo traveller?  Too often, mature travellers feel they don’t belong on cruises and tours and it’s one reason why some solo travellers are missing out.

Years before starting my travel company for solo travellers I lead two different tour groups across South America.  In my first group, there were only two solo travellers in the group – everyone else was part of a couple. It was the same again with my next South American group. It raised the question – where were all the other solo travellers?   This was the first time I had an inkling that maybe solo travellers were missing out, but the big question was why?

Looking at the Facts

In first-world countries, like Australia, there has been a significant change in the number of people without partners and one-person households, compared to earlier generations.

  • The proportion of one-person households increased from 15.7% of households in the 1976 Census to 24.4% in the 2006 Census (as reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics)
  • By 2026 it is predicted that one-person households will increase to 30.2% of the population.
  • Then, once we add single-parent families to the equation, the size of the solo traveller market is even more significant.

Many ads for tours and cruises could make any tentative solo traveller feel like a misfit, albeit, it’s unintentional.  Just think about some of the European river cruising ads on TV right now, isn’t it always images of happy, mature couples? It’s much the same when it comes to the ads for some of the big tour operators, attracting the over 40’s traveller; lots of happy couples but where are the solo travellers in these ads? So, why is it that some of the big cruise and tour companies seem to be ignoring the solo traveller when it comes to their advertising campaigns?  Is it just tradition that’s the root of the problem and these companies have ignored the shift towards the growing size of the solo traveller market?

On the upside, there are companies in more recent times that don’t ignore the solo traveller, inviting them to join them, making a point of it on their websites and promotional material. I’m a fan of G Adventures and for active solo travellers, World Expeditions.

And, of course, there’s always Encounter Travel, just for solo travellers.

Solo travellers are no longer a minority. If you are one, and not inclined to ‘go it alone’, join a tour group…… there’s always someone you can turn to and say: ‘how amazing is that’, and share the experience. It’s a case of doing your research and finding those travel companies that are attracting other like-minded solo travellers.


The author, Justine Waddington is the founder & owner of Encounter Travel, an Australian company that exclusively creates resort, cruise and tour groups for solo travellers.

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Important: The book, The Solo Traveller's Compass includes information, advice and opinions which are general in nature and can only serve as a guide. Readers should consider their individual circumstances and do their own research for their travel destinations. All travellers should be aware that even if well informed, your personal safety cannot be guaranteed when you travel..

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