Now that Covid has finally been controlled and more countries are feeling the impetus to reopen for tourism, international travel is back with a vengeance. Passenger numbers for 2022 already (far) exceed the the last two years, and amid the surge, some pretty interesting travel trends are emerging: the growing fascination with solo travel is one of them.
The darkest days of Covid may be already behind us, but judging by the latest stats on remote work, quite a few of those pandemic-era ‘temporary’ adjustments may be permanent. As it is an essential part of life, travel is reflecting those changes in behavior, and we may continue witnessing the revival of once-dormant tendencies.
Why, then, is solo travel set set for global dominance in the months to come?
The World Has Changed Forever – International Travel Too
While solo traveling has been around for years, being the central concept around which a whole global community of travelers revolves, it was not until recently that it truly gained momentum. More specifically, until the pandemic hit, social restrictions directing affecting daily life were introduced, and our lives turned upside down completely.
Long daily commutes became a thing of the past, relationships moved online, and our whole perception of routine, including work, changed all of a sudden. We were forced to spend a lot more time with ourselves, especially those who are single and/or living alone in big cities, and not able to access a support system that easily.
Being forced to spend a prolonged ‘alone time’ can be particularly challenging, especially when lockdowns and social curbs are in place, but it also promotes self-knowledge and has the power to drastically alter one’s perception of ‘quality time’. After all, we don’t need to be around our friends, family, or loved ones all the time to fully enjoy ourselves.
And that includes travel.
The Solo Travel Is Reflecting The New Post-Covid Traveler Profile
As assessed by Solo Traveler World, a website specializing in the category, 77% of people travel alone because they want to ‘see the world’ and not ‘wait for others’. Additionally, they want to do what they want, when they want, are generally interested in meeting new people and ‘personal growth’, and like being ‘free’ and ‘independent’.
For many, though, traveling solo is a huge step to take: especially when it comes to foreign destinations, there is anxiety involved in boarding a plane all alone, jetting off to a whole new country where you don’t speak the local language, or understand local customs, and the old social stigma making you think of yourself as a ‘loner’.
Anxiety is OK, and in fact, it is expected when we’re talking international travel. No matter how well you plan it, there is always something bound to go wrong, whether it’s delayed flights or the annoying tourist scams. But that’s still all part of the experience, and it’s the highs and lows that help you grow as an independent traveler.
As for ‘loner’ part, it could not be further from the truth: traveling with partners and/or friends can be fun, and that’s certainly when some of the best memories are created. Traveling solo, however, can be just as exciting: there is nothing better than landing in another city, one you’ve never been to before, and realizing it is yours to be discovered.
Traveling Alone Is An Act Of Self Love
Solo travel is empowering and will make you see the world in a way you wouldn’t, had you been accompanied by a group. It is, pure and simple, an act of self love. Nevertheless, there are many different solo traveler profiles, and we should not make the mistake of looking at those participating in the solo travel surge as a homogeneous bunch.
Some people are simply looking for new ‘first times’ when embarking on a trip by themselves, and new offers like Oceania Cruises’ can provide just that. These travelers have more comfortable in booking independent vacations lately, and are eager to see the world after being confined to their room for two insufferable years.
On the other hand, there are those who joined a more niche traveler community, that is still attracting millions of devotees worldwide: the Digital Nomad Way of Life. These are travelers who earn a living through remote work as they travel the globe. Needless to say that, in the wake of the Covid crisis, this an incredibly appealing prospect.
Are Digital Nomads Driving The Solo Travel Surge?
Digital nomads can usually be found in the nearest cafe or co-working space, and they’re not interested in ticking as many countries off the bucket list in the shortest span of time possible. They’re slow-paced travelers, and generally have a preference for exploring new countries thoroughly while working in more scenic/relaxing settings.
A number of nations have acknowledged the inestimable impact these nomads have on their local economies, and have rolled out a specific residence permit, titled the Digital Nomad Visa, allowing them to stay longer as opposed to moving country time and again due to restrictive tourist visa rules.
Some places like Bali even allow nomads to live there for up to five years without paying any form of local tax. Select countries in Europe, a continent known for its strict laws on immigration and taxing, have jumped on the bandwagon and opened the doors to Digital Nomads under more flexible entry regimes, such as Croatia, Italy and Malta.
In total, 45 countries have introduced some form of Digital Nomad Visa, after the number of remote workers increased by a further 15% in 2021. According to other recent statistics, there are 6 million more Digital Nomads in the US now compared to the pre-pandemic age (11 million in total), and the worldwide figure has already hit 35 million.
It is estimated that 36% of Digital Nomads use house rental platforms like AirBnB, and while the exact percentage may vary depending on the study, the platform itself has confirmed reservations made by solo travelers now comprise 26% of total bookings. More importantly, more than half of all long-term stays were fulfilled by solo travelers.
You get our point: exploring solo has never been trendier than it is now across all age groups and socio-economic segments. The question is: is it the right move for you?
Everyone Should Travel Alone At Least Once In Their Lifetime
We are strong believers that everyone should take at least one grand trip, by themselves, to try and get out of their comfort zones and see the world through their own unique perspective; not having someone they know to lean on when meeting challenges along the way, and finding out what makes them thrilled the most about traveling.
At the same time, we understand some individuals may not be prepared to tap into their more adventurous side right now. A couple of years living in a gloomy reality can leave you scarred, and now that it’s all over, spending time with loved ones, and sharing the joys of traveling together again may sound like the right thing to do. And that’s totally fine too.
Solo travel isn’t going anywhere, and all these incredible new features designed especially for lone adventurers will still be here when you decide to give it a whirl. For now, irrespective of what’s your style of travel, just make sure you head out there now that the Big C has finally been defeated, and create some amazing memories – some of your own.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories