I recently came across an article called "Tips for Retirees Who Want to Travel Solo" in the Wall Street Journal. Since it brought up some interesting topics and because it's behind a paywall, I thought I'd summarize some of the highlights
Étretat in France is a great place to explore alone or with others
The solo traveler market
The article suggests that solo vacationing accounts for 18% of on line global bookings. That's a lot - for our own bookings it's probably closer to 10%. Still, a significant amount of people travel by themselves. Different markets attract different types of travelers. For example, AmaWaterways, our favorite river cruise company has certain cabins that are designated as "single' only. This is noteworthy in a couple of ways. First, the solo traveler won't pay a single supplement surcharge. Second, it means they are trying to attract the solo market which means other accommodations. As an example, on certain ships some of their tables in the restaurant have an odd number of place settings and chairs.
Solo vs solitary
The article points out that many people that travel to a destination alone end up spending a lot of time with others. They might be part of a wine group or photography group for example. I know when we offer our Beer themed trips, there's lots of single travelers because they know there will be lots of people to hang out with. Our groups are very collegial with tours and dining arrangements that very accommodative of singles. So even though you travel solo, you won't necessarily be solitary.
Solo vs Single
Just because you're not single (ie: coupled or married) doesn't mean you don't travel solo. The article points to husband and wives that take different vacations because of different interests. We don't see a lot of this in our business, but we certainly know some people that do this. Many times, a bunch of wives will travel together while the husbands are off on a golf vacation for example. I'm not sure I'd call that solo travel though. Still, the point is that you don't need to be single to travel solo.
Worth the Challenges
There's some challenges when traveling alone. There's safety risks, added costs (single supplements), someone else to help make decisions (like what to do when you're about to miss your connection) or even loneliness. The article points out some benefits that overcome these challenges such as only doing the things you really want to do instead of compromising. Lingering at a shop or art museum and not worrying about holding someone else up is one such benifit.
Photo courtesy AmaWaterways
The article lists some solo travel resources. But really the key is to match your interests with appropriate suppliers. As mentioned above, river cruises on AmaWaterways is a great way to travel solo. But it depends what you want to get out of the vacation. For some, siting on a beach on a Caribbean Island, alone, reading a book all week is perfect. Certain resorts are good for this - others are couples only. And don't under estimate the impact of single supplements either. You need a way to screen out options that minimize the single supplements. An experienced travel agent or advisor can help you determine your best fit.