Silver Solos: 60- and 70-year-old Travelers Embark on Adventures.
Joing is alone in elegance. Solo travel is on the rise this year, with many travelers who spent the pandemic locked up in family homes or family homes — or even relationships that later ended — inspired to travel alone. Adventure tour operator Wild Frontiers reports that traffic to its single travel page on its website rose 30 percent in 2022 compared to last year, rising above pre-Covid levels.
“There is a new need to seize the post-Covid moment, and people are leaving nothing to stop them from taking this dream trip, even traveling alone,” said Johnny Pilby, founder of Wild Frontiers. independent.
One of the interesting parts of the solo travel package is the “silver solo” – travelers within or approaching retirement age who feel able to escape without a travel companion.
This trend appears to have grown since the depths of the pandemic as well. Intrepid Travel told us that half of bookings in the UK this year were from customers over 50, compared to a third in 2019. More than half of those bookings are solo travelers, and of those, 60 per cent are female. Meanwhile, river cruise specialists Uniworld saw a 43 percent rise in solo travelers over 55 this year, compared to 2019.
“Over the past nine months, we’ve seen a rise in bookings from the market over the 50s,” says Erica Kritikides, global product manager for Intrepid Travel. “I think a lot of that growth is driven by the new premium range and we’re seeing a huge revival of individual travellers.”
Launched last year, Intrepid’s new premium tour group, which has traditionally been backpacker tours, local bus rides, expanded to a total of 55 itineraries in 2022. These trips go to remote locations similar to their current range, but groups can spend more time At every station, sleep in comfortable four-star accommodation, and enjoy first-class train connections. That doesn’t mean they’re tamed: The range includes an eco-lodge trip through the Amazon rainforest and India’s Ganges cruise, as well as a 10-day itinerary in New Zealand and a two-week trip to India. It’s partially inspired by silver solos.
“It’s a time in your life when you’re almost getting that new freedom,” Erica says. “You may have kids who are grown up, you may be retired. You have more time to do this kind of thing, but most importantly you have time to think about what you really want to accomplish.”
Andrew Lugarn, 71, began traveling solo in 2015, right after he retired. He is happily married to his wife, who he says prefers more relaxed beach and sightseeing holidays, and found himself drawn to more adventurous destinations, decided to go it alone. Like many solo travelers in his age group, he opts for small group tours to unfamiliar places like Ethiopia and Jordan. Now he spends two vacations a year with his wife, but keeps the real Michael Palin stuff for solo flights.
“I’ve always been interested in traveling, watching flight shows on TV, etc., and I’ve fancied going beyond European cities and beaches,” he explains. “I looked for places I knew my wife was less annoyed about – like many people, you don’t necessarily want to camp in tribal settlements or deserts.”
To choose his destination, Andrew goes to tour operators such as Wild Frontiers and Explore to discover their most unusual or unusual itineraries. And part of the fun, he says, is getting to know completely new people from scratch. “I was very fascinated by the chemistry of the group,” he says.
“You don’t have any history or baggage; you can tell someone you’re a nuclear scientist or an astronaut and they won’t know any better. It’s a bit like university on day one. You have to start over,” he explains.
Another aspect Andrew loves is the challenge of being ambitious or active touring. He remembers the time he booked a bike tour of Jordan – even though he hadn’t been on a bike since he was 18. “I bought one three months before I was gone,” he laughs.
Jill Waterton, now 70, started traveling alone at the age of 56 and has traveled to Myanmar, China, India, Tibet, Vietnam, Zambia and more than 10 solo trips. She likes to join small group tours for about 12-20 people, which include either all solo travelers or a mix of solos and couples. In addition to her enduring fascination with far-reaching destinations, she was inspired to take off after a divorce.
“What sparked that was being on my own for the first time and realizing that family vacations weren’t going to happen. I wanted to do something for myself, to see a little bit of the world,” she says. “The first place I went to was Thailand, during Christmas and New Years – I’ve always wanted to go there since seeing me The king and me In the 1950s, and I didn’t want to worry about you being alone at that time of year.”
Finding out that she loves the freedom of traveling on her own as well as in the company of a small tour group, Jill begins researching tour operators who have made her own personal bucket list. “I’m just starting to get wilder – I went to South Africa, I’ve always wanted to go to India, Machu Picchu…I can do it in Nepal, Tibet.”
One remarkable assignment took Jill to Myanmar, China and Tibet, following in her father’s wartime footsteps – he was assigned to Asia as an RAF officer in 1942 and participated in the withdrawal from Myanmar, and then Burma. She looked at itineraries with Cox & Kings and Saga to shape her trip, and says she’s found the operators flexible in taking side trips or spending time alone to follow the right path.
She says she was surprised by the range of adventurous destinations offered by seniors such as Saga; The operator helped her plan a trip to Zambia to volunteer with a local organization. “They’re very good at categorizing their trips according to different mobility issues, and knowing what’s too much,” she adds.
Erica agrees that this is a key point for 60-plus solos. “The speed regulation is really important. The only thing we know that clients in that demographic don’t like is feeling too rushed,” she says. “They want to try something right. They want free time to explore.” To this end, Intrepid has begun offering longer itineraries, such as 15-day itineraries, along with shorter eight-day itineraries to certain destinations.
“After that, I want to walk along the Silk Road,” Andrew says. “Or to Guatemala – I haven’t been to Central America.” In the meantime, Jill is looking forward to a trip to Costa Rica to see sloths and cloud forests.
The tour operators clearly took note of the single silver medal. Yesterday, Saga Travel announced a major overhaul of its 50-plus year offering, including year-round tours, and a campaign to highlight its long-haul travels for those who might think of the operator as just a European short break specialist. Old-fashioned solos thinking of dipping your toe might try Friendship Tours, which organize a range of breaks — from short breaks in the British countryside to Nile cruises and alpine ski trips — and none of them include a solo supplement.
For those who may have been inspired by the golden background of curious individual retirees gathering in Best exotic Marigold hotel, Wild Frontiers put together a Golden Triangle tour inspired by the movie.
Cruise service providers also keep an eye on the individual market. Nigel Blanks, CEO of Saga Cruises, says: “Solo travel is so popular that when we designed our existing ships, we intentionally made sure that 20 per cent of the cabins were set aside and priced only for single passengers. And those single cabins are being cut out.
“It’s a very important group of customers that the industry as a whole has to do more for when it comes to designing travel experiences.”
Jill says she would recommend a small solo group tour to anyone curious but wary about traveling alone. “I’ve never felt lonely on any of these tours, the tour guides are there to help you mingle – and you’ll find someone in a group of 12 or so to treat,” she says. “There is a general etiquette that says that no one should be left outside.”
You’ve never felt insecure or overwhelmed in the small group setting either. “I got lost in the middle of the Forbidden City in Beijing, because I didn’t listen to instructions properly! But someone will always come and find you.”