Article Highlights:

  • Solo travel is rapidly increasing: 54% of travelers are considering at least one solo trip in 2024. The fear of missing out (FOMO) on travel experiences is a major driver of this trend, with people feeling compelled to seize opportunities without waiting for others.
  • Confident alone: People are taking time for themselves to recharge, with 71% of U.S. survey respondents citing solo travel as important for their mental health wellness. The pandemic’s enforced isolation has also made people more confident about spending time alone and more eager to travel independently.
  • Demographics and safety: Solo travel is popular across age groups, with young adults, older adults, and divorcees all increasingly traveling alone. While safety is a consideration, especially for women, research, technology, and common-sense precautions can mitigate risks. Experienced solo travelers recommend researching destinations, packing light, and staying connected with loved ones about their itineraries.


A woman wearing a backpack observes a beige temple in India.
Visiting the Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah, Agra, India.


Solo traveling is no longer a niche sector, it’s growing fast. According to Global Rescue’s survey of the world’s most experienced travelers, the percentage of solo travelers has more than tripled in the past 12 months. In the spring of 2023, only nine percent of women and 12% of men planned any solo trips. A year later those percentages skyrocketed to 37% for men and 32% for women.

A report by Skyscanner revealed that the statistics are even higher: 54% of travelers are considering at least one solo trip in 2024. A driving force behind the solo travel increase, according to the Global Rescue survey, is that people are taking time for themselves to recharge. Seven-out-of-ten (71%) of U.S. respondents cited a solo travel trip being important for their mental health wellness.


[Related Reading: How Travelers Are Embracing Bold Exploration in 2024]


Another factor fueling the independent travel trend may be an after-effect of the pandemic’s enforced isolation, which emboldened a YOLO (You Only Live Once) or FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) attitude in people, rendering them more confident than ever about spending time in solitude, according to a report in the Week.

“Solo travel is absolutely returning,” said Beth Santos, founder and CEO of Wanderful, a global community and lifestyle brand. “I think the pent-up desire to travel is overriding the need to go with a travel partner. People aren’t waiting for their travel partners; they’re just going.”

That’s a sentiment echoed in a report in Forbes. “Post-pandemic, many travelers didn’t want to waste any time. They decided if no one wanted to travel with them, they’d go alone. That’s continuing to have a big impact.”

Global Rescue member Dianette Wells reflected on why she travels solo 90% of the time – something the 56-year-old adventure-chasing endurance athlete and world traveler has been doing since she was 18 when a college friend suddenly bailed on their Austria skiing vacation.

“I had gotten my first passport and already invested the money,” said the longtime Global Rescue member. “So, I went anyway — alone, and I’m so glad I did. I learned early it’s not worth it to give up on these amazing travel experiences just because you think you need someone to go with you.”


A man walks alone on a cold beach in Iceland with snow-capped mountains in the background.
Even Iceland has its beaches.

Solo Travel Demographics

According to Red Solo Traveler, a key driver of increased solo travel is coming from young adults. According to the BBC, younger people are fueling this trend, with solo travel searches up double from five years ago. An Allianz survey in July of 2023 confirmed 42% of Americans ages 18-34 would be solo traveling in 2024.

But it’s not only younger travelers embarking on solo travel. Older adults don’t hesitate to travel alone, either. A recent survey by the travel organization Road Scholar, a leader in educational travel for older adults, released a report that 20-30% of the company’s 80,000-100,000 travelers each year choose solo travel, and many are 65 and older. In AARP’s 2023 Travel Trends report, 12% of international trips in 2023 among international travelers ages 50-plus were solo trips.

Another group of solo travelers are divorcees. According to a report by Skyscanner, 78% of divorced adults ranked some of the highest in their readiness to embark on a solo vacation with 56% beach-bound for “me time” and 40% planning a sporting adventure trip.

And it’s not just single people traveling solo. Some are happily married yet choose to travel alone based on different interests. The Road Scholar survey revealed that at least 60% of solo travelers were married but traveling without their spouse. Four-out-of-10 women surveyed by the travel organization said their spouse isn’t interested in traveling, while a nearly equal percentage said they have different interests than their spouse when it comes to travel.


A woman with a backpack stands in a green field and closes her eyes.
Solo travel is easier, and more important, than ever.

Solo Travel Risks?

While the benefits of traveling solo as a woman include everything from building confidence to connectivity, there’s still concern this type of travel is too risky. But that risk is being mitigated.

“Any type of travel can be risky. But, if you do your research, follow customs, and take the proper travel safety measures, you can bring down the risk level,” said Global Rescue member Amanda Burrill, a former Navy lieutenant turned global adventurer, travel writer and food connoisseur.

Technology has made solo travel easier, according to University of Florida tourism professor Heather Gibson, who began researching solo women travel in 1998. “When we first started our solo women research back in the late 1990s, there weren’t widespread mobile phones. And so, one of the things that many of the women spoke to us about was fleeting loneliness, for example, or needing to find a way to share their experiences back home,” said Gibson in an interview with PBS. Today, smartphones mean communications, maps, GPS, booking accommodations and social media, all at travelers’ fingertips.

More and more women feel the same way, too. While all forms of travel obviously came to a standstill in 2020, prior to the pandemic, the stats had been showing solo female travel was on the rise. Now, as travel has fully rebounded and grown past pre-pandemic levels, solo travel is one of the strongest growth segments.


[Related Reading: Solo or Not: Fears and Opportunities Abound for Traveling Women]


Researching the destination before travel is one of the first things any traveler should do to assess the level of safety and familiarize yourself with customs and traditions. While that can include any number of resources – from simple internet searches and travel blog reading to consulting Global Rescue destination reports (non-members have access to one free report – it’s also a good idea to tap into other travelers who’ve recently been to the destinations you’re considering.

If you have zero travel experience, then journeying across international borders shouldn’t be your first solo trip. “Start with a place in your home country you’ve always wanted to see – maybe it’s a city, a national park, a landmark – and ease yourself in,” suggested Wells.

Burrill also suggests enlisting the use of a travel agent or meeting with a group of other solo travelers during part of your trip. “That can take off some of the first-timer anxiety because you’re not alone.”

While Wells, Santos and Burrill suggest packing your itinerary loosely so it leaves room for spontaneity – one of the best parts of solo trips – one thing they don’t like to leave to chance is where they’re sleeping at night.

“I always have my hotels booked each night, especially if I’m traveling in high season,” said Wells.

Santos agrees. “It’s important that someone always knows, at some point during the day, where you physically are. Before you go, always provide a loved one with a listing of your accommodations and the nights you’ll be at each.”

“Every traveler should practice their situational awareness skills by getting familiar with their surroundings, establishing a baseline of activity for your area, paying attention to people’s attire, body language, behavior and more,” said Harding Bush, associate director of security operations at Global Rescue.

Packing light means better maneuverability through crowded spots, less time tracking gear and the ability to make last-minute plans without worrying about what to do with your stuff.

“In the early days, I made the mistake of traveling with a heavy piece of luggage and the handle broke,” said Burrill. “Since then, one of the things I’ve perfected is packing light and having high-quality travel items, like clothing with extra pockets or a suitcase that glides effortlessly.” Again, if you’re struggling with luggage, it can make you look like an easy target.

Or ditch the baggage altogether when you can. If Burrill has time to do some sightseeing around a city before a flight, she happily asks her hotel to hold onto her bag (they’re usually accommodating even after you’ve checked out) or she stows it at the airport (some do still maintain lockers, but usually the lost luggage counter can accommodate for a fee). Santos suggests checking out services like LuggageHero, which is like Airbnb for bags, offering storage in vetted public venues (think retail outlets, hotels, cafes, and more) in 40 major cities across the US and Europe. Luggage Forward, a Global Rescue Safe Travel Partner, also allows you to ship luggage ahead instead of checking bags, enabling you to streamline your trip.


Kiteboarding in South Africa
Kiteboarding in South Africa.

Be Open to Others, But Retain Privacy

You shouldn’t be afraid to talk to locals because that’s how you get the best insider travel tips and to-dos. “More often than not, these locals are so proud of their countries and want to show them off,” said Wells. “These are the folks with the best tips and the best restaurants and the best sights to see. They never steer me wrong.”

But she stresses using your common sense: Don’t reveal you’re traveling alone. “You can throw in the term ‘we’ as you are chatting — ‘we’re thinking about going here,’ ‘we tried this,’” said Wells.

“It might be my military mindset, but when I talk to people, I make very direct eye contact, and I sound confident,” said Burrill. “I also never divulge too much, like where I’m going next or where I’m staying.”


A bearded man in cycling clothes loads his bike in a forest during a bikepacking trip.
Solo bikepacking adventures in Poland.

YOLO Triggers Solo Travel

Call it YOLO travel or FOMO travel, the idea of seizing the moment and exploring new places without waiting for companions aligns with an increase in solo travel experiences, which are often spontaneous, adventurous trips. The surge in solo travel is largely attributed to the pandemic, and the stay-at-home, work-from-anywhere arrangements it created. With people feeling more comfortable with the idea of traveling alone, seeking personal space, and avoiding crowded places, solo travel has become a popular choice for many.