Traveling is fun as well as a great way to explore new places, experience new cultures, meet new people and expand your horizons. We’d all agree that traveling with friends is amazing but think about all the plans that got cancelled because one of your friends couldn’t make it to the trip. Or visit the most mundane places because your travel buddy wanted to do so.
Traveling is indeed fun but when done on our own terms. And that’s why one needs to travel solo once. Not only does it offer you the best experiences of your life, but it also helps in the journey of your personal growth. Once it might not have been a go to option, but a large number of travelers these days opt for solo tours. It is no longer considered as a secondary option but people actually see it as a primary way of traveling.
A recent survey conducted by Oyo revealed that there has been a significant increase in the number of solo travelers in our country. There was a 133% increase in the number of bookings made by solo travelers in December 2018 when compared to bookings made in December 2017. And this significant increase is not limited to just make solo travelers. According to another survey conducted by the website TripAdvisor in 2015, 48% of women in Southeast Asia confirmed traveling solo in contrast to only 36% in 2014.
Solo Travel is the Future
Solo traveling is soon going to change the way people travel. Once you do it, you’d be amazed and awed by the sense of freedom it provides and the convenience and flexibility you can enjoy. However, we can’t ignore the baggage that accompanies solo traveling. After a few days, you start craving for a company to have fun and share your experiences with. This problem is bigger for shy people and introverts who aren’t that great in forming new connections. These are the problems which social media travel sites try to solve. But before we talk about these sites, let’s understand the social travel concept and why it’s even better than solo travel.
Social Travel and how it Works
Social travel implies connecting with like-minded travel enthusiasts and taking a trip with them. There are several social travel sites that can help you in finding the right travel partner. While solo traveling is about finding yourself, social traveling is a catalyst to solo traveling which supports in forming connections and long-lasting travel friendships. You don’t have to be an extrovert to do that. Social travel sites are there to help anyone who wants to find a travel buddy.
And social traveling is not exactly a fairly innovative concept for millennials. Unlike Baby Boomers, they are comfortable with using the internet to interact with strangers. As we already know, these days the internet is used for a wide variety of purposes including finding dates and love. So for millennials, using social travel sites is a common & interesting idea as they are less skeptical regarding strangers.
Solo or social travels have its own pros and cons. While solo travel allows you the freedom to plan a trip according to your own convenience, social travel just make sure that you stay safe & have the right information to take up a solo trip. You might have exciting adventures with total strangers leading to a long-lasting friendship.
Top Social Travel Sites
Couchsurfing – Use this site If you wish to travel the world on a low budget. It’s not always possible to live in the best hotels and eat the best food unless of course you are born into money. The major part of expense during any vacation constitutes of hotel stays but don’t worry as we have an app recommendation that could help you save money on them. Couchsurfing helps you find kind strangers all over the world that let you stay at their places for free. There is also a review section in these apps where other travelers share their experiences with the hosts and give suggestions.
Xoxo Tours – A free website that’s easy to navigate and designed for solo travelers so that they can meet and interact with other like-minded travelers before deciding to go on a trip with them. You can chat with them, travel with them and even find yourself, travel to girls, to go on a trip together.
Backpackr – When traveling solo, there comes a point where one craves for human company. You want to talk to people and share your experiences. Walking up to someone and just talking to them seems like a bad idea though. If you are such a solo traveler who wants to find other travelers in the area who want to explore places and do the same thing as you, Backpackr is the ideal choice for you. And you don’t have to actually be a backpacker to use this website, it is for every traveler.
Showaround – Showaround is a great website to meet locals all over the world. This website will help you experience the true beauty of a place and explore hidden gems via an insider’s or local’s perspective. Usually, when you travel to an unknown place, all the information you get is through the internet or other resources. And more often than not, maybe the best part of the city generally gets skipped. Unless you have someone who knows the place really well, your trip would remain incomplete. Showaround website is a great way to see places and do things that you wouldn’t while traveling solo. The website also connects you with travel guides whom you can hire if you want a more planned trip of the city you are visiting.
Flip the Trip – Flip the Trip is available in more than 4500 cities all over the world with about 19000 members. This website will connect you with other travelers and locals who are at the same place as you are. You can get in touch with them over dinner or a cup of coffee and have a great time. There is also an option for you to connect with future travel buddies when you are planning a trip.
Future of Solo Travel
Increase in the Number of Solo Travelers
Solo traveling is here to stay; there is no doubt about that. With time, more people are going to get comfortable with the idea of traveling alone and exploring places. This has already started to become a trend, with social media sites like Facebook and Instagram celebrating solo travelers & their journey. More people are interested to go solo and even women are traveling solo now, shattering the redundant patriarchal notions.
Millennials want to experience personalized and unique experiences while traveling. And this is possible via social traveling as you have the option to pair up with locals you meet on social travel sites. By connecting with a local, you may get an opportunity to stay at a local house, create new friendships and travel in a more real & authentic way. This is such a beautiful thing to do and will not only make your trip more memorable but also more fun & joyful.
Social travelers beget social travelers. And social media sites like Instagram and Twitter play a major role in that. When you post your travel pictures on these sites and share your travel experience with the world, other people get inspired too. They might have never thought of traveling alone, but seeing your pictures, they might realize it’s a possible thing to do. Many people have this cliched stereotyped image of solo travelers. They think it’s meant for singletons or hippies. But that view is also changing rapidly. People now understand that solo traveling has nothing to do with your relationship status or your job. The stigma surrounding it is breaking and that’s what is creating its popularity.
Social Travel Apps to Act as a Catalyst for Solo Travelers
You can connect and meet with locals belonging to the most remote places or off-beat travel destinations of the world with the help of social travel apps. In fact, a social travel app can make your solo trip more exciting and you can plan & execute your trip better. There are a number of social travel sites operating these days. Some apps allow you to interact and find a travel friend from any corner of the world who is as enthusiastic as you about traveling. Other such apps help you to find inexpensive lodging, provide you some requisite info like the language you need to know regarding a city you desire to visit or let you keep in touch with your friend/s, family or guardian back home while you explore the world.
Similarly, on a social travel app, you chat with a local or solo traveler and accordingly decide to travel with him or her or at least meet him or her for a while on your solo trip. They can help you in exploring the city in a more real way. You may not need a physical map of the city when you have a local traveling with you. Learning is a life-long process and social travel is one of the best ways to learn while having fun. Every time you travel, you pick up new skills or knowledge. There are so many things you can’t learn in schools and colleges but only with the first-hand experience. And what better way to do that than traveling solo.
The Tourism Industry is Taking Notice as Well
Over the past few years, more and more people have chosen to travel alone. Solo travel offers the opportunity to escape everyday life as well as certain freedom and independence. More people are single and remain so for longer periods of time than they used to be in decades past. As a result, people don’t want to give up their travel dreams for lack of a partner. The travel industry is noticing this recent increase in solo and introducing new schemes for them. However, it still hasn’t truly adapted to this idea. Some of the ways to cater to the interests of the growing solo traveler market are:
Offer Attractive Options – Many hotels have a single-occupancy surcharge, raising costs for people traveling alone. Resorts can charge for amenities people traveling alone may not use. Solo travel continues to increase and is usually booked in the off-season. It makes good business sense to treat them as valued guests in their own right and not penalizing them with extra fees. Offering group activities for solo travelers can also be an appealing amenity.
Wine tastings, bike outings, guided hikes, picnics, and boat rides are all opportunities that can be geared toward individual travelers rather than couples-focused. Creating packages for solo travelers on longer trips—like spa options for one and laundry services—can make a business very attractive compared to places that are geared toward groups and couples on a quick vacation.
Promote Safety, Especially Amongst Women Solo Travelers – Hotels, resorts and Airbnb owners who provide and promote safety will be more attractive to people—especially women—who are staying alone. Be open about performing background checks on all employees, and follow through with having those checks done. Offer door-to-door car service for airports and restaurants. Ensure the doors in all the rooms have a working chain or slide locks. Offer assistance with pre-planned activities and keep any lights and security systems in good working order.
Create a Community – People choosing to travel on their own still seek out interaction with other people. Meeting locals is part of the perks of traveling and providing places where guests can mingle can benefit businesses. Shifting away from the mindset that vacations are just for couples and families can be a boon to businesses looking to stay fully booked, especially in the off-season.
Attracting more solo travelers can offset any potential small losses from doing away with single-occupancy fees, and investing in communal spaces and security will make all guests happy, not just people traveling solo. Explore what your business offers and how you can optimize your appeal to these.