With just under two weeks until Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer, travel and vacation planning is beginning to heat up alongside the temperature. One potential trend to watch for this year’s travel season? Solo travel. Early indications from the travel and tourism industry point to a potentially big year for solo traveling.
But, just how many Americans have solo trips in their upcoming travel plans?
According to the latest CivicScience data, 54% of Americans have leisure travel already planned within the next year. Two-thirds of those will be traveling with someone else, while more than one-third (34%) say they’ll be traveling solo for their trip.
With 73% of U.S. adults feeling at least ‘somewhat comfortable’ with traveling alone, there is potential for growth in solo travel plans in the months ahead. However, this sentiment is predominantly driven by men, as 81% of men feel ‘somewhat comfortable’ compared to 64% of women. Despite this, the gap in actual intent is not as significant, with 22% of men and 17% of women having solo travel plans this year.
Leisure travel is particularly meaningful for solo travelers.
What motivates people to travel by themselves? A key factor appears to be how much they value traveling for pleasure. Those with plans to travel solo in the next 12 months are much more likely to say traveling for pleasure is important or a passion compared to those traveling with others. Fifty-seven percent of solo travel intenders feel this way, 12 percentage points higher than those who are planning to travel with others and more than three times that of people with no intention to travel this year.
Solo travel isn’t the only travel trend gaining traction – international travel is poised to fly high.
Ongoing CivicScience tracking of where Americans plan to travel each summer reveals an interesting picture. Domestic travel is still by far the most popular. However, plans for domestic summer travel, whether it be within their region or outside of it, have declined overall since June 2021. On the other hand, international summer travel has increased by six percentage points year-over-year to 16%.
Data from the National Travel and Tourism Office further illustrate this growth of international travel as Americans traveling abroad have spent a record $17.4 billion in February and March.
The World Health Organization recently declared an end to the global health emergency for COVID-19, and the United States has lifted its COVID-19 vaccination requirements for foreign visitors. These developments highlight the improving situation of the pandemic and may be a contributing factor to the push toward more international travel.
Don’t forget to pack these additional travel insights:
- At 81%, adults aged 35-54 are the most likely age group to feel comfortable traveling solo but only 17% have any solo travel planned so far this year. Gen Z adults show the least level of comfort with solo travel at 64% though nearly a quarter have solo travel planned.
- A majority of respondents (76%) who plan to travel solo in the next 12 months are willing to travel outside of their home state, with almost half (48%) of solo travelers planning to travel out of their region and 20% planning international travel (n=2,149).
- Unprecedented demand for passports has led to processing delays at the State Department. Among those with passports, just over 1-in-10 (11%) have had to postpone or cancel their travel plans as a result of these passport processing delays. This percentage is likely to rise as we enter peak travel season (n=1,554).
As the pandemic’s emergency phase appears to be in the rearview mirror, avenues for travel are re-opening. Solo travel is gaining a foothold, and traveling abroad is on the way toward a pandemic recovery. It will be essential for the travel industry to monitor both trends as we enter the summer travel season.
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