She surmises that the growth may be at least in part fueled by travelers eager to get out of town after spending nearly two years adventure-starved by the pandemic — so eager, they don’t care if they can’t find a friend or family member to join them. “We have people calling saying, ‘Where can I go now? I want to go next week!’ ” says Robin Brooks, director of marketing at Exodus Travels, whose customers’ average age is 65 and of whom 67 percent are traveling solo. The company’s trips to Italy, Portugal and Costa Rica are booking up particularly fast.
Brooks also points to the fact that tour companies will stay on top of the complicated COVID-19-related rules around the world, so their customers don’t have to — a big advantage for people who aren’t keen on trying to navigate evolving testing and vaccine requirements on their own. “Everyone wants a lot more hand-holding now,” she says.
Peggy Reynolds, 62, of Long Island agrees: She went alone on a group trip to Iceland in May with EF Go Ahead Tours, after getting vaccinated for COVID-19, because family members she would usually have traveled with were either not vaccinated or still hesitant to travel. She says it was the best travel experience she’s ever had — not only because she met some wonderful people, but “it was great having everything planned … I could really sit back and enjoy myself.”
Upcoming Trips for Solo Travelers
Prices do not include airfare.
Explore Machu Picchu (8 days)
Departs: Jan. 8, 2022
Starting cost: $2,099
Snow-capped mountains, sprawling citadels, cliffside terraces — see the landscapes of Peru on this guided tour departing from Lima. You’ll uncover the secrets of the Sacred Valley, including Incan ruins and salt pools, and wander ancient towns like Urubamba, where you’ll sample pachamanca, a traditional dinner cooked in a stone oven. And that’s just your second day. The highlight, of course, is the 15th-century Machu Picchu, glorious in the morning mist surrounded by the Andes.
Sicily for Solo Travelers (8 days)
Departs: Feb. 12, 2022
Starting cost: $2,209
The joys of Sicilian life are the focus on this tour exclusively for solo travelers. Marvel at cathedrals, piazzas, palaces and a Greek amphitheater with views of Mount Etna. You’ll also immerse yourself in Sicily’s famous food culture and learn to shop, cook and dine like a local, sampling wines, gourmet desserts and stuffed arancini. You can extend the eight-day tour with three days in Rome.
Japan’s Cultural Treasures (two weeks)
Departs: March 5, 2022
Starting cost: $3,695
This small-group trip explores the breadth of Japanese culture in two immersive weeks. Hear taiko drums, watch sumo, sip matcha and learn ancient arts like ikebana (flower arranging). You’ll meet the people, too, including a monk who will teach you Zen meditation. The trip includes plenty of free time, particularly in the evenings for those wanting to sample the nightlife or soak in the hot springs of Mount Fuji’s foothills. Bonus: No single supplement.
The Great Smokies: Trains, Cherokee and Appalachian Culture (6 Days)
Departs: April 10, 2022
Starting cost: $1,549
Road Scholar’s ride through Appalachia features local experts to enrich your understanding of the places and people you’ll encounter. Learn about Cherokee legends as you listen to music played on the Native American drum, flute and rattle. Tour a Civil War battlefield with a historian. Travel by train through the Great Smoky Mountains and meet a conductor who shows you how vintage locomotives are restored. Other itinerary favorites: the underground Ruby Falls, bluegrass performances and Rock City.