During the pandemic, no one told me not to travel alone.
In particular, don’t learn snowboarding, a sport that is not covered by all travel insurance. I couldn’t help but want to go to a country where I can’t speak a language.
I was told that administrative issues such as Covid tests, immunity passes, and health checks are painful for those traveling alone. Snowboarding abroad can lead to Covid infections and injuries.
That makes sense, but no one knew who could go with me. So I joined a Singapore tour group to South Korea.
I didn’t know when I booked the trip, but as the tourism industry re-entered, it was part of the trend for women traveling alone on group tours.
EU Holidays, a Singapore-based agency I traveled with, said more individual travelers have been on the trip since resuming international tours in September.
According to Wong Yew Hoong, director of EU Holidays, the numbers are small, but there is a noticeable increase.
Before the pandemic, he told CNBC Travel that solo travelers rarely take tours “usually because they plan and travel on their own.” Now they are, and most solo travelers are women, he said.
In other parts of the world, this trend began before the pandemic.
According to Canada-based travel agency G Adventures, individual travelers make up 51% of bookings this year, 70% of whom are women, a slight increase from 2019.
According to Melissa da Silva, North American President of TTC Tour Brands, Travel Corporation’s tour division, the trend of solo travel has grown exponentially over the last four years. TTC owns travel agencies such as Trafalgar and Contiki.
“The pandemic has certainly stimulated further interest,” she told CNBC, allowing the TTC tour brand to make more single rooms available, reducing or exempting single travelers from additional charges to meet the demands of solo travelers. I added that I did.
The SoFe Traveler Network, which organizes tours for one female traveler, said bookings reached about 60% of pre-pandemic levels.
Bruce Poon Tip, owner of Just You, a solo travel specialist who organizes adult-only tours, said that even married people are traveling alone because they have different interests from their spouse.
Pandemic made people More determined to check their “bucket list” destinations, Tip, who also founded G Adventures, said.
“”[But] Couples don’t necessarily have the same list, so they travel separately. “
according to Just You WebsiteWomen usually make up about three-quarters of travelers in solo travel groups.
Solo travel is usually associated with flexibility and group tours are considered rigorous. So why would a woman traveling alone register for this style of travel?
In my case, I wasn’t alone, either by choice or because I wanted more freedom. I spent weeks looking for friends who would agree to come with me.
According to G Adventures tips, those who are currently traveling are “early adopters”, but their friends may not have the same desire for risk. That was also true for me — many of my friends said they were still worried about Covid.
However, it was also difficult to find someone whose goals and schedule matched mine. I realized that even if Covid subsided next year, I might lose my travel companions. It was a better time than any other time.
Da Silva of TTC Tour Brands said the pandemic was strengthened as a “don’t wait” attitude that many single tourists have.
“Don’t wait for your travel companions to want to go to the same destination at the same time. Don’t wait for the” bucket list “to be checked. Don’t wait-nothing is promised. “
I didn’t want to wait, but I didn’t want to navigate the pandemic trip alone. So I took a tour.
CNBC’s Abigail Ng (sixth from left) took a small group tour from Singapore to South Korea in March 2022.
Courtesy of Seanko
Megan Arzbaecher, Tour Manager at SoFeTravel, said border restrictions, Covid tests, and flight cancellations made it difficult for solo travelers to plan their own trips.
“Travel confidence has dropped dramatically, and until it recovers, taking a solo group tour overcomes all the changing limits and eliminates all mysteries and worries.” She said.
Nicole Rim of Singapore will be taking her first solo group tour in May. She said her safety was a major consideration.
She wanted to go hiking, but felt that hiking alone could be dangerous.
“I’ve been in Singapore for a long time, so I don’t hike or camp a lot. I think it’s better to find a guide and join the group so we can help each other,” she said. Says. ..
Before the pandemic, she said she probably asked her friend to join her. But after spending two years without her trip, she didn’t want her plans to be determined by whether or not she would go with someone.
“If so, I would delay travel and planning according to someone else’s schedule, not my trip,” she told CNBC.
After living a pandemic for more than two years, some travelers go alone because they don’t want to depend on someone else’s schedule.
Michael Duva | Stone | Getty Images
Given that travelers may need medical care or get stuck abroad, Covid adds another dimension to safety concerns.
“Travel agencies can take care of you to help you change [flight] We will receive the ticket and make some arrangements for you, “said Wong of EU Holidays.
Da Silva of the TTC Tour says that the majority of women traveling independently still want a social experience.
New Yorker Allison Allerle, who runs an education company, took a group tour for the first time as a solo trip about 10 years ago when no one could travel with him.
“I think it’s a great social experience. You can literally meet people from all over the world,” she told CNBC.
She has even traveled with a friend she first met on a guided tour. “Participating in these trips, I made friends. [my] The rest of my life’s friends, “she said.
New Yorker Allison Aller said he prefers tour groups because it’s easier to make friends than traveling alone.
Courtesy of Allison Arrell
Still, joining a tour group alone can be daunting. Before I went to Korea, I decided to make friends and prepared to eat alone.
After all, traveling with someone you just met is not the same as traveling with family and friends.
Lim, a Singaporean who applied for a hike in Bali in May, said, “I’m a little afraid that if I don’t know someone personally, no one really cares.”
But between the two options, between being at home and being alone in Bali if you need help, Lim said he would choose the latter.
“I shouldn’t have anyone,” she said.