“Just one?” (And other irritating things people say to solo travelers)

Solo travelers are increasing….anywhere from 37% to 54% depending on which sources you’re willing to trust. While the majority of the growth is coming from women, here’s a loud shout-out to those men willing to go solo, too.  It’s a travel industry trend that seems largely unnoticed or addressed by hotels, resorts, cruise ships and restaurants. For a number of reasons all sorts of people head out into the world on their own.

Independent travel is growing in popularity regardless of sex or age.

Solo travel has pros and cons. Usually it’s more expensive; the dreaded & archaic “single supplement” still exists. Sometimes it’s lonely. More often than not, though, I’ve found it to be freeing and simple. I go where I want. When I want. For as long as I want. When I travel with family or friends, I enjoy that, too.  In group travel, though, there are group decisions. On my own, it’s selfishly & unapologetically all about what I want to do. In my day to day, I try to be an easy-going, agreeable person. Solo travel allows me to be self-indulgent.

The majority of business travelers are solo, too, so this odd reaction to independents is curious to me. Everywhere I go, people seem amazed. “All by yourself?” they’ll say. Yes, I patiently answer. Then, I offer something polite and reassuring. Inside, however, I’m thinking “seriously?”. Expand your horizons people, even if you don’t want or choose to travel alone, the world is full of people who do.

In 2016, why is anyone surprised that individuals who want to see the world & can afford to travel are willing to go alone?

“Just one?” the host asked me tonight. A barrage of not-so-nice retorts flew through my head. Things like “just me & my imaginary friend”, “did you fail counting in kindergarten?” or “I’ve had dinner with far worse company”. Saying those things certainly wouldn’t have gotten me a window seat, so I zipped it.

Years ago, I read something on this subject by Sark, a writer and positive living advocate. She said she gently tells the host or hostess that the “just” implies she’s not enough on her own. She tells them that a better way to ask is to say “one for dinner?”. I agree fully. I wish she’d start traveling more and spreading the word. Ideally to places I’m about to go to.

My hope is that hotels, resorts, restaurants, etc. will treat single travelers more graciously. Ditch the single supplement, offer alternative specials for us (I don’t need breakfast for two) and train staff how to talk to independent travelers. If travel trends continue, we won’t be “just one”, but a huge collective of travel dollars. Let’s make them earn those dollars by upping their game.