Seventy-four year-old travel writer Paul Theroux recently observed that ‘The greatest advantage to being an older traveller is being invisible, unregarded, ignored. This allows one to eavesdrop and to see much more of a place or a people.” Whether Australia’s mature-aged travellers share this view is debatable, but one thing is for sure: not only has the number of older Australians taking holidays risen since 2007, but a growing proportion of them are going it alone.
In the 12 months to June 2015, 5,355,000 Australians aged 50+ took at least one holiday, up from 4,464,000 in the year to June 2007. The proportion of those who travelled alone on their last trip rose from 15.4% to 16.3%. This increase is evident among the 50-64, 65-74 and 75-79 age groups, with the 80+ age group remaining stable.
Over the same period, the number of holidaying Aussies aged under-50 also rose, but not nearly to the same extent (from 6,386,000 to 6,738,000). However, only the 25-34 year-old age group showed any increase in solo travel.
Solo travel by age: 2007 vs 2015
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2006 – June 2007 (n=10,276); July 2014 – June 2015 (n=11,403). Base: Australians 14+ who went on a trip and named their travelling party
When asked what activities they did on their last trip, solo travellers from the 50-plus group were more likely than their younger counterparts to report having visited museums, art galleries, gardens or parks and historical places, but less likely to have gone shopping or attended a concert.
While the two groups are equally likely to prefer a holiday ‘where I can see nature or be in a natural setting’, and to enjoy taking holidays within Australia, older solo travellers are considerably less likely to agree that ‘I like to go away on weekends’, ‘I prefer the bright lights and big cities when I travel’ or ‘I enjoy holidays where everything is organised for you.’