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The Rise Of The Solo Older Traveller

It’s debatable, but it’s an interesting point and it comes from a seasoned traveller:

74-year-old travel writer Paul Theroux said 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”.

Indeed, Theroux’s point may be shared by an increasing many, given a recent survey found that the number of mature-age Australian travellers has only risen 2007, with a growing proportion of them going alone.

In the year to June 2015, 5,355,000 Australians aged over 50 took at least one holiday, up from 4,464,000 in the year to June 2007.

The proportion of those who ventured out on their own for their last trip rose from 15.4 per cent to 16.3 per cent. This increase is evident among the 50-64, 65-74 and 75-79 age groups, with the over-80s age group remaining stable.

During the same period of time, the number of Australians under 50 travelling experienced a rise but to nowhere near the same extent.

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.’

Roy Morgan Research group account director Angela Smith said, “As our average life expectancy and the number of Aussies aged over 50 continue to rise, the fact that an increasing number of older folks are travelling makes perfect sense”.

“The growth in solo travel among this group is interesting, too, since above-average proportions of 50-64 year-olds and 65-74 year-olds are still married! However, once past 65, the proportion of widowed travellers also shoots up, which suggests that travelling alone is not always out of choice.”

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Alana Lowes

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