May 30, 2023


Just Do Travel

Solo Travelers Choosing Group Tours During Pandemic

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. Note that most trips below have more departure dates than the one listed.

Explore Machu Picchu (8 days)

G Adventures

Departs: May 14, 2022

Starting cost: $2,999

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)

EF Go Ahead Tours

Departs: Sept. 3, 2022

Starting cost: $2,809

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)

Overseas Adventure Travel

Departs: Aug. 15, 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)

Road Scholar

Departs: Sept. 11, 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.

Portland to San Francisco Discovery (6 days)

Intrepid Travel  

Departs: July 8, 2022

Starting cost: $1,913 – $2,250

You’ll get loads of natural beauty and delicious food on Intrepid’s new small-group (12 travelers max) trip through the Northwest. It will include exploring the fantastic culinary scenes in Portland and San Francisco, plus unique experiences like shucking oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co., and enjoying a fresh-salmon picnic lunch with the First Nations people of Warm Springs. You’ll also visit Crater Lake National Park and see the spectacular redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument. The physical rating is “comfort,” so it will involve some walking, kayaking and biking, but no strenuous activities.