This year marks the centenary of women's suffrage in Britain and Poland, so it's quite fitting to learn that women over 50 are leading the boom in popularity for solo travel in the UK. Forget young backpackers, research has found that the average age of solo holidaymakers was 57 in 2017, compared with 54 in 2014.

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Women over 50 travelling solo is a huge growth area. Image: Westend61

Solo female travellers outnumbered males by almost two to one - 67% versus 37% -  in an analysis of 62,656 singles holidays taken in 2017. This research was conducted by online travel company, 101 Singles Holidays. It found that the number of people booking solo holidays rose by 14%, year on year, in 2017, and tour operators are predicting a further rise of 11% in 2018. The fastest growing destination for solo travellers was India, with tour operators crediting the TV series, The Real Marigold Hotel, with boosting bookings to there. This was followed by Italy, then Sri Lanka,  Overall, the most popular destination was Italy, followed by Greece, then Spain.

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Women over 50 are leading the boom in solo travel. Image: SolStock

"The stigma surrounding singles holidays has largely disappeared," says Cathy Winston, editor of 101 Singles Holidays. "The number of single people in the UK has risen steadily over the past 15 years, plus many people in a relationship are also choosing to travel solo – often to pursue a favourite pastime such as skiing, golf or yoga. The biggest growth area is in women over 50. In previous generations, this group might have been reluctant to travel alone, but single, divorced and widowed women are now more empowered, confident and financially independent than ever before. And they are being more adventurous, with Sri Lanka, India and Peru among the most popular destinations."

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Women travelling solo is a huge growth area. Image: Blend Images/PBNJ Productions/Getty Images

According to Cathy, the boom in singles holidays has been among the biggest trends in travel over the past few years, and this growth shows no signs of stopping. "Specialist solo travel companies say their customers are looking to visit ever more far-flung destinations and take more adventurous trips," she says. "They say the next trend will be for more 'independent' solo travellers - those who might want the security and peace of mind of booking with a tour operator, especially one which specialises in solo travel, but would prefer not to travel with a group."

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Inspired to make the leap? Lonely Planet has a new hub dedicated to the joy of solo travel. Check it out here.

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