Traveling as a Single Person
Going it Alone?
Cruise lines will often
offer single cabins at single rates without any premiums,
and with a bit of artful upgrading (with the help of a
specialist cruise agency) you can find yourself enjoying a
lovely twin cabin for no more money.
Almost one in three adult
Americans is single, one in four of us has taken a vacation
alone during the last three years, and, on average, the typical
American will spend more of their life between 15-85 single than
with a partner. But few of us enjoy traveling alone, or welcome
the dreaded 'single supplement' that is often imposed when we're
The good news is that these
days, single travelers have plenty of options to make single
travel as pleasant (and affordable) as possible, and/or to match
them up with other like minded travelers so that they can enjoy
the company of a second person. With the growing number of
single adults, specialized travel companies are now catering to
this important market.
Depending on your point of
view, single supplements are either unavoidable and fair, or
else the worst act of perfidy in the travel universe.
To view it from the positive
perspective, most hotels these days do not charge extra for two
people sharing one room. If I'm traveling with a companion, this
But, from the single
traveler's point of view, that $150/night hotel room, which
splits to $75 each for two people traveling, becomes, all of a
sudden, twice as much for the single traveler.
There is more to a single
supplement calculation than just doubling the per person room
costs. If that same hotel also included a free breakfast, then
it should charge less for a single person (in total) than for
two people, because it is only providing one breakfast. Some
hotels that have various 'per person' type inclusions within
their rates will recognize this fact and adjust their single
supplement accordingly, but others will not.
If you are on a multi-day
tour that includes accommodation, then you'll find these single
supplements appearing in the tour price as well, because
obviously the hotel passes such costs on to the tour operator.
But because some of the tour inclusions are 'per person' items
like admissions, the seat on the coach, air fares, etc, the
single supplement on a tour is not (or at least should not be) a
doubling of the 'per person share twin' rate.
However, some (very greedy!)
tour operators will say 'because you have deprived me of the
chance to sell a companion onto my tour, I'm going to make you
(the single traveler) give me all the profit I would have made
from two people traveling'! Stay well clear of operators that
take this attitude to single travel.
However, no matter how it is
calculated, and how much it is, the cost of a single person
traveling alone should always be no more than the cost of two
people traveling together.
Saving on Single Supplements
Some hotels and some cruise
lines have special 'single' rooms at rates substantially below
twin room rates. These rooms are sometimes much smaller than a
twin room, with only one single bed in them, but sometimes the
'single room' is purely a marketing concept, and single people
will get exactly the same room, for much less money, than a
couple would get if traveling together.
These enlightened hotels and
cruise operators understand that if they have a definite number
of empty unsold rooms or cabins, they are better advised to sell
them at a lower price to single travelers than they are to leave
them empty and unsold.
How do you find such hotels
and cruise lines? The best approach is to use a specialist
travel agency that deals with singles travel.
If you're traveling alone,
you should turn the 'single supplement' issue around on its head
and ask for a 'single discount' off hotel rates. These seem to
be more prevalent in Europe than in North America, but it never
hurts to ask, wherever you are, and it might encourage the hotel
to give you some type of discount, even if it isn't officially a
Singles Touring - Share Twin
Programs on Regular Tours
Some regular tour operators
have a 'twin share' program where a person that is traveling
alone need pay only the regular 'per person share twin' rate .
The tour company then undertakes to match that person up with
another person of the same gender who will share the room. If it
is a guaranteed program, and the tour operator fails to find
another single traveler on the same tour of the same sex, you
get to have a room to yourself without having to pay the single
supplement - a great deal.
Some tour operators will
only offer to match you with a person of the same sex. Others
will also match you with a person that is either a smoker or
nonsmoker, based on your own preference.
But in such cases, you are
still a single person on a tour that is mainly couples.
Hopefully your room mate turns out to be a good companion, so
that you can enjoy both someone's company and also the lower
cost of the twin share rate.
Singles Touring - Share Twin
Programs on Singles Tours
Many of the specialized
singles tour operators operate dedicated singles-only tours (or
block a large number of cabins on cruises and maybe even have
their own dining area), and in such cases, most people choose to
share with another traveler (although single rooms are usually
available as an extra-cost option).
Singles touring is sometimes
offered to specified age groups (eg 18-35, or 30+) and sometimes
the tour operator tends to generally get a fairly clearly
defined demographic of attendees. You should ask to understand
the likely type of people that you're probably going to be
traveling with in terms of age and even nationality. Most
companies are coy about detailing the mix between men and women
on these tours, but it seems that it is more common for there to
be slightly more women than men in most cases.
Singles Touring - a Romantic
Some of the singles tour
operators concentrate on the travel experience alone. But some
of them add the possibility of a romantic element, by pitching
their travel more clearly to single people that are looking for
partners, not just for a short vacation, but for their future
life as a whole!
Travel Themed Match-making
Several of the operators
listed on the
links page do not arrange any touring at all. They simply
help you to meet a like minded travel partner, either of the
same or opposite sex, and with or without romantic overtones,
and then, after the two of you have got to know each other,
you're then free to make whatever travel (or other!)
arrangements that you might wish.
Solo Travelers with Special
There also exist services
for assisting travelers with special needs. One excellent
example of this is the Journeywoman website that helps solo
woman with the travels. Other sites exist for disabled travelers
and gay travelers, and probably for just about every other
category of traveler too.
Several of the operators on
links page have free e-zines that they send out every month
or so. If you find an operator that appeals to you, be sure to
put yourself on their mailing list.
Related Articles, etc
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2 Aug 2002, last update
17 Apr 2019
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