Feeling the wind in your hair, the freedom of choice, the ability to sleep in if you want or get up with the sun if your heart desires. If you’ve traveled solo, there’s a list of reasons you loved it.
The one thing that puts a damper on any solo adventure, though, are the extra fees. Extra room costs, travel fees and other wallet-wounders, make solo travel more of a dream than a reality for many.
With some tips and tricks, there are ways to get around those single supplement fees, the dirty “S” words of the solo travelsphere, that sometimes double the cost of solo travel for adventurers who want to blaze a trail on their own.
Mind the Details
Single-supplement fees are extra charges that some cruise lines or tour operators—sometimes even hotels and other lodging purveyors—impose on single travelers to recoup money that might be lost as most packages are charged on the assumption of double occupancy. Solo traveling is all about solo adventure and paying for a person who’s not accompanying them limits solo travel options for many budget-minded travelers.
“The other thing is that the solo traveler has to be careful about single supplement waived because some companies will still charge the surplus,” said Janice Waugh, editor of Solo Traveler. “But if it’s a great deal, it’s a great deal and let’s travel. If it’s in your budget and you want to do it, then do it.”
Waugh advises a first basic step: "Just ask.”
“There’s no harm in asking,” said Waugh. “Nothing's going to happen, except good things as a possibility.”
If going the self-booking route, there’s always a chance that a travel company will work with potential clients to remove or significantly reduce single-supplement fees. Asking travel planners to work with companies is also an option that could save on single-supplement fees.
One of Waugh’s top tips to anyone who wants affordable solo travel options is to set up Google alerts with the desired destination and “single supplement” to trigger emails with information about trips available that have limited or no single supplement.
Another tool is the Solo Travel landing page and newsletter that show a continually updated list of providers that offer solo-friendly trips and new packages and deals that are also easy on solo travelers' wallets. This list is based on Waugh's own Google alerts and travel-provider relationships.
Get in a Group
Solo travel doesn’t have to mean traveling alone when there are dozens of travel providers tailoring packages and trips to people who want to travel solo and meet new people, make memories and have great experiences.
“We want solo travelers to have access to the same benefits as the rest of the group,” said Steve Lima, spokesperson for G Adventures. “Instead of additional fees, we match solo travelers up with up same-sex roommates, who often become good friends.”
With more travelers planning solo trips, it helps the companies and the consumer to accommodate solo travelers.
“Solo travelers make up 50 percent of Intrepid’s 150,000 travelers per year, because of how our trips are run and the types of people on them,” said Leigh Barnes, Intrepid Travel North American regional director. “In a recent study we commissioned, we found that solo travelers find it more relaxing and easier to meet friends when they travel alone, but they want to have a group to travel with.”