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O Solo Mia: Saga of the Single Supplement

I travel alone, but not always because I don’t have a travel companion.  It can be a lot of fun to go out on your own, go where you want, explore, meet new people and change plans when you want.  But as a single person in a world that seems to be designed for couples and families, I sometimes feel like a second class citizen.

Single TravellerWaiters ignore me, perhaps thinking their tip will be a pittance anyway.  People ask me to change seats in the theatre so their entire party can sit together.  And then there’s the dreaded “single supplement,” a fee (more like a penalty) for traveling alone.

Travel is already expensive, but for the solo traveler who has to pay that single supplement, it can cost a fortune.  It can be the deal breaker, the thing that keeps you from going on that trip.

Most tour and cruise package prices are based on double occupancy.  When a solo traveler joins a tour or cruise, that person has to pay a single supplement, usually an additional 25 to 100 percent of the fee.  That seems downright unfair.

There are some ways around this, however, if you’re willing to compromise a little.  Here are a few suggestions:

Some tour operators and cruise lines offer roommate matching.  It’s worth the effort for the company to do this, as they still get to book two people per room, and this practice encourages the single traveler to go on the tour, as they don’t have to pay the extra cost.  Some of these companies will still waive the single supplement, even if they’re unable to find you a roommate.

These companies offer roommate matching:

G Adventures: http://www.gadventures.com/

The Women’s Travel Group: http://www.thewomenstravelgroup.com/

Intrepid Travel: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/

Rick Steves’ Europe: http://www.ricksteves.com/

Backroads Travel: http://www.backroads.com/

Women Traveling Together: https://www.women-traveling.com/

Singles Travel Escapes: http://singlestravelescapes.com/

SinglesCruise.com: http://singlescruise.com/

The drawback, of course, is that you have to room with a stranger.  Some tour companies will try to match people of similar ages, backgrounds and personalities.  Other companies, like Cruise Mates (http://cruisemates.com/), allow you to post on their site to find your own roommate.  Check with the tour operator to learn about their matching procedure.

Many tour operators will waive the single supplement if they aren’t able to sell out their tour.  Abercrombie & Kent (http://www.abercrombiekent.com/) waves or significantly reduces the single supplement on select departures of their escorted programs.  You’ll need to watch your favorite travel sites and be willing to book at the last minute.  Better yet, sign up for newsletters from solo and singles travel sites.  That way, you’ll always get the latest news on discounts and deals.

Some tour and companies and cruise lines offer a discounted single rate or don’t charge any single supplement at all.  Here are a few of them:

UniworldRiver Cruises: http://uniworld.com/solo-travelers

Overseas Adventure Travel: http://www.oattravel.com/ways-to-save/solo-traveler.aspx

G Adventures: http://www.gadventures.com/

Grand Circle Travel: http://www.gct.com/

Intrepid Travel: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/

Norwegian Cruise Lines “Epic” (http://www.ncl.com/) offers solos a specially priced studio stateroom.

Not every solo traveler is single.  In fact, many married people travel alone, because their spouses don’t care to travel.  Statistics show there’s a growing market for solo travelers, and more travel sites for solos are springing up on the Internet.  Tour operators would be smart to market to the solo traveler and make solo travel more affordable by waiving the single supplement.  They would undoubtedly increase their profitability by doing this.

Perhaps they’re already realizing the value of the single traveler, as I’m finding more travel sites that cater to the solo traveler or destinations that offer packages specifically for solos.

I recently found a spa package for solos at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa (http://www.ojairesort.com/).  Ojai is an easy drive from Los Angeles, so I plan to spend a weekend at this spa in the next few months and will try out their solo package.  I’ll tell you all about my experience.

If you know of other great deals for solo travelers, I’d love to hear about them.  Please post a note on the Mia Terra Blog facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/miaterrablog, and while you’re there, please “like” Mia.

 

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