We’re converts of travelling alone. It means more freedom to do exactly as you please, and far from being a solitary experience, it often results in meeting a whole lot more people than you would if you travelled with a group.
But there’s one thing we’re not so keen on: unfair single supplements.
It’s common to see a single supplement added on to holiday prices, or for the solo person price to be far higher than the per person rate for a pair sharing. In cases where it’s a LOT more expensive for a solitary traveller, it can feel like an unfair penalty – and even make solo travel prohibitively expensive.
So why is the price higher for solo travellers?
In some cases, some additional cost is understandable. For example if you’re staying in a double hotel room, you have to cover the whole room cost yourself, rather than splitting the cost in two. In return you do get double the space to yourself…
But you should expect a discount on a B&B rate – unless you intend to eat two breakfasts!
But what if you’re booking a single room? While your room cost is less, hotels argue that the associated costs are the same: the cost of cleaning, heating and electricity for one person will not be half of two people’s. So there is still a small supplement to pay. And let’s not get into the argument over single rooms, which are often inferior in location, space or decor to their double counterparts.
Finally there’s a rather cynical argument that solo travellers are just less attractive to hotels and cruise operators. After all, a solo traveller represents only one person to spend extra in your restaurant and bar rather than two.
What you can do:
Firstly we’ve collected a whole lot of ways you can save on your next solo venture – from bargaining to backpacking!
Another thing you can do is keep being vocal – make sure tour operators, travel agents and hotels know there’s plenty of solo travellers out there – and if they want to be attractive to this growing market they’re going to have to offer you a fair deal.
On that note made a list here of travel companies who have already cottoned on, and offer solo holidays and solo-traveller friendly deals.
Single specialist tour companies
First the good news: there are plenty of companies out there that focus on organising every type of holiday for solo travellers. Naturally they wouldn’t dream of adding a solo supplement.
And the bad? Because of the specialist nature of the companies they tend to be on the more expensive side of the market. As deal-hunting specialists we have to admit that we find fewer deals and smaller discounts on solo holidays than we do elsewhere. But that’s not to say they don’t exist, and here’s a couple of recommendations if you’re looking for great-value dedicated solo travel.
Friendship Travel – These guys organise a whole range of holidays across Europe and beyond. They’re good for a laid-back sunshine getaways, and in a couple of resorts they take over an entire hotel, so they can create exactly the friendly single environment you’d want.
Just You – This solo specialist tends to focus on excursions, ensuring you make the most of the beautiful regions you’re staying in. Take a trip to Dubai complete with sightseeing tours and a Dhow dinner cruise, or explore the Croatian coastline with day trips to Zadar, Dubrovnik and the island of Hvar.
Travel One – The focus here is on offering solo travellers great value – and their prices for sunshine holidays are less than we’ve seen elsewhere. They cover Turkey, Spain and other Mediterranean beach destinations as well as Goa and Cuba.
Solos – Try Solos if you want to pick from a wide range of holidays. They offer everything from lazy sunshine escapes to skiing trips and adventurous tours.
Small Families – Single parent families need a holiday too! And with only one parent the travel challenge with kids doubles. That’s why this company offers escorted group holidays for single parents. They aim to take all the stress out of travelling, and give both kids and parents time to socialise.
More Ways to Avoid the Solo Supplement
If you’re travelling solo due to a lack of travel companions, rather than a desire to be alone, some travel companies can match you up with another single holiday maker – you then share a room and completely bypass the need for a single supplement.
Rest assured you won’t be paired with just anyone – you will always be matched with a room-mate of the same gender, and some companies will do their best to match on age and interests too.
It’s not for all, but if you’re looking forward to meeting some new people on holiday it can be a great option. Who knows, you could be sharing with your new BFF.
Or find your own room-mate
Not travelling with one of the companies above? Thanks to the internet you can find your own travel companion! There’s a wealth of ways you can connect with like-minded travellers who might also want to half their costs! From dedicated travel-companion networks like travbuddy.com to posting in online forums like lonelyplanet.
As with meeting up with anyone from the internet, use your common sense and make sure you’re completely comfortable with the situation. You don’t have to give out personal contact details straight away, send them a couple of online messages and when you’re ready, speak with them on the phone. After all, if you’re going to holiday with this person you want to be sure you can have a great conversation! When you meet, do so in a public space and make sure you let others know where you’re going and who with.
Sounds so ridiculously simple doesn’t it? But seriously, try it. In the UK haggling is generally not considered the norm, but it is possible to get money off a holiday just by asking.
If you’re speaking to your travel agent in person or on the phone, just let them know you’re not happy about the single supplement and ask if there’s anything they can do about it. If they are especially keen to make the sale they may be able to offer you a discount.
Go last minute or in the off season
You can enhance your chances of getting money off the single supplement by picking a holiday at a time of year when travel agents are most keen to fill rooms: the off season.
Of course you should make sure that the weather is still good enough that you want to go! Destinations like Paphos and Malta remain bright and sunny all year round, and in some tropical countries the ‘wet’ season just means one short shower per day. If you’re happy to travel in the off or shoulder seasons, not only will your holiday be far cheaper, but you’ll find your bargaining power increases too.
Last-minute holidays can have the same effect. Sometimes travel agents end up with a whole hotel to fill at the last minute. Let it be known you want one of those rooms, and they might be more amenable to waiving the single supplement.
We will always advocate comparing prices here at dealchecker. It’s a thing we do… But if you’re finding a single supplement too high for your liking with one travel agent, there’s nothing to stop you from checking what it is elsewhere – and the best idea of all is to go direct. Contact the hotel directly for prices, and try the same tactic of asking them to waive the single supplement. After all, if you’ve asked two people for a discount, you’ve doubled your chances that someone says yes!
Stay in hostels…
Hostels are naturally solo traveller friendly. If you’re up for staying in a dorm you’ll just be paying for one bed, and they’re incredibly sociable. Yes some resemble university halls during fresher’s week. But if you’re not up for 24-hour partying check the reviews beforehand, there are hostels out there that are suited to older, calmer travellers. And some which offer some stand out facilities like chill-out rooms, spas, pools and cinemas.
…Or other alternative accommodation options
Hotels are hardly the only bed in town these days. There’s a whole host of alternative hosts – anything from apartment rentals through airbnb to camping and couchsurfing. The only limit is how adventurous you want to be.
Couchsurfing – across the globe thousands of people have opened up their spare rooms and sofabeds to travellers. This is a great way of meeting new people, getting the genuine local travel advice and visiting some unusual locations – and all offered for free. It operates on a match system – you check out people’s profiles before you request to stay, and they’ll choose whether they want host you too. If you’re travelling alone it’s a great way of meeting new friends, many of them are travellers themselves. But do make sure you’re comfortable with your host before you confirm anything.
Go Cambio – This website operates on a similar system to couchsurfing, except that you’re exchanging skills in return for accommodation. Help your host practice their English, teach music or whatever it is that you’re good at.
airbnb – You can find some incredible places to stay on airbnb. Anything from boats to vintage caravans, sheds and treehouses are listed on their site. However as a solo traveller it’ll probably be the small flats and studio apartments that are of most interest, especially if you’re someone who likes having your own space when you travel. While it’s not set up for solo travellers (many rooms and apartments are big enough for two) it usually works out cheaper than a hotel in the same area.
Camping – If your primary concern as a solo traveller is keeping costs down camping is a great option. A single-man tent barely needs any room! You might be surprised how common campsites are near city centres. And if you’re after a countryside escape camping couldn’t be better.