Solo Travelers: Avoid the single supplement

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on June 24, 2004. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Rebecca Johnson, solo travel, vacation package.

If you like to travel alone, the phrase "based on double occupancy" is one of the most frustrating aspects of planning your trip. Many travel providers advertise low prices that are made possible by spreading the cost of lodging and transportation between two travelers, making the actual cost less per person but more expensive if you're traveling solo.

About 40 percent of adults in the US are single, so it's no surprise that many of our readers write to us for ideas on how to avoid the dreaded single supplement. Fortunately, there are several ways to make your travel dollars go further. Use the resources below when you begin to plan your next trip.


Single-friendly organizations

Single-friendly is often the term used to describe travel companies and organizations whose pricing and general policies are attractive to people who travel on their own. The Connecting Solo Travel Network publishes the Single-Friendly Travel Directory, which lists more than 250 organizations that "have been designated sensitive to the needs of people who travel alone." You receive a free copy of this directory when you become a member.

Contiki Vacations, which gears its packages toward 18- to 35-year-olds, will arrange roommates of the same sex if you are a solo traveler looking to avoid the single supplement. Nearly half of Contiki's guests take advantage of this option. The company caters to a younger crowd, and offers both "budget" and "superior" trips—the primary difference being the properties at which guests stay.

Singles Travel International offers a wide variety of upscale travel options, such as wine tasting in Michigan, hiking in Peru, and luxury cruises on the Queen Mary 2. According to Tammy Weiler, the organization's founder, the majority of STI's travelers are between the ages of 40 and 65. Their prices are by no means inexpensive and airfare is not included, but if you're in the market for a luxury vacation, be sure to consider this option. STI's cruises, for example, were less expensive than similar cruises for double occupancy rates on Travelocity in our recent comparison.

Many other sites specialize in single travel as well, with most offering roommate matching services to avoid the single supplement. O Solo Mio specializes in trips for singles ages 35 to 65, though most guests are in their 40s and 50s. The majority of O Solo Mio trips are to American or Western European destinations. Travel Buddies Singles Travel Club specializes in exotic destinations, primarily in the Eastern hemisphere, with trips that are often two weeks or more in duration. Meet Market Adventures considers itself a sports, social, and outdoors club, however in addition to its many day and weekend adventures, the company offers many international adventure vacations, with activities like rock climbing and mountain biking. Many of the same options are available at All Singles Travel. This organization also has specific options for Jewish singles trips, Christian singles trips, and senior singles trips.

Tour and vacation operators

Tour operators that do not specifically gear their packages towards singles often are not a great place to look for solo travel deals. There are exceptions to the rule, however. Any package with a single supplement of $25 per day or less is generally a decent option. While most of the packages in our research listed supplemental charges in excess of $25, we also found a number of individual offers from providers like Octopus Travel and Gate 1 Travel that hovered around $18 per day extra.

You may also consider being your own travel agent. By booking sale fares and inexpensive lodging, you may save a considerable amount of money and allow yourself the most flexibility in your travel plans.

Finding a partner

Traveling with a companion is the surest way to save money when you're on your own because you can split costs and avoid the single supplement. Nowadays, there are many reputable organizations that help travelers worldwide find compatible travel partners for little or no fee.

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