Mellonie Sanborn, a 50-something mother from New Jersey, had never vacationed alone until 2001, when she found herself suddenly single and her children all grown up. Itching to try something new, she booked a hiking-and-biking trip with The World Outdoors, an adventure travel outfitter that caters to solo travelers. This summer, she’ll be going on her seventh solo trip with the company.
“It opened up a whole new world to me and has helped me overcome some of the fears that held me back in the past,” says Sanborn. “I’ve met some of the most wonderful people on my trips. Plus, I’ve found it to be a good value for the money.”
The World Outdoors is one of a growing number of travel companies trying to please single travelers by making it easier and less expensive to go solo. Eleven percent of all leisure travelers in U.S. are vacationing alone (according to figures supplied by AAA), and the demand for more affordable solo travel options continues to grow.
Solo travelers have long been financially penalized by most travel providers. Anybody who’s looked into traveling alone has come across the dreaded “prices based on double occupancy” restriction. Most travel providers have determined that a room or cruise cabin occupied by only one person is a money-losing proposition. Thus comes the dreaded “single supplement,” a fee that can sometimes double the price of accommodations.
There are ways to eliminate or reduce the penalty fees, however. A handful of tour companies and cruise sellers offer reduced fees, and some charge no single supplement at all on certain tours and cruises. Many more offer free roommate matching, which pairs same-sex single travelers together to share accommodations. And, some companies run tours and cruises exclusively for singles; these include group activities and social mixers, giving travelers the option to be matched with a roommate or stay in their own room, sometimes with a discounted single supplement.