Single Travel – No Partner, No Problem, No Longer
People who love to travel don’t always come in pairs, but the travel industry still favours pricing based on double occupancy. It’s a big problem for many solo travellers, since the penalties for taking a single room can be discouragingly high and finding a travel mate to fill that second bed is often difficult. There is good news though. Single travel is on the radar now with several tour companies.
I first encountered the singles issue working for a tour company in Calgary that catered to “seniors”. It did not take me long to learn that women were our primary market. Many had lived their adult lives raising families, building careers, or both, and now wanted to see more of the world. They liked the safe social environment of tours. But in this age group many of the women were single, had outlived their spouses, or were divorced. The single travel issue is not just confined to older women though.
American census statistics in 2016 report that 50% of people over the age of 18 are singles. Similar ratios exist across other countries and so the demand for single travel is potent. Over the last few years some travel companies have taken notice and have come up with solutions.
The first type of solution appeals to a lot of people: group tours where single travellers get to stay in their own private room and pay no single supplement. Companies have different ways of supplying this, so it’s good to understand some of the nuances.
Some companies, from tour operators to river cruises, set aside certain departures with a limited number of spaces having no single supplements. Singles travel with a regular group of people, and they take part in all the activities that the program offers, and they stay in a single room. But there are other companies that have taken the single room with no single supplement on step further.
These singles’ tours don’t take any double or twin bookings at all. Everyone on the tour is travelling single with their own private room. There’s other features that make these tours inviting.
There’s generally more flex-time than regular tours for people to explore independently, while offering as much social time as you want. So, for example, your tour may be visiting Florence, Italy, and you have a fascination with the Borgias. You can take time away to explore this and even be assisted to do so.
The prices of these trips vary depending on the destination and type of tour, but are generally competitive with similar quality tours at the double occupancy rate.
There are walking tours, vacation getaway trips, coach tours, and river cruises. These solo only tours are just making their way into Canada and they are very popular.
The third type of single travel solution is what I term a shared room guarantee price. The idea is very simple. The tour company offers to put you in a room with another single person of the same sex. If there isn’t another single on the trip, you stay in your own room and don’t pay the single supplement. It’s very clean and straightforward. There are several active tour and adventure tour companies doing this, but there are a also a few escorted tour companies that offer them too.
While sharing space with a stranger might seem risky, it actually works out pretty well in my experience. It requires an open mind and the ability to be flexible. For example, if you are a light sleeper, try some ear plugs at home first to see if they interfere with your sleeping. On the trip, if you and your roommate are really not able to get along, let the tour guide or company representative know. They will have plans and policies in place to deal with this.
The fourth type of trip is one I have also operated. It is the totally customized, private or a semi-private tour. These trips can be pricy, but they need not be severely expensive. Many non-North American hotels have a selection of smaller rooms for singles and are discounted accordingly.
For example, I had one person that was very interested in Easter Island archeology and other aspects of archeology on mainland Chile. There were no tours that did exactly what was wanted, so I designed a personal program. The client did not require a guide at all times, so I was able to use local guides and mix in existing transportation services instead of fully private ones. For accommodation, smaller family owned hotels were used but in some destinations there were casas de huespedes, hostels, even bed and breakfasts. It was highly satisfactory and I’ve done this type of program for many people, singles, couples and families. The key is planning and trusted in-country operators.
There’s no need to stay home anymore if you’re single and want to take a tour. There are single travel options in most price ranges and lots of destinations. If you are interested in these, explore more of this website and then visit the brochure order page to get some more detailed material sent to your home or contact me here by phone or email.