Since 2009, we've been working to change the way the travel industry serves solo travelers. We've been teaching solo travelers how to find trips with no single supplement and encouraging companies to eliminate it.
It's not been an easy battle but we are gaining ground. More companies are offering more trips and more departures with no single supplements. In fact, there are now some companies that cater exclusively to solo travelers.
It used to be that solo travelers had to search online for tours and cruises for which the single supplement had been waived. Finding a tour with the supplement waived was like finding gold. It was uncommon. Companies did it in a last ditch attempt to sell space on tours and ships. It made solo travelers feel like they were at the bottom of the barrel.
You can still see ads with “single supplement waived” but, more and more, you can find departures with no single supplement at all. Solo travelers are a desirable demographic for the travel industry.
Recognizing the fact that so many companies now focus on the solo travel market, we launched the Solo Travel Awards last year. Winners of the Awards were:
On today's post, I offer updated advice on how to avoid single supplements on tours and cruises.
Avoid Single Supplements on Tours and Cruises
With the knowledge of how the travel industry is adapting to solo travelers, here are my top tips for finding your ideal trip with the single supplement waived.
- Check out the Deals page and sign up for the Solo Traveler Advisory. Hundreds of people use our Deals page every day. The offerings on it change monthly. Want it in your inbox so that you don't miss anything? Sign up for our Solo Travel Advisory.
- Google. This is the most obvious tip yet many people don’t think of it. Simply Google “no single supplement” or “single supplement waived” and your desired destination to see what’s out there.
- Set up a Google alert for your desired trip. When you set up a Google Alert you’ll receive an email every time the phrase you’ve selected is published on the Internet. For example, if you want a trip to Ireland without a single supplement, this is what you’d do:
- Go to Google.com/alerts
- In the box at the top of the page set up an alert in this format: “single supplement waived” “Ireland”.
- Set your options such as how often you want to receive an email regarding your alert.
- Hit “Create Alert” and you’re done. How many no single supplement opportunities this will present will depend on the nature of your request.
- Know how to search a website for no single supplements. We encourage companies to have pages on their websites specifically for solo travelers. On these pages the company policy regarding solo travelers and the single supplement should be communicated clearly, followed, hopefully, by a listing of trips with no single supplement. To find these pages on a site look for “Solo Travel” in the menu at the top of the site or use the search box that is usually at the top as well and search “solo travel”.
- Know how to calculate the size of the supplement you may have to pay. It may not be clear whether a trip has a single supplement. First, look to see if the price says “based on double occupancy” or has an asterisk beside it that links to the same information. If so, you know there's a supplement but you don't know how much it is. At this point I suggest that you go to the payment page before you read all the wonderful details about the trip. There will be a place where you indicate the number of people booking the trip. Calculate the cost of the trip twice, once for one person and once for two people. Here's how you determine the single supplement rate. Divide the price for the single person by half the price of two people and you'll find the percentage of the supplement being charged. For example, if the price for one person is 1,200 and the price for two people is $2,000 then your simple equation would be: 1,200 ÷ 1,000 = 1.2. 1.2 equals 120% and indicates a 20% single supplement. Now that you know what the supplement is, you may be in a position to negotiate a better deal.
- Book early or last minute. Some companies will be more willing to negotiate on the supplement when they've just announced the trip (for a couple of spots) and also near the departure time to fill empty spaces. Booking very early or at the last minute can be your answer to a great deal.
- Choose the shoulder season. You're going to have more success finding trips with no single supplement when the tours are not as busy, the resorts not as full, and the ships not as booked. Try to plan your vacation at the time of year when most people are not traveling.
- Fine-tune your timing. Solo or not, flexibility is always a factor when looking for great deals. A day earlier or later can make a difference on a flight; a week sooner or later can make a difference on a cruise. Do your research and see just what that difference is. And, again, negotiate. Ask whether by changing your dates the company could waive the single supplement for you.
- Be bold and ask for the supplement to be waived. Your success may depend on how soon the ship sails or how empty the resort is, but it’s always worth asking to have the single supplement waived. If you’re working with a travel agent, ask them to negotiate for you – perhaps they’ll have some leverage or inside knowledge that will help them be successful. If they’re not successful, go to the operator directly and try yourself.
- If you have to, accept a roommate. Many people don’t like the idea of being paired with a stranger for a trip but I’ve heard many good reports and even that great friendships have resulted from this. After all, if you’re on the same trip you likely have something in common. Companies that do this will pair you up with someone of the same sex and, if they don’t have someone for you, they will usually waive the supplement. Read: Find a Travel Partner: Match-ups, Meet-ups, and Hook-ups.
And finally, find an offer you can’t refuse. Find a deal so great that the single supplement isn’t really an issue. You may still have to pay a supplement but if you find a screaming deal it won’t be quite so painful.
Here are a few posts you'll want to read:
- Finding Solo Time on a Group Tour
- Solo Travel Destination: Morocco
- China Through the Eyes of Others
- Solo on a River Cruise: Enjoy Both Social and Alone Time
- Life on a River Cruise? Here’s What It’s Like