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Single Supplement: The Two Dirtiest Words In Travel

Single Supplement: The Two Dirtiest Words In Travel
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BY KITT WALSH

Whether you are widowed, divorced, blissfully single or your partner has a different idea of what constitutes a vacation, if you are planning to travel solo, you will soon be faced with two words that will make you flinch: Single Supplement.

The Single Supplement is what you, as a solo traveler, will have to pay to a cruise line, tour company or hotel to compensate them for the fact they will be losing money if only one person uses the cabin or room. No matter that fully 25% of US travelers have traveled alone in the past few years (with the percentage rising every year), these companies assume everyone will travel as a pair (and, on cruises that often translates even further into a “couple”) and price everything based on double occupancy.

The Single Supplement can range from 10 percent to more than 100 percent of the double occupancy rate. (There are even nightmare tales of people being charged 200-300% over the dbo rate. Do your research, people. Search any trip you plan to book at both the double occupancy and then single occupancy rate before you sign on any dotted line.)

But can this dreaded Single Supplement be avoided?

Increasingly, the answer is “yes” but it will still take some doing. There are a few tour companies who cater to solo travelers (be sure to check carefully to see if such a “service” is offered on all their tours) and some companies offer a roommate matching service, allowing you to share with a same gender stranger (again, the fine print is important. SinglesCruise.com, for example, will say they offer no option to guarantee your new roomie is near your age, non-smoking, not someone who must loudly greet the dawn or not an ax murderer. Nor are you allowed to switch rooms if the situation really is untenable.)

You can join a singles travel network, like AllSinglesTravel.com or The Women’s Travel Group who will help you find travel partners (the latter will “eat” the extra cost of a single room if they can’t match you with anyone).

It is suggested in many travel forums, that if you book very far ahead or, conversely, at the very last minute, tour operators and hotels are more likely to allow you to book a single room at a double occupancy price. But there are downsides to this strategy: Wait too long and you may get no room at all and the single room they give you is not necessarily the same type as a double room. You could get the broom closet on the 18th floor.

Here’s some companies to check out:

Norwegian Cruise Lines: This cruise line (as opposed to say Royal Caribbean where you will not only be charged an exorbitant single supplement, but entertainment like the Newlywed Game and other couple-centric activities may leave you feeling lonely) was voted as the most solo friendly in 2013 by a cruise magazine. Many of their ships, like the Epic and the new Breakaway and Getaway, all have solo-friendly studio cabins.

Vacationstogo: This site offers discounted or no single supplements for Crystal, Silversea and Paul Gauguin cruises. Select “singles discounts” when you get to the site. You can also check Amarivercruises (an offshoot of the same company) for river cruises. They often wave their supplemental fees.

Zephyr Adventures finds you a roommate for the zip-lining, hiking, biking tours or gives you a single room free if they can’t find you one.

Serendipity Traveler offers small group women’s tours with private rooms and baths and no single supplement required in some of the world’s loveliest B&Bs and boutique hotels. With only 8 women max on each tour, they focus on fine dining, leisurely exploration and allowing you space to be alone if you want to commune with nature. They are pricey, but it is the respect for your privacy and individuality that you are buying.

Overseas Adventure Travel has no single supplement for any small-ship or land adventure and guarantees, through its Solo Traveler Challenge, that if you find a lower price (from a US company) for a solo traveler on a comparable international trip, they’ll not only match the price, but pay you $500.

Abercrombie & Kent has a whole category called “solo savings” for many of its destinations. This means that either the single supplement is waived entirely or can be reduced up to 75%.

Also, many travel sites that still do have single supplements, have travel forums to discuss with other travelers your questions and concerns about traveling solo. One such site is found at tauck.com. People’s takes on having been matched with “roommates” over the years makes for some interesting reading. Those who want to select their own cruise buddy, can try sites like CruiseMates.com, which has a message board where users can post roommate requests.  Another site to check out is TripTogether.com who hook people up to travel together or Live Chat about shared travel interests. Their pricing is a little complex and they do use the word “gazillion” on their site (which makes me feel like it is run by 12 year-olds,) but it is another way to try to get to know someone before you bunk with them.

Good hunting and safe travels

Kitt Walsh owns a web content company,, is a regular contributor to CNN Money, a public speaker on Social Media, a book editor and ghostwriter, and freelances as a feature writer, editor and marketing consultant for magazines, newspapers and private clients around the world.

 

 

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