It’s no secret that many cruise lines, tour operators, all-inclusive resorts and even hotels charge considerably lower prices to those who travel in twos. And even if a single traveler is willing to take a chance and bunk with a stranger, most travel companies don’t offer any help in finding a partner.
But the scene is changing as more travel companies try to tap into the growing single-traveler market. Solo travelers made up 24 percent of travelers in 2015, up from 15 percent in 2013, according to the 2015 Visa Global Intentions Study of 13,603 travelers across 25 countries.
Responding to the increased demand, more tour operators are playing roommate matchmaker, cruise lines are adding one-person accommodations and all-inclusives are touting special single deals.
This sampling of travel companies offering incentives to those going it alone is not exhaustive. Even for those companies that don’t advertise any deals for singles, it’s never a bad idea to pick up the phone and ask. Prices can often be negotiated, especially for trips outside of high season.
Serendipity Traveler, with trips including the Best of South Africa to Historic Charleston and Savannah, offers private rooms with no additional fees.
The Women’s Travel Group, whose motto is “Smart Tours for Women/Savings for Solo Travelers,” offers several tours and cruises each year featuring “guaranteed shares,” meaning that it promises to match you with a roommate or, if unsuccessful, cover the supplement. This year’s offerings include an October visit to New York City and a holiday river cruise in Europe.
Gutsy Women Travel, with trips around the globe, has no single supplement for solo travelers on its land tours. If single accommodations are sold out, the company offers to match solo travelers with a roommate and will provide an additional $100 savings to those who are willing to share.
Travendly organizes trips for young professionals who live in the same city. You have to apply to score a spot on each trip. And, while applicants are permitted to travel with one friend, they usually come alone. Prices are based on double occupancy, but the company pairs roommates based on applications and a pre-trip get-together. If there are an odd number of participants, a single supplement option is offered. If no one takes it, a random person is chosen for a single room at no charge. Trips include a four-night trip to Cuba and 11 days in Patagonia.
Contiki offers tours for travelers ages 18 to 35, and markets to the solo traveler. The company pairs roommates to avoid the single supplement, and there is no fee if it can’t find a match. Trips go to Asia, North America, Europe, Central America, South America, Australia and New Zealand.
Trek America is an adventure-travel company based in London catering to travelers ages 18 to 38. More than 75 percent of its participants go solo, and single travelers are paired with roommates; no single supplement is charged, even if they can’t pair travelers. The company offers a large assortment of U.S. trips, but also covers Central America, Canada and South America.
Overseas Adventure Travel, which has seen its single traveler percentages grow from 27 percent in 2010 to 40 percent today, has free single supplements on all its land tours and either free or low-cost single supplements on its small-ship adventures. Solo space is allocated on all departures. The company operates in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, the Middle East, Cuba, Australia and New Zealand.
ElderTreks, which specializes in “exotic adventures” for those 50 and older, offers trips worldwide. The company will match single travelers with roommates on most of its trips, and doesn’t charge if a match can’t be arranged.
Road Scholar, which specializes in learning adventures, has designated trips that offer the same price for solo travelers as for those traveling in pairs. Destinations cover North America, Europe, Bhutan, South America and Central America, and range from hiking in Wyoming and Montana’s Beartooth Mountains to exploring the Scottish Highlands.
General Tour Operators
Intrepid Travel handles more than 100,000 travelers each year, sending them to more than 100 countries. More than half of them travel solo. The adventure-tour operator has four itineraries in 2018 — Beautiful Bali, Best of Morocco, Golden Triangle and Vietnam Express Southbound — earmarked just for solo travelers. They are paired with roommates at no cost on all trips, and those who can’t be paired are not charged a single supplement.
G Adventures offers more than 700 tours around the globe that cover a variety of styles, including family vacations, rail trips and active adventures; more than 40 percent of its customers travel solo. Single travelers can opt to be matched with a roommate to avoid any single supplement, and no supplement is charged if a share can’t be arranged. The company also offers the “My Own Room” option on most tours, which guarantees participants that amenity for a modest additional fee.
Wendy Wu Tours, a London-based company that specializes in travel to Asia, recently announced that it will waive single-supplement charges on select Classic and Discovery escorted tours that are booked directly with the company for travel through Dec. 31. The company also always offers a “willing to share policy” that promises to “pair you with another member of your tour group of the same gender — and even if we’re unable to match you up, you won’t be charged a single supplement.” Premium tours are excluded.
Vantage Deluxe World Travel’s river ships include between six and eight cabins built for solo travelers. It also offers at least one free single supplement on a double cabin for each cruise departure.
Norwegian Cruise Line was the first oceangoing cruise line to offer dedicated cabins for single passengers. The approximately 100-square-foot cabins are now offered on Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Escape and Pride of America, with cruises to the Caribbean, Europe and Hawaii. Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian’s newest ship, will also offer studio staterooms when the ship debuts in summer 2018; it will sail weekly, from Seattle, on Alaska cruises. Solo accommodations include access to the Studio Lounge, a shared private area with complimentary coffee, espresso and snacks, and a big-screen TV. Studio cabin rates are more expensive than double occupancy, but cheaper than booking a double cabin as a singleton; expect to save about $400 on an average week-long Caribbean cruise.
Royal Caribbean has studio cabins on 10 ships, with its Quantum class vessels — Anthem of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas — offering at least 26 studios each. The staterooms for singles range in size from 101 to 119 square feet. There are several classes of studios, including inside, virtual balcony and ocean view with balcony. Expect to pay about $400 less on an average week-long Bahamas cruise as a single in a studio cabin than the price of booking a regular cabin as a single.
AMResorts, the parent company for Zoetry, Secrets, Dreams, Now, Sunscape and Breathless resorts in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America, offers frequent sales that waive the single supplement. All but Zoetry are waiving the supplement for singles for travel Aug. 19 till Dec. 22. Also, Breathless resorts offer a Single and Ready to Mingle package that includes communal tables, pop-up parties and other activities for singles.