In preparation for being interviewed
on the BBC World's travel program, called "fast:track," I asked experts
if they knew of tour operators that waived or markedly lowered the
single supplement. (Who knew the BBC piece was going to involve a boy blowup doll?!)
respondents told me about companies they knew or, or represented, that don't charge the single supplement. But I
know better than to believe that right off.
And indeed, after some
simple checking, it turns out that for many tour operators only waive the single supplement
if you're willing to share a room with another person signed up for the trip. I don't think that's what people
are looking for when they ask about the single supplement. But it's a
relatively common option and a saving grace for those looking to save money, and who don't mind sharing a room that they won't be spending much time in anyway.
Find the real deals.
The BodyHoliday at LeSport on St. Lucia in the Caribbean built a wing with 29 rooms for single occupancy, all of them with queen beds. None of them ocean front, but hey, you can't have everything. The ocean's steps away, anyway.
- Tauck World Discovery is waiving the single supplement on some cruises in 2010, as it did in 2009.
- Uniworld River Cruises has a number of savings for 2010, including no single supplement on select cruises, according to a story in The Washington Post. If solo travelers book and submit a deposit by Jan. 31, the cruise line will waive the extra fee for solo travelers on several European voyages.
- Windjammer cruises out of Maine offers single rooms and no single supplements.
- Red Mountain Resort & Spa in Utah has a deal running through January 15 that waives the single supplement. It's too late for anyone to scramble now to get that, but those deals may come around again. Or you could try to negotiate for such a deal once the (arbitrary) deadline is up in a few days. Which leads to my next tip...
Wheedle, whine or beg for a discount. Or just ask nicely. "Any deals I don't know about?" If arriving last minute, ask for a discount and be willing to walk away. If, that is, you have somewhere else to stay.
Avoid package tours altogether.
Book your own travel and lodgings in hostels, bed and breakfasts or guesthouses that have single rooms. Some B&B's run solo travel specials from time to time.
Enlist the help of a travel agent.
A travel agent can alert you when companies drop or lower their single supplements.
Be a savvy Web user.
Become a member of a hotel loyalty program.
Even if you don't use a particular hotel much, members probably are treated better. And hotels might be more willing to lower prices or sweeten the deal. (See negotiate above)
Book Last minute.
If you can't avoid the single supplement, at least try to find companies that keep them quite low.
Go off season.
You might think, "Why should I? Why should I be relegated to a less desirable season to get the deals I deserve?" Well, it's true for everyone, couples and families alike. I usually choose NOT to travel in summer, solo or no, because I don't want to fight crowds and pay high prices. Or get bumped off flights or frozen out of hotels I might want to stay at.
Do you have other suggestions for avoiding the single supplement?
(I've written up some of these tips before, but you can never hear them too much...I hope.)