It takes only three things to find a way around the dreaded single supplement: a plan, some pals and a PC (or a Mac, but we’re getting ahead of the story).
Before you decide where to go or even when to go, decide how you’re going to go about finding a way to keep your costs reasonable.
Janice Waugh, publisher of the Solo Traveler blog (www.solotravelerblog.com), advises those traveling alone to create a Google alert with the words “single supplement waived” and the destination. If the single supplement is dropped for your choice of location and announced on the Web, you should receive an e-mail alert.
Several luxury and adventure travel outfitters have started offering packages specifically for solo travelers to combat the cons of traveling alone.
Adventure Life offers solo traveler trips to Galápagos, Belize, Peru, the Amazon, Argentina and Patagonia (www.adventure-life.com/tours/solo-traveler-departures) and has eliminated single-supplement fees on these special packages
SingleEdition.com has an entire section devoted to solo travel (www.lat.ms/ckttck) as well as discounts from travel providers. Many spas, resorts and hotels post packages and special promotions for singles on their websites, including girlfriend getaways and solo golf retreats. “The deals are out there—and so are other singles—and you can find them by visiting the destination’s Internet site or signing up for its newsletter,” says founder Sherri Langburt.
Tour companies will often waive the single supplement if you book far in advance. Check their policy, and even if it isn’t stated, request it. “They might be willing to work with you if they’re concerned about filling a given tour,” says Beth Whitman, author of “Wanderlust and Lipstick: The Essential Guide for Women Traveling Solo” (Dispatch Travels, 2009). “A tour company will also be happy to connect solo travelers with each other. The trick is to book early and let your desire be known and be clear how important it is to you to share.”
Finding a travel buddy is another way to beat the single supplement. Whitman suggests that you first ask a friend to join you on a trip, whether it’s a cruise, bike tour, organized trek or some other adventure. “Friends you’ve traveled with before (and whose company you enjoy) are ideal, but don’t forget about their friends,” she says. “And, of course, these days we’ve got social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, where you can beam a message out and find someone in an extended network. Don’t be so desperate that just anybody will do. Make sure it’s a good fit so that your trip doesn’t end up being miserable.”
Stick with operators that cater to solos. Companies such as Singles Travel International, Bikini Bootcamp, Las Olas Surf Safaris and Escape to Shape will pair you up with a pal.
Or you can circumvent the single surcharge by sharing a room with someone you don’t know.
Diana Edelman has roomed with strangers and never had a problem. “Rooming with someone you don’t know opens you up to new people who typically have similar interests like traveling,” says Edelman, a Washington, D.C., publicist. “I have made some great friends that way, and it’s cost-effective.”
But not everyone is willing to give up his or her privacy.
“Sharing a room with a stranger is too much of a crapshoot,” says Gray Cargill, a Vermont-based travel blogger (www.solofriendly.com). “You never know what kind of person you’ll wind up with. Even in a best-case scenario, where the person is perfectly normal, she might snore. I’m a light sleeper. I have a hard time sleeping with someone in the room with me, especially a stranger.”
Safety is an issue for all travelers, but it’s a greater concern for solo travelers and even more so for solo women travelers.
With today’s modern technology — iPhones, iPads, Skype and others — you never have to travel alone.
A new iPhone application could come in handy for solo travelers. It’s called IcePics (In Case of Emergency Pictures), a personal security application that allows users to quickly snap and e-mail a photograph with the touch of one button in a potentially threatening situation. The photo and GPS location, which includes a link to a Google map of where the photo was taken, are automatically e-mailed to contacts pre-selected by the user.
BJ Gallagher, Los Angeles author of “Why Don’t I Do the Things I Know Are Good for Me?,” says she has the ideal solution for traveling solo — Fannie, her dog. “My small [24 pounds] half-chow/half-Pekingese loves road trips and is the perfect hotel guest as well,” she says. “We hike together, go shopping, order in room service when we’re tired, and do all kinds of tourist things too.
“Best of all, cute dogs are people magnets. Traveling with a good dog is the perfect way to meet lots of new friends in new places. I am never lonely when I travel with Fannie. When I’m not talking to her, I’m talking to all the people she attracts.”