For those who choose to travel alone, life on the road is improving. Gone are the days when solo travellers were banished to a tiny room under the stairs and then hit with a hefty single supplement. Now hotels and travel companies are actively courting single travellers.
Intrepid Travel is the latest to launch a range of solo-only tours after it saw a 24% increase in solo trip bookings this year, amounting to a 40% rise over the past five years. The new trips will start in 2018.
Their findings are not unique. Flight comparison website Cheapflights also reported a 18% rise in flight searches for solo travellers this year.
Solos only tours
Group tours have been popular among single travellers for some time – big names such as On The Go Tours, Journey Latin America, Insider Journeys and American Sky all have a significant number of clients travelling alone on their escorted tours. Most companies give clients the choice of paying a supplement for their own room, or sharing with another traveller of the same sex.
But for those who prefer to travel exclusively with other single travellers, there’s now more choice than ever. Specialists Solo Travellers has a variety of tours worldwide, including Asia, Africa, South America and some less-visited parts of Europe.
And Cox & Kings has its own solos-only tours, to destinations as varied as Russia, India and Costa Rica, all of which are popular with older single travellers. Growing demand meant Saga Holidays added a string of singles-only tours to its own offering for 50+ travellers.
No single supplement
This much resented surcharge often ended up pricing single travellers out of the market, near doubling the price they were asked to pay. But with more of us holidaying alone, increasing numbers of hotels and tour operators are abandoning the charge. For example, Mercury Holidays has a collection of long-haul and short-haul offers with no supplement.
The Mistral on the Greek island of Crete is a hotel for singles only, while The Body Holiday in St Lucia has both spacious single rooms and a month dedicated to solo travellers. Even the Maldives - a destination associated with honeymoons and romance - is courting the singles market, with no-supplement deals at selected times of year available through Barefoot Traveller.
Other specialist companies have slashed their single supplements. Examples include The Cultural Travel Company for European cultural tours, Rainbow Tours for gorilla trekking in Uganda, and Tucan Travel which has room share options on its safaris.
Eating alone is something that travellers often cite as putting them off venturing off alone – but some beach resorts have introduced the option of communal dining tables.
Breathless Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic has communal tables in four of its eleven restaurants, while spa and wellness resorts such as Kamalaya in Koh Samui and The Body Holiday also have the option to eat with others.
And while cruises have long had group tables in their restaurants, solo-friendly ships such as Norwegian Epic have a solos-only lounge as well as the various dining options on board.
From single travel forums on the internet to apps helping travellers connect, not to mention social media, it’s easier than ever to research your trip and meet people along the way.
And some travel companies are also using it to make single guests feel more at home. Breathless Punta Cana has its own guest chatroom if you’d rather strike up virtual conversation before taking it into the real world.
And Single With Kids, for single parent families, has its own online community for advice and to help keep in touch with those you met on your trip.
For more inspiration and advice on solo travel, visit 101 Singles Holidays