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Why does it cost more to travel solo?

Dear Anita,

For a few years now, my daughter and I have been traveling together, but with her classes, boyfriend, etc., I feel this might be coming to an end. My travel agent says it can be just about as expensive to travel by myself. How does that figure? Can you help me here?

Thanks for your time.

Love to travel,

Diane K.
Duluth, MN

Dear Diane,

The bane of the solo traveler is the single supplement, a fee he or she pays to cover the unoccupied half of his or her accommodations. Sometimes this fee can be an additional 200 percent!

According to the Travel Association of America (TIA), single travelers account for 21.8 percent of all travelers. Luckily, the travel industry has taken note of the high demand for solo travel, and penalties are being eliminated on many cruse lines and tours. Solo travel is becoming more affordable than ever.

Here are some ways to minimize the single supplement, or get around the extra cost of traveling alone:

  • Plan your trip with a travel agent who is familiar with issues faced by single travelers. The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) can help you find an agency near you that specializes in singles travel. If there isn't an agency in your area, ASTA offers a travel request service on its site to help you find an agent who can assist you.

  • Work with a tour packager that has the power to find you the best deals. Companies like Saga Holidays, which caters to the 50-plus travel market, offers no-supplement tours on some packages.

  • Join a singles travel club. There is power in numbers, and singles tour packagers can often leverage no-supplement rates from hotels and cruise lines. Connecting: Solo Travel Network, for example, is a club with solo-friendly holiday options without expensive single supplement charges. Members can also share reader reports, tips, etc., and for free, can post travel companion ads.

  • Look into "matching programs." Some cruise lines like Holland America offer a "single share" program, which can help you find a roommate so you can cruise at the lower double-occupancy rate. Understand that you do not have a choice in roommates, and you risk being stuck in a small cabin with someone who you are not comfortable with. If no one can be found, you get the double-occupancy cabin at half-price.

  • Travel during off-peak season. During the winter months, resorts and cruise lines have excess capacity, and often forgo the single supplement penalty.

I hope I've been helpful. Happy travels!

Anita Dunham-Potter

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