1. What is solo travelers’ biggest problem?
The largest challenge single travelers face is getting a fair price. Solo travelers have typically paid a large penalty known as a “single supplement”.
What can make this worse?
I found out on a tour and river cruise of China some years ago. As one traveling alone, I paid a hefty $7,500. Couples and pairs paid $5,000 per person, 50 percent less than I did! Just wait! When I arrived, I found out that couples/pairs that were offered early booking discounts, they paid only $2,500 each. When I did the math, I could see that I paid 300 percent more than they did!
How did this get started?
- It has been a long time practice in the traditional travel industry to charge for tours and cruises based on bookings for two.
- As a result, individuals in the past were required to pay up to fifty percent more than couples/pairs paid per person for the very same trip!
- In recent years, there have been three improvements as those that travel alone have become a huge force: (i) Single supplements have tended to come down. (ii) Many tour and cruise operators now offer trips with a limited number of bookings with no single supplement. (iii) Select trip operators will, upon request, match solo travelers of the same gender share to avoid a single supplement.
There had to be a better way!
Here at Solo Trekker 4 U we decided to do something unique so that travelling alone need not mean an excessive fee. On Sept. 15, 2020, we launched a free, patent-pending solo travel search tool. Our new software is easy to use to identify and connect directly with providers offering travel based on no to low single supplements. SoloTravelPricingTracker.net.
Take a look at this revolutionary way to search for solo travel based on the pricing method! It offers you two different ways to search. The first search tool is focused on tours and cruises in three categories: (i) By location, (ii) By trip type and (iii) By pricing style.
The second, separate search tool is focused on hotels and lodgings.
2. What are other ways for single travelers to save on travel?
While all travelers want to get low priced airfares, this is not a charge that penalizes solos since pricing is per person. We are always looking for creative ways to save.
Here are some of our personal recommendations:
- Travel off-season, and pay fifty percent less!
- For special beach and ski resorts, go the last week before they are closing.
- Avoid the high cost of meals out. (i) Visit the nearest minimart for “covert” breakfasts, snacks, bottles of water or even samplings of local wines! (ii) Pack a picnic with the help of the local deli or full-service grocery. (iii) Make lunch your main meal of the day. (iv) Take advantage of “pre-fixe” or early set-priced dinners.
- Take public transportation, and create your own self-guided tours.
- Shop like locals for gifts and souvenirs.
- Don’t forget to look for discounts from students to seniors, auto-clubs and professional associations.
3. What are the best ways to have a solo vacation that feels more “authentic”?
Here are our favorite ways to get a more authentic feel for a foreign destination:
- Volunteer with a charity, environmental group or humane society abroad. I took this route for my first trip abroad. As a teenager, I joined five other girls to participate in a “Y” project in Trinidad and Tobago. We stayed with local families, worked at senior centers and as camp counselors.
- Offer an English language or other class for students of all ages. I had explored this route to spend a year in Nairobi, Kenya, when i was in grad school. Unfortunately, my plan failed since the travel and other costs would have exceeded my small student budget.
- Find a way to house sit/house swap, pet-sit or be a nanny for young children.
- Seek out “the road less traveled by”. These are all trips I have taken: Swap out your plan to ski in Switzerland with Andorra, a tiny nation in the Pyrenees. Try an island trip off Senegal and Mauretania in the Cape Verde islands. Visit Rarotonga and Aitutaki rather than pricier Tahiti and Bora-Bora.
4. Why is travel insurance even more important for single travelers?
- Accidents can happen at home and abroad. Not every incident is a real emergency. I have been robbed at high noon in a major capital abroad and stranded in Europe abroad for eight days at 9/11. As a result, I always buy travel insurance when traveling abroad.
- Beyond theft and loss of property, currently Cancel for Any Reason policies is the best choice. The reason? Cancellations by airlines and travel providers are commonplace after the travel freeze resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, travelers, including solo travelers, want to have the option to cancel even if it is simply based on the fear of travel.
- Even young travelers can have an accident skiing or driving. Insurance is key to cover medical costs. (One caveat: If hospitalized abroad, you may have to make payments daily rather than await insurance payments.)
5. What are the best ways to avoid emergencies travelling solo abroad?
I started solo travel during my early student days. I have been to all fifty of the United States and about 68+ countries. While I am a fan of adventure travel, I have managed to see some very remote parts of the world. I have navigated low-grade civil wars, Cholera and Swine Flu epidemics. In Zimbabwe, I was rescued at the last minute from feasting crocodiles! However, most solo travelers will not face such challenges.
Here are a few ways to avoid catastrophes abroad:
- When operating mopeds, cars or sports equipment abroad, be aware that jet lag and being in an unfamiliar place can make accidents more likely.
- Watch out for unregulated public transportation where safety inspections may not be frequent.
- Keep a distance from political and other demonstrations.
- Enjoy your trip but make safety a priority by knowing what health conditions are and best ways to dodge pickpockets and more serious crime. On travel, I always wear a referee’s whistle on a wristband and a money belt hidden under my waistband.
- Before you leave home, find out what drugs and prescriptions for personal use are legal at your destination.
- Have a daily electronic check-in with friends or family.
- Plan access to emergency funds as needed.
- Have a Plan B of how to get home in an emergency.