5 Easy Tips for Saving Money on Solo Travel

Oct 1, 2016

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

“Double occupancy” — a phrase that strikes fear and annoyance into the hearts of many a deal-seeking solo traveler. And when tours, resorts and cruises aren’t running at full capacity, paying a single supplement for a spot that would have otherwise been empty — and generating no revenue at all — seems downright unfair. If you’re planning on taking a solo trip anytime soon, follow these five easy tips so you won’t have to pay extra for that phantom travel partner.

1. Negotiate a Better Rate

By now you should know that a phone call and some pleasant words can get you further than any amount of savvy Googling. If your dream vacation is advertised as a package for two, call up and see whether the tour operator can do right by you as a solo traveler instead. Gently point out how your being there — even at a cut rate — is still money in their company’s pocket, especially if you’re looking to travel at a less popular time of the year. After all, a half-filled room is more lucrative than one that goes empty, and for an all-inclusive package, that’s also one less hungry mouth they’ll have to feed.

2. Be Adventurous

The upkeep of a room in use — as in maid service, laundry, etc. — is an oft-cited reason for the single supplement since it costs the same in overhead no matter if one or two people are staying in the room. Enter adventure travel, with its hostels, tents, shared hotel rooms and other inexpensive accommodations, often charged on a per-person basis instead. G Adventures, TrekAmerica, The Clymb and REI Adventures — yup, from the popular outdoor retailer — have a number of off-the-beaten-path options that won’t cost you double, as long as you don’t mind roughing it a little.

3. Consider Taking a Group Tour

A number of tour companies have caught on that there’s money in solo travel and cater specifically to it. More than half of the travelers on group tours by companies like Contiki and Intrepid Travel go it alone and end up meeting new friends in the often-shared accommodations along the way; Intrepid Travel, which caters to clientele of any age (rather than the strictly 18-to-35-year-old policy of Contiki), will only charge a single supplement if you simply must have your own room (Contiki works the same way, as does G Adventures, mentioned above). Overseas Adventure Travel, on the other hand, bills itself as “the leader in solo-friendly travel” for adults 50 and up, promising no additional charges for your own accommodations, while Exodus Travels earmarks certain weeks of its international tours for single travelers at the same per-person rate.

4. Cruise for Less

While singles cruises have been a thing since The Love Boat, several cruise lines have more recently begun building ships to better cater to solo clientele. Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and Holland America all have boats featuring studio cabins specifically designed for parties of one, with no extra fee for booking. Norwegian’s offerings are most robust — with five of its large liners equipped with solo-style cabins — and include a Studio Lounge with a daily happy hour just for those staying in them. Meanwhile, Holland America’s Single Partners Program offers a same-sex roommate service in which you pay the double-occupancy rate even if no roommate is found, as well as a plethora of mingling opportunities just for solo travelers. For those over 50 who prefer a cozier boat experience, Grand Circle Cruise Line seldom charges a single supplement on its small ships and river cruises.

5. Double Down on a Good Deal

Sometimes, a vacation discount is so good or a points offer so valuable, you’ll do better paying the double occupancy rate than trying to find a trip without the single supplement. As you might imagine, this is most likely to happen if you travel off-season or snap up a last-minute deal — something that’s ever-so-much easier when yours is the only schedule you have to contend with. Even still, it can’t hurt to make a phone call, too, just in case.

Do you have any tips for saving money on solo travel? Share them in the comments, below.

Want more content on personal finance? Visit Credit Intel, American Express’ financial education center.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.