Dodge the sin­gle sup­ple­ments

If you go on a solo trip, a tour may charge you a sup­ple­ment. So how can they be avoided?

Sunday Star-Times - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

The new year saw a flurry of book­ings for cruises and tours, as peo­ple (rightly) as­sessed their lives and strived to travel more.

For cou­ples or groups, the cost of travel is smoothed slightly by be­ing able to eas­ily di­vide by two or more and ben­e­fit from bulk dis­counts – or even just be­ing able to share a main at a swanky din­ner in Paris.

For sin­gle trav­ellers there is no such luck. In­stead, they are more of­ten than not stung with what is known in the in­dus­try as a sin­gle sup­ple­ment. This fee is passed on to tour com­pa­nies or travel agents by ho­tels and cruise lin­ers when a room is booked just for one trav­eller, but the in­dus­try pric­ing stan­dard is based on two peo­ple shar­ing aka ‘‘twin share’’.

This added ex­tra, thank­fully, is not cal­cu­lated by just dou­bling the price for a sin­gle trav­eller oc­cu­py­ing a dou­ble room, but even the usual 30 per cent sup­ple­ment can dras­ti­cally dent your spend­ing money. Even when book­ing a sin­gle oc­cu­pancy room, these are never ex­actly half the rate of a dou­ble oc­cu­pancy room (due to fixed costs), so opt­ing for tour op­er­a­tors, ho­tels or cruises that scrap or re­duce the sin­gle sup­ple­ment can prove lu­cra­tive.

This is ex­actly what one reader, Ann Kidd, wrote me about re­cently. Ann is look­ing for a tour or cruise op­tion that avoids this charge, but won’t also lump her with a ‘‘room­mate who snores and ru­ins the hol­i­day’’. Fair call. Who wants that?

Slowly but surely travel com­pa­nies in New Zealand are fol­low­ing the lead of United States and European equiv­a­lents and com­pet­ing on the sin­gle sup­ple­ment charge – or in the case of at least one bou­tique travel agent, flag­ging it al­to­gether.

Waikato-based agency, Travel for So­los, has tours and hol­i­days for sin­gles, wid­ows or those who just can’t con­vince their mate to join them over­seas, many with­out this ex­tra charge.

An­other op­tion, if look­ing to join a European tour or trans-At­lantic cruise, may be to book through the grow­ing num­ber of United King­dom-based solo trav­eller-cen­tric op­er­a­tors and agen­cies.

Cruise com­pa­nies like Cu­nard are aware of the grow­ing num­bers of (mainly older) solo trav­ellers who don’t want to bunk up with a stranger or pay a sin­gle sup­ple­ment and have geared fresh ren­o­va­tions to­ward more sin­gle cab­ins.

European river cruise com­pany Uni­world has also come to the party in 2017 and is cur­rently of­fer­ing more than 200 cruises with­out this dreaded fee for solo trav­ellers. If you feel like get­ting in­trepid, tour com­pa­nies which use hos­tel, camp­ing or non-tra­di­tional ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion are more likely to ditch the sin­gle sup­ple­ments as the fee is passed on by the cruise and ho­tel com­pa­nies. Email if you have a travel is­sue you’d like Josh Martin, a Lon­don-based travel jour­nal­ist, to write about.

There is a grow­ing num­ber of solo trav­ellers who don’t want to bunk up with a stranger or get stung fi­nan­cially for chos­ing to do so.

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