By Katherine Lawrey – May 2018 – 6 minute read
Solo travel is soaring in popularity, with operators across the board doing more to attract single customers. Whether it’s scrapping single supplements, solo-only resorts or group tours designed to bring solo travellers together, travelling alone has never been so easy.
More than 40% of G Adventures’ UK customers last year were solo travellers. The group tour operator doesn’t charge solo supplements, meaning single travellers are not penalised – but they are paired with another solo traveller to share a room. There’s a chance, however, your client could have their own room, if the numbers work out in their favour.
“The opportunity to explore off-the-beaten track destinations in a small group, while making meaningful connections with like-minded travellers and local communities, makes us increasingly popular with the solo market,” says Brian Young, Managing Director at G Adventures.
He adds: “The safety and security that comes as part of travelling with a group is particularly important to our female travellers, who make up over 60% of our UK solo numbers.”
G Adventures’ tours tend to attract all ages, from twenties to fifties, but if your clients are that bit older and want a similar age group then consider Collette. In February the company reported 25% of forward bookings for 2018 had been made by solo travellers.
And clients willing to share a room with another solo traveller won’t be charged a single supplement. Alternatively, look out for ‘no single supplement’ offers, which are on the increase.
Great Rail Journeys is one operator that, from time to time, release these, with around 15% of its customers single travellers. Tours currently on offer with no single supplement include a Grand Tour of Switzerland; the Italian Riviera, and India’s Golden Triangle and Tiger Safari.
Alex Roberts, Group Marketing and Sales Director, says: “An escorted group tour with Great Rail Journeys is certainly not a couples-only affair! There is always a social atmosphere on our group tours and the freedom to be as involved as the customer prefers.”
Fly and flop (or not) for one
The default suggestion for single travellers is usually an escorted tour, but there are other options. “Many single travellers want a ‘normal’ holiday: sun, sea, relaxation and our house parties provide that, in a sociable atmosphere with the support of our hosts,” said Colum McLornan, Managing Director of Friendship Travel.
Some cruise ships are targeting solos - Norwegian Cruise Line has studio staterooms on five of its ships and offers hosted bar crawls for solos to break the ice, and Cunard’s recently remastered Queen Mary 2 introduced 15 single staterooms.
Singles Specialist Just You has a range of options like city breaks and beach holidays.
Health and wellbeing addicts should look at September Solos, a month when the BodyHoliday resort in Saint Lucia offers additional activities and hosting for solos, which brings a spike in individual bookings.
The Maldives Mirihi Island is running a solo travel special until September 30 which removes single supplements. Solo guests can enjoy sunset sailing trips, whale shark safaris, yoga classes, football and the weekly beach cinema.
I fancy spending Christmas somewhere different, somewhere more exotic than the English village where I grew up.
But I don’t want to spend it on my own so I book an escorted tour, for the company and the seasonal cheer.
On the way to the airport I start to balk at the thought of Christmas with strangers and missing out on my mum’s turkey and all the trimmings, but it’s too late now!
Three days later, on Christmas Eve, I find myself in the company of 16 other like-minded souls, squished across three tables in the dining car of an overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
Coloured paper chains criss-cross the ceiling, electro-pop music is blaring from the speakers and the cold beers are plentiful. It’s not long before we are dancing, and the train bounces along in time to the music.
This is the night that bonds us, and when we wake the next morning, after a night bundled in our train bunks, I swap Christmas greetings with new friends.
We celebrate New Year’s Eve in a homestay in Vang Vieng, eating traditional Laotian food and swapping national games and songs with the villagers. There’s no wifi to wish friends and family at home a happy New Year, but I don’t feel lonely because our group now feels like one big family.
Titan attracts solo travellers by offering low single supplements on its tours and cruises, from £100 to £300 across a range of cabins on Titan’s exclusively chartered MS Serenade 1 throughout 2018 and for 2019 the operator has increased its selection of long-haul holidays reserved for solo travellers, to the likes of China, Sri Lanka, Morocco and Vietnam.
Galapagos, Ecuador, Transylvania and the Inca Trail head the 12 new tours that Just You has launched for 2018 and 2019.
Highlights of the 15-day Galapagos tour, from £6,599pp, include seeing giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island and hiking up Sierra Negra Volcano.
Just You has also introduced a range of walking holidays, helping clients explore Cyprus, Malta, Spain, Nepal and the UK on foot.
Riviera Travel has a new China tour aimed at solo travellers. The 16-day tour, priced from £3,399pp, will depart March 19 2019 and will cover the country’s highlights such as the Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Warriors in Xian, the Chengdu Research Base of giant panda breeding and a Yangtze River cruise.
Age no barrier to adventure: Clients with an appetite for adventure may be tempted by Saga’s Ethiopia tour: An Antique Land for Solo Travellers. It will feature spectacular scenery and an array of cultural treasures. The 12-night tour starts from £2,699pp, including Heathrow to Addis Ababa flights, 11 nights’ accommodation, 33 meals and a VIP door-to-door travel service. Departures are on October 10 and November 14, 2018.
On the river: Riviera Travel has two new dedicated river cruises for solo travellers this year including the Blue Danube River Cruise for Solo Travellers. The eight-day tour on the Oscar Wilde is from £1,299pp. Departing November 1 it includes guided tours of Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest, a classical quartet recital onboard and a cruise through Austria’s scenic Wachau region.
Best foot forward: For clients who are keen walkers, Ramblers Walking Holidays has no single supplements on a range of holidays such as the seven-night Walking the Moselle Trail in south-west Germany. Prices start from £1,075pp on selected dates in July and August 2018, with all transport costs included and half-board accommodation at the Hotel Karl Noss.
Where to book it
Titan has a small group solo departure on October 17, 2019 for a 12-day tour In the foothills of the Himalayas. Travelling from Delhi, the group will explore green pine forests and tea plantations; visit the spiritual centres of Amritsar and Dharamshala, and take the Himalayan Toy Train from Shimla to Kandaghat. The lead-in price is £2,699pp, based on single room occupancy.
G Adventures’ new 10-day Sailing Greece tour sails around the Cyclades. With a maximum group size of eight sleeping aboard a 52ft catamaran, the flexible tour starts and ends in Mykonos. A skipper is in charge at all times so no sailing experience is necessary. From £1,129pp excluding flights and meals.