I recently booked a dorm bed for my next solo trip. I noticed that the hostel is providing the pick up facility from the airport. As my flight would be arriving at midnight, I inquired and they asked me to send me the passenger and flight details. When they came to know that I was arriving solo they put a surcharge of 10$ for the normal fare. Well they have no valid explanation for the surcharge. Just said that they need to add it as per their policy. This surcharge is called the Single Supplement. You can also read the Wiki article regarding the Single Supplement here.
I believe that the travel industry is still following the traditional model that favors couples. I don’t usually travel through tour companies but I did some research and looks like there are only a few travel companies that have plans favoring solo travelers. Even the local activities seem to favor couples. I tried to join a local hiking trip which was being arranged from the same hostel I was staying in and guess what, I need a partner for that as well or pay more than the usual price. Now I have to find some stranded solo traveler like me who wants to go for the hike.
Solo travelers make up for more than 25% of the travelers. The travel companies are going to lose out on some potential customers if they are going to continue their discrimination towards solo travelers. While I do agree that most rooms in resorts are made for double occupancy and resorts might lose out on revenue if they give away those rooms for single occupancy but why is the supplement implemented even in transportation and local tour activities.
There are tour operators like Contiki who cater to 18-35 year old travelers willing to share their rooms. They also have reasonable tour packages that can help solo travelers who do not want to go through the hassle of paying single supplement for each and every thing. But the workload is more on the operators when they try to match up solo travelers to share rooms and sometimes the operators are blamed for the behavior of their roommate. That could be one reason why tour operators are hesitating to follow this model.
I am not sure if this discrimination is ever gonna end but till the travel industry decides to welcome a solo-friendly model, all we can do is fight our arch nemesis : The Single Supplement.
Negotiate Directly : Try to negotiate directly without going through a middle man. Email or phone them and try to get the best possible deal for single occupancy.
Travel during the Off Season : There is chance that you can get low rates if you travel during the off season. There are many discounts available during that time.
Find a Companion : You will find a lot of solo travelers on the road who are trying to avoid the single supplement same as you. Team up with them and cut your cost.
Make a self guided itinerary : This is something I always do. Make your own itinerary and see where you can save money.
Hostels are Heaven : If you are a light sleeper, then hostels may not be your thing but if you are a solo traveler then hostels are the best place to stay where you can share your room, make new friends and also it doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket.
Go Camping : Camp in scenic locations and wake up to beautiful sunrises. When was the last time you said NO to adventure?
I am sure the Single Supplement will not be stopping a Solo Traveler from seeking out new horizons but still wishing that the travel industry stops this discrimination.