Single Supplement : The Arch Nemesis of Solo Travelers

Single Supplement : The Arch Nemesis of Solo Travelers

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 Traveler

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.

84 thoughts on “Single Supplement : The Arch Nemesis of Solo Travelers

  1. Hi Gokul,

    I never knew this existed because I am always traveling with my wife. Weird. I guess from a booking angle they want the double-couple deal but it makes no sense to me.

    Ryan

    1. I am sure only solo travelers are aware of this. The surcharge for rooms is fine but when they charge for transportation and local activities, then it makes no sense.

  2. Love the solutions for the single supplement that you have provided. Camping is definitely a great idea. Hostels or even Airbnbs are a great way to meet people and make new friends.

  3. I hate those supplements, but you put out some good choices out there and one of my favs is to use public transportation or Uber for getting around

  4. I’m not sure I understand the rationale for a single supplement for a hostel bed in a dorm room. I guess I can understand a charge for an airport pickup for one person or for a single person tour.

    1. It is not a tour. Nobody would want to go for solo tour with a guide. I better explore myself. They are charging me extra for 15mins taxi ride.

  5. I think it’s a bit unfair for a hostel to charge a single supplement, even for a pickup. The single supplement is an issue that has been debated for a long time. WIth more and more people travelling solo, perhaps it’s time for tour companies to take a closer look at this.

  6. I agree, these are some great tips for solo travelers , who want to save some money and still see the World. There is a lot they can save along the way as they are traveling and figuring out cheaper ways to travel. First, it is always costly.

  7. Single travellers pay the price for travelling solo. There’s been many a time where I’ve discovered a half price offer only counts if there’s more than one of you going into an attraction. Package holidays almost always add a supplement for single travellers (unless they’re main business is solo travellers). It’s wrong and totally unfair.

  8. I’ve never heard of the Single Supplement, but have had something like this happen to me once before! I really wanted to go on a hike and a tour guide was required and it was nearly impossible to find one to take a solo traveler! Good tips on how to deal with the Single supplement though!

  9. I didn’t know this issue exist until you brought it up. I guess this single supplement thing can be more rampant in certain countries. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t deter adventurous souls like us from traveling!

  10. This is something I was not aware of. It is not fair on all concerned to tax the solo traveler because he is single. Travel companies need to come out with special packages to tailor made for solo travelers, as this is a segment that cannot be ignored.

  11. I do believe there are more and more solo travelers, and for one, I travel alone from time to time, whenever I was on a business trip, or I felt like to. There’s something that I could enjoy when traveling alone. 🙂 @ knycx.journeying

  12. I remember this from my younger travel days. I have to admit, I do understand it from the vendor’s point of view, as if the margin is very small per person, they may want to stipulate a minimum number for a given activity (such as a tourist excursion or a transfer) to make it worth their while. If I were them, I’d suggest that it’s not a single supplement but that the minimum number for that activity is 2 or 3 or however many. That way, if they have enough people, then there’s no need for the supplement, whether the group is made of couples and singles or whatever. There are definitely, as you say, some operators that tap into the vast market of single travellers and make it easier for them to travel without the dreaded supplement, by grouping them together themselves.

  13. We feel pretty lucky on this subject as we have travelled as a couple everywhere together. But we have seen this crop up quite a lot whilst travelling and it must be so annoying! We hope one day that travel agencies and companies put an end to this as it’s not fair!

  14. I have heard of this but haven’t ever experienced this when I have solo travelled. Like you, I find this really annoying and a bit silly for the solo charge. Hopefully it will change eventually!

  15. As a solo traveler, I can totally relate to these. It’s always difficult for me to find a companion but there is so many great apps and hotels even that I never really feel alone when traveling.

  16. Yeah, I know that cruise ships are usually pretty bad for this. They always charge so much extra if you’re traveling by yourself. It makes cruising more unaffordable unless you have a travel buddy.

  17. Single supplement makes sense for things like cruise ships, where the fare is per passenger, but most passengers share cabins. If only one person is occupying a cabin, then the cruise line is missing out on the fare of the passenger who might otherwise occupy the “unused half”.

    But for hotels, it makes no sense. They charge by the room, not the guest.

    In fact, if two guests occupy a room, often the cost will be higher to cover breakfast.

    In the situations you describe here, the single supplement is just gouging the customer.

  18. I have a feeling the industry is not going to change anytime soon because they still know solo travelers wont cease traveling despite the traditional discrimination. However you had some great points to help many save money while backpacking 🙂

  19. I’ve noticed this on a few tours I’ve looked into. From what I’ve seen, tours will sometimes waive the single supplement if you are willing to share accommodations with another single traveler. I am also a big fan of Airbnb!! It’s a fantastic place to find affordable and homey places to stay, and a great way to make friends along the way!

  20. I’d heard of single supplements on tour holidays if you didn’t want to share with another person but didn’t realise that it’s so widespread. I think I’d be taking your tips on board if I was a single traveller – hostels would definitely be the way to go. You’d end up paying so much more otherwise – it really is unfair.

  21. What! There is no way this is legal?! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this upcharge, but then again I have only traveled solo once. So disappointing.

  22. Hey, this is actually very new to me. I could not even imagine that something like that existed and now I failed to understand the reason or logic behind single supplement. Travel industry really needs to make some of the modifications because there are so many solo travelers. You have made many valid points to fight against it.

  23. I’ve never thought about this before as I always travel with my partner. I think the hostel idea is the way forward though because I guess thats the best place to find another travel to pair up and save some money. Hopefully the industry changes soon!

  24. Ugh…I always hate the single supplement! We usually travel as a couple, but it’s so frustrating to try and book something for one and then you find out you have to pay the same as you would for two. Good tips about how to work around this though–off season is a great suggestion for lower rates!

  25. I have travelled with friends or family members always. The Single Supplement does not sound fair. The tour companies who implement this are lacking compromise and consideration. There are so many people who are travelling solo nowadays. It would be a huge opportunity for the tour companies if they are willing to focus on the needs and wants of solo travellers.

  26. Interesting …I did not know of this concept. It sure seems like a great way to save money and travel well. Will definitely want to research this more. Thanks for the tips.

  27. These are great tips! The single supplement is definitely annoying. I enjoy traveling off season but I’ll consider negotiating next time too! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  28. first: I LOVE your photography! your pictures are amazing!

    I never understood why they charge solo travelers more; in some hotels single rooms are more expensive than double rooms, maybe cause they expect them to spent less money in the hotel?! It is really discriminating.

  29. Really interesting reading this as I usually travel with my husband so was unaware of this solo supplement but something I clearly need to consider when I do a solo trip later this year. Travel during the off-season is usually always a great way to save on trvel expenses, solo or coupled up!

  30. I think they are definitely getting better.
    I haven’t seem to have too much of an issue when travelling solo but know it does still exist especially in tours and hotel bookings.

  31. As a solo traveler I totally understand you on single supplements. The worst place for this is on a cruise, you pay the price for almost 2 people which is totally unjustifiable as how could you possibly eat and drink as much as 2 people.

  32. Single supplement seems like just another example of nickle and dime charges in the travel industry. This is one of my least favorite parts of travel, constantly fighting and observing for companies adding surcharges for random services. It has gotten to the point where I let Jenn book and don’t ask any questions about hidden fees just so it doesn’t bum me out when I am actually on the trip.

    1. Traveling as a couple might give you some relief over the surcharge, but you never know when some companies hike their prices out of the blue.

  33. We haven’t experienced being charged with single supplement because we travel as a couple. But we could definitely understand your position. The charge is both unfair and obsolete.

    When we travel, we usually book in low-priced hostels, dorm rooms, or homestays so we could save on expenses.

  34. I already travelled solo, but have faced single supplement… I know it existed some time ago but I thought times had changed and the travel industry had adapted. Or maybe, you were just very unlucky ?

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