Solo travel by air......might be one of the solo friendly modes of transportation...
As I started today's post on Does the Travel Industry Hate Solo Travelers, I began to think of what travel services are solo friendly.
1. Airlines: although I do not enjoy the procedure and process of flying, arriving 3 hrs early, checking in with a machine, wearing my heaviest clothing so I meet the one bag weight rule, security check in..... I don't need to elaborate, you have all been there.... the dreaded middle seat, hot plane, smelly carry on food, delays, we can all add to this list
With all their faults and costs, the airlines do NOT charge me more for traveling SOLO
2. Trains: I am not charged more for a train trip in Europe. Yes there are promotions for what I call the ark people, those traveling in two's or families but overall I feel I am paying the same as other travelers. Here in the USA, does AMTRAK charge solo passengers more? I was told by an AMTRAK traveler that you pay for a ticket and can purchase a roomette for an additional cost but she is NOT charged more for using the roomette solo.
3. Rental Cars, Ferry Trips, Bus Tickets: these are all priced per person. There may be discounts for the groups listed in #2.
4. Two for One Advertising: Next to the cruise lines this is one advertisement I receive several times a week that continues to infuriate me. The offer is often for package tours and cruises.*
5. Cruises: Perhaps the most offensive treatment for this solo traveler is the 200% solo supplement. Paying twice as much as other passengers must aggravate other solo travelers as well. On a recent trip several passengers expression dissatisfaction with the 'value for the price' they received as solo travelers.
*Cruises also offer 2 for 1 pricing but will not allow a solo client to pay the advertised price unless they bring another passenger.
VacationstoGo.com has a list of 'single' cruises (not hosted single cruises) on their web site. Often there are several very well priced sailing. "Or you can call for the solo price on any cruise listed", according to the CEO, Mr. Fox. I suggested to Mr Fox that changing the title to solo vs single cruises would be more appropriate. Solo is NOT always single.
Several of the cruise travel agents have started to post solo prices or solo promotions. Cunard has offered 'no solo supplements' and the river cruises had a special recently.
I have been forced to check weekly for prices that may have been reduced to level, where double the price might be affordable. Example: if the per day price is offered at $100 a day than the cruise will be $200 for a solo.....if the itinerary is one I am interested in and the ship has amenities I want (enrichment classes) than I will consider paying a 200% solo supplement.
6. Restaurants: Casual restaurants or diners (in the USA) seat solo clients with the only concern to leave a 4 or 6 seat table available for larger groups. Invariable I receive the same question when I enter or sit, are you alone?
On further reflection I expect the wait staff is not happy with a solo traveler......table used for the same length of time with 1/2 the return.
7. Hotels: Until I heard a comment from Arthur Frommer on his Sunday radio program http://bit.ly/SjF7hx I had not thought of hotels as having a separate policy for solo travelers.
Pricing: I checked Booking.com for prices for solo vs double rooms in a two cities. Booking.com: Rome on a Booking.com sample listed solo rooms at $10 to $20 less than a room for two. In Philadelphia the hotel room prices do not change for one traveler! Mr. Frommer is correct, hotel rooms are not solo friendly!
I will be doing more research on this.
8. Travel Agents: If you know of any travel agent who wants to work with solo travelers, please let me know. I understand commission sales (after 22 years) and working with one client limits your income.
Apparently solo fares on cruises and package tours must be priced with the supplier, by the travel agent. There seems to be NO central computer program that will supply a list of fares for a solo travelers on cruises. I search 100 or more sailings a week, looking for a fare that is 'affordable', once I double the advertised price.
Travel agents must not be willing to take the time to do this amount of work. They will email me or call me if they see something affordable that comes across their desks. Often I know about a sale before they do.
Are solo travelers more work for a hotel? For a cruise line? For a tour group? Let's address that next.