Irene Croft Jr.
If you're determined to travel solo, single supplements for tours, cruises and hotels may push your travel budget into the outer limits. Exclusive occupancy of that ship cabin in the Mediterranean, that safari tent in Tanzania, or even that modest Manhattan hotel room will be dearly bought.
Assuming that two suppliers offer comparable quality for the trip you're planning, base your choice on the one that charges the lowest supplement above the per-person double occupancy. You will find that single occupancy of a double room is normally surcharged up to 100 percent. If you value privacy above price, you gotta pay.
As opposed to travelers who truly desire to globetrot on a solo basis, we'll define single travelers for our purposes as those who are alone but prefer to pair up either for companionship or economy. There are some viable options for these travelers without partners.
Your first step should be to notify your travel agent, friends and members of your civic and professional organizations that you're interested in securing a partner for a particular trip or for future travels in general. You can check out candidates for compatibility well in advance without making commitments that may prove awkward. Information will soon signal whether or not you and a potential travel mate will be well-matched.
Second, go online to www.solotravel.org, the leading portal on the Internet for single traveler resources. Follow the links to hundreds of trips and tips.
When economy reigns supreme and you're willing to share with a total stranger, several tour operators offer a "guaranteed share" basis. If they can't or don't pair you with a partner on your trip, you'll have the room or cabin to yourself at the p.p.d.o. rate. This can be a pretty good gamble for privacy if you're traveling off-season when others aren't.
The operators listed below are in the business of selling traditional tours but will offer guaranteed-share matches on specific tours limited to the compatibility factors of same-sex and perhaps age and smoking habits. Among some of the better-known mainstream operators for your travel agent to contact are Trafalgar Tours, 866-544-4434 or www.trafalgartours.com; Globus/Cosmos Tourama, 866-755-8581 or www.globusandcosmos.com.
A good lead for seniors seeking travel mates over 50 is to contact Grand Circle Travel, 800-959-0405 or www.gct.com. Ask about regular newsletters from this top senior tour operator, with a special section of personal listings by members who want to travel with a roomie. This company also offers single supplements at cost and on certain programs charges nothing for single occupancy.
Vantage Travel, 800-322-6677 or www.vantagetravel.com, a deluxe operator for escorted land journeys and river and small-ship ocean cruises, boasts "the best roommate matching program for single travel and the lowest single supplements on the market." For singlesoriented worldwide upscale journeys at affordable prices, top contenders include Adventures for Singles, in its 17th year, 877-813-9421 or www.adventuresforsingles.com, and 13-year-established All Singles Travel, 800-717-3231 or www.allsinglestravel.com.
For younger (under 55), more active escorted programs around the globe, ask your agent to check out Singles in Paradise, 800-954-5453 or www.singlesinparadise.com; O Solo Mio Tours, 800-959-8568 or www.osolomio.com; or Singles Travel International, 877-765-6874 or www.singlestravelinternational.com.
Cruise lines charge a substantial supplement, often 25 percent to 100 percent, over the share rate for single occupancy of a double cabin. Seasonally, from sailing to sailing, some lines — including the ultra-luxury category — charge only modest supplements for singles. Check out the Web sites of your favored cruise lines to determine their policies and special offerings for solo sailors. Ask your travel agent to alert you to special unpublished deals that may become available from time to time.
Solo Cruiser, 888-765-6278 or www.solocruiser.com, regularly offers single supplements at attractive reduced rates on certain cruise lines and itineraries.
Also check out Eleanor Berman's "Traveling Solo, 5th: Advice and Ideas for More Than 250 Great Holidays," published by Globe Pequot Press.
Irene Croft Jr. of Kailua, Kona, is a travel writer and 40-year veteran globetrotter. Her column is published in this section every other week.