Ask Away: More options for going solo

Eli Orzessek finds the answers to your travel questions.

I’ve also found that there is very little in way of trips for single people unless you join a group tour, and I would prefer to be able to do my own thing.

This will be my first time leaving NZ, but I don’t want to share a room with someone else as we may not get along if they are a rowdy, untidy, loud, drunk type of person, and in general not the type of person I would mix with.

Can you explain how these twin share rooms work and would you recommend I pay extra for my own room and not have to worry?

Also can you recommend any good holidays for a single male who doesn’t want to party 24/7 but get out there and see the sights. I have Canada and the Canadian Rockies high on my list, plus a cruise up to Denali National Park as a starting point.
Tyron Rix

It’s pretty exciting to be planning your first overseas trip — and it sounds like it’s going to be a big one! I feel you on the lack of options for solo travellers. I prefer my own company while travelling for many reasons — most of all, it’s just nice to be able to move at your own pace and follow your every whim.

I’ve received some advice from Sean Berenson, Flight Centre NZ general manager product, who says they’ve seen a steady increase in solo travellers over the years.

“Feedback from a lot of our customers is that travelling solo gives them the chance to indulge themselves fully; many who have previously never travelled alone often describe their first solo trip as invigorating and character-building,” he says.

Apparently one real growth area in solo travel is in cruising — which is great, since that’s an option you’re interested in. While many lines will charge extra for a solo travellers, others are choosing to cater to this market.

“Norwegian Cruise Line for instance, who cruise Alaska, recently launched their studio cabins. Running up to 9sq m, they are an industry first, specifically designed and priced for solo travellers. As a studio guest, you’ll also have access to the Studio Complex and Lounge. This is a shared private area where you can stretch out, have a drink, order room service, watch the big-screen TV and meet your neighbours.”

That definitely sounds like a good option for your cruise to Denali National Park. Also keep in mind that other cruise lines that don’t have dedicated solo cabins will often run promotions for reduced single supplements — however, these tend to be seasonal, so it’s a good idea to talk to a travel agent who can advise the best time to hook a good deal.

“The same applies for rail,” says Berenson. “The Rocky Mountaineer, for instance, last year ran its first promotion for solo travellers — Go Solo — which allowed for single travellers to pay the per person double occupancy rate. This was for limited travel periods though.”

As for group tours, I can also understand not wanting to share a room with some random — to be honest, I don’t even like sharing a room with a friend! Berenson says on small group tours you can also pay for a single supplement — or hedge your bets and hope for an odd number on the tour, so you’ll get your own room anyway. But this isn’t a guarantee.

“If you don’t go for the single supplement option most tour operators will try to pair you up with someone of the same sex and a similar age,” he says. “If you’re concerned about sharing with a stranger, contact your travel expert and see what kind of procedures the operators use to match roommates. Some pair people off at random, while others will make an effort to put complementary personalities together.”

Personally, I’d just pay the extra cash and get your own room — it’s your first trip, so you want to be as comfortable as possible. But if you do go for the sharing option, you may meet some like-minded travelling companions in the end.

If any readers would like to share their ideas for solo travel, please send them through. I’ll pass them on and publish a selection.

Email your questions to [email protected]
Eli cannot answer all questions and can’t correspond with readers.
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