Despite being a fast growing (and high spending) proportion of travellers, solos are still often treated poorly. Here’s our solo travel manifesto!
No single supplement
We have heard the arguments. But why should we be penalised when we are more likely to eat in the hotel restaurant, to book a guided tour, to take part in extra activities? And we are able to travel out of season. So how about offering us supplement-free holidays, at least out of school holidays?
No inferior rooms
So, not only have you walloped us with a single supplement, but we then get the poky room that is the size of a broom cupboard. If you do charge us extra, then at least give us an equivalent room. Give us a discount if we are happy to take the broom cupboard. And give us a free upgrade if a better room is available.
Meeting us at the airport?
Then make sure someone is there when we arrive, and not 30 minutes or an hour later. By then we are starting to fret, but don’t have anyone to share the worry with, or anyone to watch our luggage while we go to the loo. I think the record for me having to wait on my own was two and a half hours in Sicily!
Woman waiting at airport (Shutterstock)
No tables for one
We don’t (necessarily) want to be hidden away. We don’t want to be seated at the other end of the restaurant to the couples and families. We don’t want to be given that tiny table next to the door to the toilets. So, ask us where we would like to be seated. And if there are other solo guests, perhaps see if we’d like to sit together.
At one stopover hotel, one helpful member of the staff actually stopped me striding into the main restaurant and bar, full of raucous people having a good time, and suggested I would be “happier” in their brasserie. That was a dreary room, scattered with several solos on their laptops or reading books, and with the atmosphere of a morgue. I insisted on going back to the other restaurant and eating at the bar.
Male backpacker admiring the view (Shutterstock)
No first night blues
On so many group tours there is nothing arranged for the first night. And if someone is getting a flight in a bit earlier than the bulk of the group, there is almost certainly no contact. Please, make contact with the first arrivals and suggest a possible meet-up and meal for the solos, and advise on a suitable place to go.
No rooms (or tents) out in Siberia
So, we are on our own, in a country that is unknown to us, and possibly feeling apprehensive. Why would you put us in a cabin, chalet, room or tent, that is the furthest away from reception, social areas and staff? In one Gambian hotel, my ‘lodge’ was the furthest away from the main hub, a good 10 or 15-minute walk along poorly-lit paths. On a camping safari, they had pitched my tent on the other side of a dried-up river bed - and fresh elephant and lion tracks - to the other guests. Neither organisation had even thought that a woman travelling alone might be uncomfortable in that situation.
Information for us on your website
Are you a travel company? Then we want to know whether you welcome solo travellers, whether you charge a single supplement, and any advice you may have. You may claim your group tours are supplement-free but if that is because solo travellers have to share, then state that. If we want to travel on a bespoke trip then tell us about drivers, guides, and advise on meals and things we could do in the evening.
If you’re a hotel, a lodge or a guesthouse, tell us if we’re welcome. Explain about any single supplements. Tell us about social areas, mealtimes, whether we are likely to meet our fellow travellers or not.
Inclusion, not seclusion
We don’t necessarily want to be dragged into activities. But we do want to feel equal to the couples, the families and the groups of friends.
Join Lyn Hughes (co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Wanderlust travel magazine) and Katy Colins (travel writer, author of notwedordead.com and The Lonely Hearts Travel Club books) at Intrepid Travel’s ‘Solo Travel Unravelled’ event on Oct 5, 2016 at the company’s Brixton offices. Register for your free tickets or find out more HERE.
Main Image: Solo traveller at sea during sunrise (Shutterstock)