New Ways to Make Single Traveling Easier

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The River Venture, one of the many river cruise ships that have single occupancy cabins, operated by Vantage Travel.
The River Venture, one of the many river cruise ships that have single occupancy cabins, operated by Vantage Travel.

A River Ship Built with Single Cabins, and in some cases, no Single Supplement!

By Max Hartshorne
GoNOMAD Editor

For many people who love to travel, not having a partner can present a challenge when booking a tour.

Kamila at the Sydney Opera House in Australia.
Kamila at the Opera House in Sydney Australia.

That’s because of the dreaded single supplement, that sometimes-hefty extra fee that comes when you’re not sharing one room with two beds for two people.  But Vantage Travel has figured out a way to minimize these fees, and in some cases get rid of them altogether for solo travelers.

For a single traveler, this can mean the difference between being able to afford to go, or not.  The Boston-based tour operator has invested in many other areas to make single travel a lot more affordable. We talked to several of their regular solo travelers about going it alone–single travel, and why they enjoy it.

Not her First Solo Trip

Kamila Barzykowski, 69, lives in Warwick, Rhode Island. worked for 25 years as a community planner for United Way of Rhode Island, and recently part-time teaching English as a second language.  As of March this year, she is fully retired. She’s taken two solo trips with Vantage, one a four-month cruise around the world in 2011, and then a cruise up the coast of Norway in 2014.

“My first solo trip with Vantage was not my first solo trip.  I had traveled by myself with several other companies before I started traveling with Vantage.

Super Excited

“So, for the trip around the world, I was super excited, and not at all concerned or afraid.  My experiences with Vantage have reinforced my positive feelings about traveling alone.

“My partner does not like traveling much, although he really did enjoy the two river cruises we did together.  So, although it would be great if we could share the experience of traveling, I’m grateful and happy to travel alone – as long as I get to travel!”

Using One Bed, Paying for Two

Kamila said that the supplement, meaning you have to pay for the entire cabin even if you’re only using one bed, made it difficult to afford the cruise.

“The solo trips that I did before I started traveling with Vantage, were land trips where the single supplement was still within my means. But I could never go on a cruise because there was no single supplement. You had to pay the cost of two passengers even if you were going alone.”

On the Vantage cruise around the world, the single supplement was only 30%, and the Arctic Circle cruise had no single supplement.  I was absolutely thrilled to be able to afford these two fabulous trips.”

The River Venture river cruiseship has two single staterooms, saving singles money.
The River Venture river cruise ship has two single staterooms, saving singles money.

The Best things About Going Solo

“For me,” Kamila told us, “the best thing about solo travel within a group is that I control what I do and when I do it, but still have the opportunity to socialize with people in the group when I want to. I’m a somewhat shy person and a little bit introverted, so I sometimes need quiet time to myself. Yet I’m also a person who enjoys being with friends and family, so having a group to share with is a wonderful thing for a person like me.”

Ships with Single Cabins

One of the other ways to accommodate more single solo travelers is in how the ships are built, for example on their river cruises.  They have built single-occupancy staterooms into the newest ships in the European fleet, like the River Venture, shown above, to make the cruise more enjoyable and affordable, for singles.

They also offer an exclusive ‘roommate matching service.’  You can be matched with a same-sex roommate and avoid the single supplement. If you don’t find a match, you only pay 50% of the advertised single supplement.

In addition, Vantage offers a “travel mates” program that brings like-minded people together before the trip, to coordinate travel on trips in the future, and to stay in touch with the many Vantage repeat travelers, who go year after year.

Vantage’s free service, exclusively for MyPortfolio users, is an online community where you can connect with like-minded people who share your love for discovery. TravelMates is a free service exclusively for MyPortfolio users.

Solo Women Travelers

Constance Gauthier, of Rhode Island, said sometimes the single supplement fees would put trips out of reach, but found Vantage's to be much more affordable.
Constance Gauthier, of Rhode Island, said sometimes the single supplement fees would put trips out of reach, but found Vantages to be much more affordable.

We talked with several other women travelers who, due to the death of a spouse, or a husband who just doesn’t like to travel, are looking for solo travel opportunities.

But like many of us, they’re not interested in taking on Europe or Africa all by their lonesome. No, they want to see these great places, but with other like-minded travelers.

Deanne Gerstel, of Cedarhurst New York, explained that while she’s happily married, her husband doesn’t have any of her wanderlust.  Her travels with Vantage made her feel “cared for, and comfortable.”

Penni Jenkins, a widow from Walpole, MA, is a dedicated traveler who has been on many Vantage trips. “They’re very supportive, and there are lots of planned excursions that make you feel comfortable without a spouse.”

“Why Not?”

Diane Gerstel says there are a lot of interesting people on Vantage trips, and she always feels very taken care of.
Diane Gerstel says there are a lot of interesting people on Vantage trips, and she always feels very taken care of.

Nancy Joy Brown, of Worcester Mass, is also a widow who used to travel regularly with her husband. When he passed away, at first she was reluctant to travel.

“For a while, I was reluctant to travel on my own, and then I finally thought, “why not?  I’ve always felt the groups I’m with so hospitable, and welcoming to me, and that’s part of why I find traveling with them is such a pleasure.”

Constance Gauthier, of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, said the single supplements can be very pricey, and it puts the trip itself right out of my range. When I heard about Vantage’s African Safari, and saw that the single supplement was doable, I was very impressed.”

Joanne Milnor, of South Carolina, said she lives on a strict budget, and the lower single supplements (and in some cases complimentary) is important to her.

“It’s given me the opportunity to meet other single people who have similar interests. The social aspects are important to me as a solo traveler.”

Making new friends among the single and married travelers on the trip.
Making new friends among the single and married travelers on the trip.

Have you ever considered a woman-only group trip?

No, I haven’t. Although I’ve enjoyed experiences such as Women’s Wilderness Weekend in Rhode Island and a week of summer camp for women in Maine, I enjoy being with both men and women.

What are the downsides of solo travel as an older woman?

I haven’t found downsides yet. I’ve traveled with friends, with my partner, and by myself – and all my trips have been wonderful.

What tips would you give someone considering taking a solo trip?

Kamila Barzykowski said, “If you would like to travel, just do it! Look through their catalog in print or online and see what strikes your fancy. Then just book it and go. Don’t worry about a thing!”

“Vantage gives you all the info you need before the trip. They pick you up at the airport, they take your luggage, they bring you to the hotel, they bring you to your ship, they bring you back to the airport when the trip is over.”

“Just relax and enjoy it. Also, the people traveling with Vantage are all really nice people. Whether they’re singles, couples, or friends traveling together, they’re very open and welcoming.”

People just naturally come together at meals, on excursions, at entertainments. You will have people to talk with and be with. You will not feel alone,” Kamila said in an interview.

Don’t Need All the Books!

“On the round-the-world cruise I had brought 19 books with me, thinking that I would be spending time alone while the ship was at sea,” said Kamila.  “Never happened! I made so many friends and did so many activities that in four months I only read one book!”

GoNOMAD received financial compensation from Vantage Travel, but the opinions expressed are the author’s own. Call Vantage Travel at 877-969-0430