Travel is making a slow comeback, but it hasn't returned fully yet.
While tour operators are returning to the trail, demand is taking its sweet time to pick up. Cruise companies are laying on more ships, but they're still not sailing at full capacity. And though airfares and travel planning are on the increase, we're seeing a lag between the end of Covid restrictions and peak-season occupancy.
In a pre-Covid world, solo travelers were often slapped with a "single supplement"—which could be as much as double the fare—for the privilege of having a room to themselves.
Is the single supplement a form of discrimination? Heck yes, especially because solo adventurers consume half the resources of a duo. But travel sellers are realizing that one paying customer in a room is still better than a completely empty room, so across the travel industry a lot of single supplements are being waived while things return to normal.
That's why this spring is shaping up to be a great season for solo travelers—perhaps for the last time in a while, it's still a buyer's market.
For example, European Waterways, which has been organizing vacations on rivers and canals for nearly half a century, has decided not to charge single supplements on a variety of upcoming barge trips in 2022, including on the River Po in Italy, the Canal du Midi and Burgundy waterways (pictured above) in France, and in the Scottish Highlands. See the full list of eligible departures at the European Waterways website under "Special Offers."
Avalon Waterways is doing something similar on many of its European cruises; the eligible ones are listed here. Avalon's offerings are more luxurious than the average Continental cruise, so the elimination of the fee for solo travelers is particularly welcome here.
CroisiEurope, a river cruise specialist that is lesser-known in America but very popular with Europeans, will not charge single supplements on a host of its departures in March and April. See the list of eligible departures, which span Europe and Asia. The deal can only be booked by phone.
Upscale ocean cruiser Silversea hasn't eliminated single supplements, but it has reduced the fees to 25% above the normal fare.
Club Med resorts, which are mostly located in beach destinations, have been floating limited-time deals that include no single supplement. One such sale ended February 23, but Club Med is often throwing spot sales, so keep tabs on the company's Offers page to know when the perk returns.
We're seeing the biggest temporary bargains on and near the water. Operators of land-only vacations like group tours began getting more proactive about waiving single supplements even before Covid-19 came on the scene. That means allowances for individual travelers are easier to find than ever.
Trafalgar Tours, one of the best-known brands for coach tours, now maintains a Solo Tours webpage that is fully stocked with options for 2022.
Some companies, like the well-heeled Cox & Kings, set aside a few spaces on every tour that incur no single supplements. The company always waives the supplement for the first solo vacationers who book select tours, even outside of pandemic recovery periods. Because bookings are thinner this year, it's more likely solo travelers will be able to snag one of those sought-after spots.
There are a lot more options rounded up at TourRadar.com, which gathers info on tours worldwide and presents them on a single site. Some of the vacations listed never have a single supplement, even when times are booming, so it's a good resource for individual holidaymakers to bookmark.
That's just a sampling of the single supplement deals being offered right now.
If you're a solo traveler dreaming of an all-inclusive–style vacation (like a cruise, escorted tour, or resort) this spring, this is your moment—the spring of the missing single supplement. So check the vacation vendors in the destination you're dying to visit, and you just might find there's a deal for you that won't be there when the travel industry is back to full health.