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Traveling solo doesn't have to cost extra

By By Sharyn Alden, Contributing Writer
Published On: May 16 2011 04:10:39 PM CDT

If you've ever fantasized about taking a trip by yourself, and bypassing the drudgery of finding the right travel companion or waiting until it's convenient for a friend to go with you, you're not alone.

Solo travelers of all ages -- single, married, divorced, and widowed -- are finding that solo doesn't mean going to a destination just to spend your vacation completely alone.

Many people, particularly solo women travelers, like the feeling of safety in crowds when they hook up with travel groups that specialize in solo journeys.

If that sounds like you, consider solo travel opportunities in the company of groups to faraway destinations like Greece via groups like Solo Travel.

So many travelers are now trying the solo route, there are opportunities for just about any solo experience you can dream up, from solo camping groups to solo cruising and solo hiking tours for women.

You're probably wondering, if your modus operandi is to go by yourself, why go with a group? In one word, money.

Independent travel, unfortunately for those who like to go solo, can be a costly conundrum. If two people share a hotel room or stateroom on a cruise, they'll usually pay less than if one person takes a cruise or stays at a hotel without a roommate.

That single supplement can be pricey. On a trip to China, a recent traveler hooked up with a tour group to take advantage of the English-speaking tours. The single supplement for 10 days and 9 nights, which included all meals and hotel lodging without a roommate, was about $1,000 more than what travelers who booked the trip as double occupancy hotel space.

Which is why it pays to connect with travel groups that are oriented to single travel.

Safety concerns are other reason why you might consider going alone but traveling in a small group. You'll probably lower the chances of being caught in a calamity if you travel with other people around you.

Budget Stretchers:

If you pick up the phone and book a week's cruise or a getaway at a resort, you'll probably pay that notorious extra single supplement fee.

Here are some ways to get around it:

Travel with a small group. Odysseys Unlimited, a tour company that takes travelers to destinations around the globe, limits the group size to 12 to 24 participants.

Some travelers don't realize that they can ask for a roommate, which will get the cost down to double occupancy. Here's how it works. Odysseys advises travelers to tell them you want to be put on a list of potential same-gender roommates. If someone else calls and also is going to the same destination at the same time, they give each of you the other's contact information. Keep in mind that the tour company does not make arrangements between the two parties. It's up to the two travelers to decide if they would be compatible.

All of the above may work for cruises. Ask if the company can give you contact information of another interested solo traveler. Try to avoid a tour company or cruise line pairing you with someone you have not talked to before you leave home.

Look for solo packages on cruise ships or at resorts.

Look for airline packages on airlines' sites.

If you have a frequent flyer card or frequent hotel card, contact the airline or hotel to see if they have special packages for loyal customers like you.

Don't forget to check with organizations you belong to like university alumni groups, AAA, or professional organizations. These groups commonly have solo travelers. If they don't have special prices available, ask them to put you on a list of travelers looking for a travel companion.

No matter when you go, solo travel offers plenty of rich rewards. Solo travelers by definition are usually happy to be left alone when they want to be, but they usually find a good mix of companionship during their journeys.

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