Travelling Alone and Loving It
Today the High Street Travel Agent is no longer essential if you want to book a wonderful holiday at a price you can afford. And if you are single, which can prove a problem, this is probably the best way to go. You can find flights at a fraction of what might be asked for by someone getting a commission and you can seek out hotels which do not charge you extra for a single room. Most holiday firms will be able to find you someone to share with who would also prefer not to pay the enormous single supplement, and they seems more than ready to help if you contact them direct and ask them to.
Admittedly, that way you do not get a choice of room mate, and you might hate each other on sight, but it really is highly unlikely. And in this great new world where most places do not allow smoking it is very unlikely;y that you will be forced to share with a night-time cigarette addict. If they snore it won’t be a problem, because you will have remembered your earplugs and won’t be able to hear it (unless they snore like my friend Andy, who sounds like a chainsaw right around any house he sleeps in!).
If you are prepared to give yourself several hours to surf around finding the ideal break, and then follow it up with e-mails to the companies, you will probably be delighted at the results. Last year I contacted a small Swedish company who did not mention single supplements and asked them about them, to be told that since I had asked so nicely, no, there was not one, and I could have my own room at no extra cost at all.
There are companies which advertise holidays for singles, but they are not necessarily at single prices. If you look carefully at the on-line brochure you will see that two singles comes to a great deal more than two sharers. Of course, there are holiday companies, notable among them Saga, who offer ‘No Single Supplement’ and this is genuine, but then you are committed to spending your break with people who are all over 50, and, though I am, I do not seek to avoid younger people. Life is made up of people right across the age range, and I, for one, do not choose to live in an ‘age ghetto’ on holiday. When I was within the ’18-30′ age group, the idea of a holiday with only people of that age horrified me.
So you can find holidays, or hotel rooms where you are not expected to find a partner. Of course, when booking a flight this is not a problem. It is no cheaper to fly with a partner than without – and you will certainly be able to find cheaper flights than the Travel Agents offer you if you are prepared to go on line and do a bit of searching. Don’t be put off by the first and second find you have proving to be far more than it said initially. It does not take long to find the site where the flights are actually how much it says, including taxes. And don’t be put off by the idea of electronic tickets. They work – it saves a lot of fuss, and I have never fallen foul of one.
Some airlines allow you to book in on line too. That’s great. There have been occasions when I have found a bulkhead seat with oodles of legroom for myself this way. If you are single it is no fun being trapped in the inside seat with a couple who are bulky and asleep. It pays to get an aisle seat unless you never want to leave it. It really does! And if you want to talk to your companion, and they want to talk to you, that’s fine, but it is better you are not trapped next to a window, through which most of the time you can see nothing, listening to someone who could bore for their country.
If you are going to almost anywhere, the flexibility of only having to respond to your own whims can be a real advantage. You don’t need to book hotels in advance. This allows you to find a place and love it and stay longer, or equally, allows you to find a place, spend one night there and know you want out of it right now! Somewhere like Australia, or the US it is great to be able to change your mind. This is where having a rail rover ticket with no restrictions as to when you move on comes in really useful. And travelling alone there will be no arguments about whether or not to go. (Except in India, where trains are so comprehensively booked up in advance, it really pays to have a good idea of when you want to move on. But then I would not recommend travelling India without a companion anyway, to be truthful. It’s a wonderful but very challenging country, and when you get sick – and you will – it’s essential to have someone to lean on!)
I have been travelling alone for some years now, and would recommend it wholeheartedly. You meet some lovely people, can do exactly what you like, when you like, and feel totally free. For me that’s what holidays are about, freedom. Although I must confess that I have real reservations about travelling in countries where I don’t speak the language all on my own. That’s where the travel company comes into its own for me. But that’s another story.