/ Travel & Leisure

Travelling solo – why two minus one doesn’t always equal one

One pair of flip-flops in the sand

There’s no denying that having to pay more to holiday on your own is frustrating, especially when it costs, on average, a third more. But can we really blame the travel companies for our need to go solo?

The dreaded single supplement has been the bugbear of solo travellers for many a year. And it’s no myth.

When Which? Travel went online to compare the price of some package holidays to Tenerife for one versus two people, the results showed that solo holidaymakers would pay on average 27-36% more for their holiday.

Yet hit the online travel forums and opinion is clearly divided as to whether these sometimes supersized holiday prices are fair.

Solo travellers want choice

As a newly single holidaymaker (cue the violins!) I set about researching solo holidays for Which? Travel with added interest. I was pleased to read that I am certainly not alone when it comes to travelling solo – in fact my fellow solo travellers accounted for around one in ten holidays taken between June 2010 and 2011.

More interestingly, nearly one million of the 3.3 million solo travellers during the same period were non-singles taking a trip without a partner.

I was also comforted to read that I wasn’t the only one whose ideal holiday didn’t involve an organised trek across the Atlas Mountains with other singles. Instead, like the majority of other solo travellers, sometimes I just fancy a sun, sea and sand package holiday.

However, packages through mainstream tour operators tend to be family and couple focussed so when I discovered the additional cost for travelling alone I wasn’t too surprised.

The big solo debate

As I continued my research it wasn’t long before I came across solo holidaymakers debating the matter of single supplements. Was this an outrageous penalty fare imposed by hoteliers/tour operators, or a simple case of pure economics – after all, if you buy a tandem but ride it by yourself you still need to pay for the whole bike, right?

When searching for my own holiday I found my search was more time consuming compared with finding a holiday for two. How could I find out how much extra I was paying without comparing the single and double price of every holiday, and why did there appear to be fewer holidays available to me as a solo traveller in the first place?

That’s not to say that it’s all doom and gloom. My research helped me pick up lots of helpful tips, like travelling out of season and speaking directly with the travel agent to try and track down the best prices. I also went on the hunt for solo offers and managed to secure a special offer holiday with no single supplement.

So what do you think about single supplements and the choice of holidays available? Have you travelled solo on a mainstream holiday and how do you go about finding the best deals?


Council tax makes the same discrimination. Single person gets a 25% discount when there can be 4 times the amount of people living next door!

When I was single, the holidays I went on were for just short breaks to see friends/go to gigs and I found that if you book everything separately, things turn out a lot cheaper. Dunno if that’s the case these days though, they certainly are more expensive than I remember

I have no problem in paying a supplement if I an using a twin or a double room for one but I don’t see why I should pay extra to stay in a room only big enough for one person

Easyjet are currently advertising 100 holidays for £100 each released every Friday however it seems impossible to book one of these holidays for one person and when the website says ‘one left’ what it actually means is one holiday for two people left!

I often go on holiday alone and am sick of the single supplement which often ensures I am given a room much smaller and grottier than those travelling with a partner.

A word of warning for people to stay away from ebookers.com

£8 charge for a debit card, £26 for a credit card, a really poor website that allows you to submit orders even though their backend payment process was down. I rang ebookers and they can search on my card number to see if any payments are made, so they keep your card details after you’ve submitted too.

Sorry bit of a rant, but don’t ever use ebookers, the worst holiday booking site I have ever come across, they’re not exactly alone either. I’m now leaving everything to my partner as I am raging to much!! 🙂

You could say that you will not make a booking if the company charges a fee for using a debit card. That has worked for me and in one case (concert tickets) the charge for debit cards has now been dropped. Obviously this will not work with a website, but that is not the only way to book a holiday.

I can understand why companies charge extra for credit cards.

ebookersservice says:
21 September 2011

There is actually no fee applied for debit card usage and for payment by credit cards there is a 1.5% charge capped at a maximum of £30.00.

Payment details are retained securely as with any other company and all data is retained and disposed off within the legal framework provided by the Data Protection Act.

As for the booking system allowing you to submit an order when the payment processing system was down I’m not really sure what this means. I presume that you submitted a reservation which failed either as a result of your bank declining the payment due to lack of funds or the supplier/ebookers being unable to process the payment from the card you supplied.

If you contact us via our main service page one of our team will be happy to assist you.


Hi Dean, while this is an annoying situation, it’s not really relevant to this Conversation topic. Can you remember to try and stay on topic when posting comments – something we do ask for in our commenting guidelines. We do have other Convos about surcharges where this might have been more relevant, for example:
Thanks, Hannah

regardless, look at the reply from “ebookers”, absolute rubbish. “There is actually no fee applied for debit card usage” go to the website and try and book with a debit card, that’ll be £8!!!

Considering I had already spoken to the customer service line and escalated to supervisor, a response like that is indicative of this awful company.

But yes in future, no worries, hardly a massive deviation from the topic though….

Not exactly the same but 2 years ago my friends and I booked a package holiday abroad for a week in the sun. The holiday consisted of 2 people to an apartment (as they couldn’t hold more) which wasn’t a problem as we had an even number of people going.

After booking it however, another friend expressed interest and much to my surprise – I couldn’t book another room at the same hotel for just one person, even if paying the full room rate. To this day I still don’t understand the operators excuse; ‘we cannot book this apartment for only one person’…despite the fact we offered to pay full price. Madness.

That is terrible! Maybe they reckon on making more money in add-ons – like meals/drinks etc – if there are two people in every room instead of one? Not that that makes it right of course!

I don’t think single supplements are fair either. Especially since you are using less water, soaps, hotel biscuits, towels etc etc!

There are so many more ‘single’ holidaymakers for all sorts of reasons and for years I have suffered this unfair supplement. It is high time the holiday world recognised this need for single holidays and got its house in order.

Graham says:
25 September 2011

I had a great solo holiday back in August when I went on a P & O cruise to the Baltic on Oriana from Southampton. Yes, I had to pay a hefty single supplement (about £700 as I recall) but if you want to see the sights this world has to offer that’s what you have to do! I found fellow passengers very friendly and it was easy to start conversations at meal times.
I don’t blame the cruise companies for wanting supplements like this – the ship was full long before the sailing date, and my cabin could easily accomodate two if that’s what the company had wanted to do.
I’m a person who doesn’t want a partner or ‘room mate’ when I travel and ships cabins ( and hotel rooms for that matter) are designed to get the maximum return for the owners.
I can only suggest that single people try and book early to get any single cabins/rooms that are available.

in most cases you sill have to pay a single suppliment even if it is a single room or cabbin and it is normally to small and has no view we are treated as second cass citizens in most cases

Christine says:
28 September 2011

Havingbeen on my own for several years (yes violoins at the ready!) I have avoided holidays as they always attracted a ‘single supplement’…sometimes adding as much as a third to the overall cost. I am extremely lucky however to hav efriends in USA who put up with me a couple of times…So you could saythat at least when I do go on holiday – I have a terrific one. That being said I have recently explored thw ‘single’ holiday market and used SOLO & Just You for holiday – Both were very well organised and I was extremely lucky in thatthe group of people I met were fabulous company – This year however both companies single prices seem to have increased by 20-40%…so I will again be looking very carfeully at other options before booking anything.
On a more esoteric point, where holiday companies / travel agents ‘refuse’ to book just because you are a single person occupying a double room (and if you hav eoffered to pay the fullk price) doesn’t this fall under some kind of discrimination on their part…and lets face it, single people over 50yrs are now the major ‘money spenders’ around……so maybe they should start listening to us –

Delighted to see in this months issue that WHICH? have taken th eplight of single travellers on board –

Pauline says:
6 February 2012

I am single and have holidayed with two different singles holiday companies, not only are they more expensive but they are also limited in choice of destination, times, flights etc. UK breaks are also limited I’d love a week in Cornwall or Wales for example but they just don’t do many if any weeks in the UK, unless you’re a pensioner, I’ve only just turned 40.

I am currently looking for something in July but I know I am looking at about £1200 for one week, by the time I have paid for the holiday, flight supplement to fly from the Midlands, transport to the airport, spending money etc, if I were part of a couple I could get a week in the sun for half that price easily. I actually found this forum as I was looking for singles holidays review.

I’m single and would love to go on a cruise and other holidays. But I refuse to pay for this con. If I am a single person using a double room then that is fair enough because a company is losing one person’s fee and I’d be happy to pay. But where is the justification of being charged more when you are put in a single room ? I wish someone could explain this. Travel companies and hoteliers should stop this rip off and shoving us in tatty box like rooms . We need to vote with our feet and refuse to use those who discriminate against us

Joy says:
14 May 2012

I accept that cruise lines have to cover ‘fixed costs’ and that some single supplement is inevitable. However cruise lines seem especially bad at this. I paid a supplement of almost 80% to cruise with Swan Hellenic in March 2012. This included flights out and shore excursions. The brochure also showed That I would have been re-imbursed 20% of cost if I arranged my own flights. This suggests that the company were not paying anything for my shore excursions (unlikely). Having written a letter of complaint and asked them to tell me how they worked out their single supplement, they managed to avoid answering me. So it looks like another company off my travel list unless I can get a good last minute deal.

all travel companies need to recognise that single travelers are not second class citzens and have to be treated equelly , no suppliment for a single room and the room has to be just as good as any other room. people think because you are single you have more money we pay more for just about every thing in life

Franca says:
15 June 2016

I am so frustrated with single supplements!! Found Hawaii at $1250 per person,,
single went to $2400…ridiculus .
One person pays for 2 and we cannot do it, one salary versus 2 salaries… Even $1500 would have been reasonable.

Hotels should start looking at how to find solutions for this…they are losing business. We will go where there is no supplement or at least a smaller supplement.
And the number of single travellers keeps increasing over time.
Let’s be realistic, we use less toiletries, water, towels, etc.. only 1 breakfast when included etc., etc….

And yes, cruises are the least accomodating on single supplements, just like the Hawaii package.

Thank you


Try AIRBNB.COM Fantastic cheap acc and well vetted and safe. Just look it up,you will be glad you did.

I have no problem in paying a supplement if I am in a double or a twin room but I don’t see why I should pay extra for a room that is only big enough for one person

New Malta Eco Tax introduced 1st June 2016. Just come back from a weeks holiday in Malta and looked up the daily “Eco Tax contribution ” added to hotel check out bill.
Quote from Malta news:
“The contribution will consist of an income of 50c per tourist over the age of 18 years, capped at €5 per visit, starting from June,”

We were charged €1 per day for all 7 days of our stay. I’m not moaning about being overcharged €2 over the maximum but wondering if every tourist is being charged for their whole stay, paying over double the cap for a two week stay. Any one else stayed in Malta this summer noticed this eco tax on their check out bill?

Colette says:
3 October 2016

Newmarket Holidays charge single supplements for single rooms, and don’t apologise for it. Unfortunately I had already booked three holidays with them so went along with it but would think twice about booking with them again.