solo travel

mycompass.ca

Q&A


By Ilona Kauremszky


Q: I am a divorced 39-year-old male and am finding myself in the position of traveling alone. Are there companies that cater to people such as myself? I suppose I could pay a single supplement however I am curious to know if there is another option. My preferred places of travel are Central and South America, Greece, Morocco and Spain. Could you suggest some websites or companies that may be of assistance?

A: I recently met a young woman from Michigan sipping on a glass of red wine leafing through Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons" at an open trattoria near the Vatican in Rome. The night air was perfect. The stars were out and she was certainly solo. "Do you like traveling alone?" I asked her. "Well I've done it twice before and really love it. People think you need to take an organized tour and hang out with friends who may not be interested in what you would like to see.

For instance, I went to Pisa on my own, and am now tossed between Florence or spending more time in Rome. I wouldn't be able to do this with a group," she noted.

According to StatsCan, more than 1/3 of Canadians 18 years and over were pegged as single in 2003. While recently a new poll by Fodor's Travel found four in 10 Americans have done leisure travel alone in the last three years. Some of my closest friends insist on traveling alone.

It's their opportunity to explore the world and meet new friends at the same time. They come back with a list of new email addresses and today have reunions in different parts of the world. One of my friends on her last solo trip to Cambodia reunited with her group in the Big Easy, New Orleans to reminisce.

Here's a handy check list of pointers when planning solo travel: Ask your tour operator about doubling up in a room as this cuts down on the cost since many packages cater to couples you'll find there are extra single supplemental fees added. You'll also find some tour operators will offer special promotions where they waive the single supplement.

Ask friends if they know anyone in your host city. This is a great tie-in to meet a local and can help you get your feet better planted on new ground. Travel during off-season as you'll not only get the benefit of cheaper rates but avoid the bevy of crowds around the Duomo in Florence or the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Visit sites like www.singlestravelintl.com where you can sign up for their free newsletter. Rated by Travel and Leisure Magazine in April 2004 as the "Choice for Singles Traveling Worldwide," this US-based company around since 1995 offers a plethora of tips, links, specials and lists tours based on such sublinks as "Singles Cruises," "Singles Scuba," and Singles Adventure." All their cruises and tours are escorted so you won't have to worry about getting lost. Independenttraveler.com is another helpful web site that has a grab bag of travel info for the single traveler. There are sublinks such as air travel, car rental, lifestyles, money and insurance and much more.

Pick up a copy of solo travel expert Sharon Wingler's book, "Travel Alone and Love It: A Flight Attendants Guide to Solo Travel." Although published in 1996 by Chicago Spectrum Press (ISBN: 1886094357), you can probably find a copy in a second hand bookstore or specially order a copy at your favorite bookstore if not in stock. Wingler has provided tons of helpful travel tips that she has culled over her 26 years as a flight attendant.

I also consulted Steve Gillick, President and CEO of the Canadian Institute of Travel Counsellors (CITC) who has offered up a menu of suggestions. Adventure tour packages generally offer no supplement as long as you are willing to share accomodation. Although these types of tours tend to be organized, there is plenty of free time to pursue individual interests. "Friends are made quickly amongst the group as travel is the main shared interest.

The average age of many adventure groups ranges from 35-55," offers Steve. Adventure tours are popular in the Central and South America including Morocco, Spain and Greece.

For more information contact Trek Escapes at 416-922-7584. For the soft adventure route, you can visit your preferred travel agent.

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