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Single travel Q&A with Debbie Marshall

(41 Posts)
LaraGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 23-Jan-14 15:06:36

There’s been quite a bit of discussion on the forums about single travel so we thought we’d ask Debbie Marshall, of Silver Travel Advisor to answer your questions on travelling solo.
Debbie has over 25 years of experience in the travel industry, including at Crystal Holidays and Jetsave (where she was managing director until 2001) and, until 2010, at the helm of the award-winning villa specialist CV Travel, and its sister company Ski Verbier. She's a keen skier, walker and adventurer, and her favourite destinations, in no particular order, include Switzerland, the South of France, Corfu, the Amalfi Coast, the Caribbean and especially the British Virgin Islands.
In a bid to get over her mid-life crisis (and raise some money for charity), this February she will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
If it’s travel insurance, safety concerns or the thorny issue of single supplements, she’s sure to have the answer. Get your questions in by Monday 3rd Feb.

UPDATE: Debbie has now answered your questions (and also survived her Kilimanjaro climb!) Find out what she had to say here.

LyndaW Thu 23-Jan-14 15:58:03

Hi Debbie, I'm not planning on travelling on my own - not a good traveller actually. But my SIL would like to go on a cruise and was shocked at the single supplements being charged. Is there a way round this? Are there any reputable companies around who don't charge? How does the industry get away with this?

InvisibleWoman Thu 23-Jan-14 16:04:34

I'm a regular solo traveller, I hate single supplements and refuse to pay them, as in I won't book anywhere charging it.

The best holidays have been those where I've organised my own itinerary and travel, booking accommodation that charges per room and not per person per night. France is pretty good for this and I have a favourite hotel I keep going back to in the South (although I'm not prepared to disclose which one!)

sunseeker Thu 23-Jan-14 16:44:17

I too am fed up with single supplements. Isn't it time the travel industry started to cater for single travellers as there are now quite a lot of us?

A lot of single travellers are, shall we say, of a more mature age and as such tend to travel outside of the peak times. I would think that hotels and travel companies would welcome these people at a time when they are less busy. Why should I have to pay a supplement to stay in a room, which can usually only take a single anyway, and which is tucked around the back of the hotel overlooking the bins!

Galen Thu 23-Jan-14 18:07:39

I'm a regular solo disabled traveller and on the whole I have coped.
The single supplements are well over the top. The treatment I have received at Athens, Heathrow and Edinburgh airports left a lot to be desired. I have complained and been assured that this won't happen again. Watch this space.
I must say though I usually greatly enjoy my cruses.

ooma Thu 23-Jan-14 20:26:55

Has she heard about 5W an organization that supports women travelling solo in uk and abroad (Women welcome women worldwide)

trendygran Thu 23-Jan-14 20:39:36

Earlier tonight I tried to book a National Trust break in September. This proved impossible because Single Rooms are not available and a twin room is not possible to book because "the numbers don't match" !! I am SO TIRED of being discriminated against because I am on my own. I did .
NOT choose to lose my DH ,but am made to feel like an odd one out by holiday companies.WHY?

Grananncan Thu 23-Jan-14 22:45:30

I have done a lot of holidays with companies such as Exodus . They will match up 2 single women (or men )who are prepared to share a twin room. Of course you could land up sharing with someone who you really don't get on with. I have come across other people who have had this problem but over the last 10 years I have shared with some great ladies.
I now ask if a holiday company will do this because they don't always advertise that the fact that they do and they can always say "no".

Gally Fri 24-Jan-14 06:09:37

Trendy doesn't that make you spit angry.
Recently widowed, I haven't plucked up the courage to do any single holidays yet, but it might come to that! What I would like to ask is about travel insurance for lengthy trips away. I have always been covered by the RBS automatically but had to extend for each trip longer than 6 weeks at a cost of £120, so last year I took out an annual insurance with Direct travel which covered me for journeys of no more than 63 days at a time. I wanted to extend my visit to Australia recently and for an extra 2 weeks they quoted me £148 which is not very far short of the annual premium!! Are there companies which would cover me, aged 65, for trips of over 6 months at a time. Saga gave me a good annual quotewhich gives a 90 day trip which is better but perhaps I would have to take a single insurance to cover for one long trip? It is all very confusing - perhaps you could enlighten me..... Can you also tell me why the journey has to start in the UK? I suggested to Direct that as my policy was about to expire, I could renew it with them a month early, thus giving them an extra month's premium, it it was not possible as I was out of the country! I had great pleasure in telling Mr. Stuffy Citroni that I wouldn't be doing business with him in future....(apologies for long windedness!)

Stansgran Fri 24-Jan-14 08:16:20

I also object to the single supplement where you are given a dusty box room and have paid extra for the privilege. This happened to two friends travelling together but who do not want to share. Others in the group who had single supplements had double rooms. This tour was provided by a company which advertises in the top newspapers.

kwal Fri 24-Jan-14 19:17:30

I am off on a trip down under soon, solo, and am a little anxious as I am now disabled but am used to travelling alone. I have booked flights, accommodation etc. all separately rather than pay for an organised tour with single supplements. If it wasn't for those I would probably travel more often, especially in Europe. Watch this space!

Nergard Sat 25-Jan-14 11:43:43

I have seen special offers on cruises and if two go the cost is £600 each person and when I enquired about a single the price went up to £1800. How can they justify that. Friends suggested I book for two then turn up at the ship saying my friend couldn't come and that would be cheaper!

Marthajolly1 Wed 29-Jan-14 16:53:07

I am newly single and will be 64 very soon. I love travelling and have no problem with going solo. I would like to take a cruise but as I have never done this before I'm looking for some hints and tips.

jaguar Thu 30-Jan-14 12:05:05

Hi Debbie
I'm quite keen on travelling but am not very good at just lying on a beach and watching the world go by. I'm quite fit and able and have had a very blessed life so far so am thinking I would like to give something back if possible. Without wanting to go anywhere too extreme or dangerous, I was thinking about volunteering perhaps? I like animals and do have some teaching experience so perhaps working with disadvantaged children? Are there any organisations you know about and could recommend?

BlueBelle Fri 31-Jan-14 13:05:47

I ve been on my own a good while and have done some short holidays in UK arrange by myself I m a bit shy so I m quite happy to potter around sightseeing shopping on my own but would love something were I can be a bit more sociable over an evening meal and perhaps a drink I find the evenings difficult on my own

I too am VERY cross with the single supplement it is so unfair

cw28 Fri 31-Jan-14 14:38:43

Hi Gally

Had to reply to your post, being widowed myself, albeit for 14 years now. It took me a long time to do a singles trip. First one was a weekend away that was not successful mainly because I was still in a bad place. However I wanted to see the world and went for it on a Singles holiday to Kenya, then a year ago with another singles company went to South Africa. Both incredible life changing experiences. It wasnt cheap , however both were very well organised and accomodation was fabulous , lovely big room all to myself. Bonus too is the company of other single people and as a result I made new friends both times. Although you think these trips are expensive, you do not really spend much as everything really is included. I would say go for it , when you feel ready to live your life. Good luck!.

BigG Fri 31-Jan-14 15:59:09

I was widowed in March last year & took the plunge in September to go to Prauge with One Traveler . Very early some may think well it was the best thing for me & I've booked two more trips with themfor this year . Every detail was taken care of excellent accommodation & the tour guide was wonderful just go for it you may surprise yourself & never look back.

nog50 Sat 01-Feb-14 09:40:17

This April I'm going on my first single traveller holiday to Italy with Leger. It's a coach tour which I know could be quite tiring as it's a long way but this was the only one that I could afford! I too object to paying extra for a single room, it limits us single travellers when it's a big world out there and most of us can't afford to go where we would like to go!These companies always say that there is no single supplement but of course there is, it just isn't itemised separately! I'm looking forward to it nonetheless and will meet other people travelling alone, everyone will be the same, no tagging on with couples or groups of friends, making me feel like a spare part. I do have friends but most are married or with partners, other single ones I wouldn't really want to go on holiday with hmm!!! If anyone out there has been on a Leger trip please let me know what you thought about it, hopefully I won't be put off!

sgam Sat 01-Feb-14 10:38:53

I'm hoping to travel either to Japan or India on my first solo holiday and on both destinations it looks like I'm going to have to pay a 'single supplement' which as everyone else has commented on as being very very unfair

annodomini Sat 01-Feb-14 10:48:00

When I was younger and fitter I went with Ramblers Holidays to various parts of Europe. Several times I opted to share with strangers - some more successful than others - and a couple of times with a friend. Other times I stumped up the single supplement. These holidays were the best I've ever had. Everyone had something in common and even though a lot of them were couples, we singles were never made to feel like spare parts. We visited lovely places that tourists rarely see. And I always came home fitter than when I left, albeit with some spectacular blisters!

GeminiJen Sat 01-Feb-14 17:14:16

Hi Annodomini
I agree with you re Ramblers hols. Like you, I've been on a few where I've opted to share with strangers and, with one exception (a really loud snorer!) that has worked out well.
As you say, everyone has a shared love of walking, which gives you something in common right away.
Also like you, I'm no longer quite as fit as I was, and I'm currently looking at the new Ramblers brochure, Adagio. As far as I can see, this caters for amblers rather than ramblers...which is where I'm at right now!

Another option I've looked at, but haven't done anything about as yet, is the Thelma and Louise site. This aims to help women to get in touch with other women with similar travel aims.

I'd be interested to hear Debbie's views on these and other options.


Claire58 Mon 03-Feb-14 10:29:30

Like many of the others I have yet to embark on a trip on my own but I am determined to do it sooner rather than later. Aside from the supplements what concerns me is the safety element - not having anyone to look out for me, people taking advantage of a woman on her own - that sort of thing. I would appreciate some tips and reassurance.

malki Mon 03-Feb-14 10:31:09

As a woman travelling alone do you think it's better to do the holiday I (think) I want to do or find something organised specifically for singles (not in the amorous sense more lone travellers)?

nog50 Mon 03-Feb-14 12:07:42

Hi Malki
I'm in a similar position and have opted for an organised single travellers holiday as my first holiday on my own. I have travelled long-haul alone several times to visit family but have always been met at the airport and taken back for the return journey so have had no problem with that. I find going somewhere new totally on my own a bit daunting and would prefer to be guided around by someone who knows where they are going! Anyway, it's more fun having other people with you even if they start off as strangers, most people are sociable enough in that sort of situation, better than trailing around on your own for a week or more. I'm hoping that my trip lives up to expectations. I will report back in May!

jcdoh Mon 03-Feb-14 12:32:35

hi jaguar
yours starts very much as I would have said ; but I haver never ventured alone, sharing an experience, and laughter, is the only way I see holidays ! But for me -most of my friends are couples, and I couldn't go as a spare -lol also quite a few are not as fit ;
besides which we all age differently, and it sounds like we are both doing well, my one problem is deafness -- oh dear! this causes me embarrassment and creates tiredness if in large crowds; due to continual stress of listening.

however there are places I would love to visit, Italy, Florence . Tuscany, Rome again as the first was long ago and fleeting, Spain, Barcelona, also Malta, I shall look into these sites mentioned here with hope!
thanks everyone. ps 64yrs or 75