What are single supplements and do you have to pay them?

Esther Shaw / 24 February 2016

If you've travelled alone, you may have had to pay a single supplement. What are single supplements? Why do travel companies charge them? Are they fair?



Solo travel is a growing market, with a particularly big surge in demand from the over-50s who are among some of the most independent when it comes to taking holidays.

Those travelling alone include the single, divorced or widowed, as well as those leaving husbands, wives or partners behind to go off exploring new cities and countries on their own.

Tips for travelling on your own.

Single supplements

If you have ever travelled alone, you may have been faced with the annoyance of having to pay a 'single supplement'.

Having to fork out the 'privilege' of travelling solo can feel frustrating – not to mention downright unfair.

It can seem as though you are being penalised for holidaying on your own.

Should you go on separate holidays if your partner has different interests to you?

What is this charge?

A single supplement is a premium charged to people who take a room alone.

Put another way, it is a premium paid for the 'luxury' of not having to share a room.

Why do single supplements exist?

With a traditional package holiday, a tour operator would charter an aircraft and book a set number of double rooms in a resort to fill it. As singles didn’t fit into this business model, a supplement would be applied.

Similarly, hotels have traditionally provided services on the basis of people travelling in pairs. Since they charge per room – not per the number of people – solo travellers will pay proportionately higher prices.

In addition, hoteliers and cruise ships will view singletons as less profitable, as only one person will spend money on food, drinks, goods and entertainment where there could be two people spending money.

Top 10 singles holidays. 

Times are changing

While this trend has left solo travellers feeling as though they are having to hand over extra cash just for the privilege of enjoying their own company, there are signs that things are changing.

In fact, now that tour operators can arrange bespoke packages using seats on low-cost airlines and bed banks, it is easier to find single rooms and pass on savings.

As a solo traveller you will be pleased to know that the range of holidays that don’t have single supplements is getting better all the time.

Paul Lewis' guide to spending money abroad.

Look for offers

Some package companies now offer reduced-price or zero-cost single supplements outside of peak travel season.

Other tour operators have negotiated with hotels to offer discounts on double rooms, and no-supplement deals throughout the year.

Equally, a growing band of specialist solo travel companies now offer itineraries tailored to cater to singletons which omit 'single supplements' altogether.

Avoid hidden holiday costs.

Tips when travelling alone:

  • If booking at low season, call and ask for the single supplement to be waived.

  • Check out tour companies offering trips aimed at single travellers where you can opt to share a room and cut costs.

  • Bear in mind that booking a single room may be a false economy. You may find you end up with a small room with a single bed and no view. You may be better off paying for a double room.

  • Consider a cruise, as some cruise lines now offer single cabins on board to avoid you having to pay out for a double cabin.

  • Safaris, overland trips and special-interest trips also tend to have a high percentage of solos.

Browse our travel articles for more tips and inspiration.

Saga's singles holidays 

Whether it's meeting new people or travelling with a friend but preferring your own accommodation, nothing is too much trouble on Saga's singles holidays.

We offer a variety of singles holidays, from exploring a fascinating escorted tour, sailing along Europe’s famous waterways or taking an ocean cruise, our wide selection of holidays means we have a getaway to suit everyone. They're all incredible value for money because we include so much in the price, with no hidden extras.

With more than a fifth of our customers travelling on solo holidays, we've liaised with our hotels to try to provide as many additional single rooms at no extra cost as possible, on as many hotel stays and tours as we can. 

Our river cruises have hundreds of single cabins and with a wide selection of single cabins, even single suites, on our ocean cruises passengers don't have to compromise on private accommodation either.

We've also been voted Best Large Singles Holiday Company at the British Travel Awards 2015, for the third year running.

Find out more about Saga Singles Holidays.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.