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What to expect when travelling on a tour as a solo

Georgina Smith / 20 September 2016 ( 10 May 2017 )

Being a solo traveller doesn't mean you can't see more of the world. Read our top tips and insights for travelling on a tour by yourself.

Lady walking along the Great Wall of China
If you've never travelled solo before, the best way to launch yourself into it is to take an organised tour.

Many reasons to go alone

There's no doubt about it: solo travel is becoming more and more popular. No longer are the soloists amongst us pitied as companionless hangers-on or avoided as social anomalies.

Solo travellers are now a force to be reckoned with; tour companies cater to them, and other would-be travellers envy them. But why?

Travelling by yourself on a singles holiday means you can see the world and enrich your life with extraordinary experiences – free from the shackles of familial flocks, perspiration-inducing partners and frustrating friends.

A vast choice of destinations and holiday styles lie at your feet – and depending if you're an introvert or extrovert, you can keep to yourself or throw yourself straight into a highly sociable setting where it's almost impossible not to make new friends.

Discover a selection of holidays designed specifically for solo travellers. Find out more here

An organised tour

If you've never travelled alone before, the best way to launch yourself into it is to take an escorted tour.

There are a number of companies that specialise entirely in singles holidays, and many of the large, trusted tour operators will dedicate a number of departure dates for solos alone.

More good news is that some tour operators won't charge a single supplement and others will keep their supplement to a minimum.

Before you go ahead and book your first foray as an independent itinerant, it may be handy to know a bit more about what you can expect.

Here are some top tips and insights to take the trepidation out of travelling by yourself on a tour.

Discover our huge variety of expertly planned escorted tours and river cruises that take you to a world of fantastic destinations. Find out more here

The single supplement

Often considered one of the great injustices of the travel world, the single supplement seems to penalise those who can't, won't or don't want to travel with a companion.

Related article:

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

Read more

Unfortunately for hotels and cruise ships, the space and resources needed to service a room occupied by only one traveller is the same needed, or thereabouts, for a room occupied by two people. 

This cost is then passed on to tour operators and, in turn, passed on to the customer.

Dedicated solo tour operators generally won't charge a single supplement – but their prices may be higher.

And operators that do charge a single supplement may offer special offers and discounts for solo travellers – so it's worth shopping around to see where you can get the best deal.

Sharing rooms: how much do you value your down time?

A tour operator might try to help you avoid paying a single supplement by seeing if you'd care to share a room with another member of the group.

They'll ensure it's someone of the same sex, and even the same age group – if you speak to them in advance.

If you plan on spending minimal time in your room, and instead will be up, showered and out the door at the crack of dawn – and back, just before bedtime – then sharing a room might not be so bad.

But if you love an afternoon nap, given the chance, and need a quiet bolthole to recoup in after an exciting day of non-stop sightseeing and socialising, then it's probably worth paying the extra supplement to secure your own little sanctuary.

Size of groups

The size of solo tour groups vary. Some operators offer tours for as few as 10 people, which is perfect if your tour has a special focus such as art or archaeology – since smaller groups allow for more discussion and a closer shared experience, including with your expert host.

At the larger end of the scale, some operators offer tours for up to 50 solo travellers. Though these may often be geared towards a younger crowd and may involve a lot of hopping about by coach, from tourist hotspot A to tourist hotspot B. 

Relax together on our hand-picked group holidays, perfect for friends or family wanting to get away for a stress-free group trip. Find out more here

Who might you meet?

Who you're grouped with on a tour, whether it's a dedicated solo tour or a regular one, may seem like potluck.

But different operators tend to attract different demographics. So if you'd prefer a more mature crowd, find one that caters to older travellers.

Related article:

How to make friends on holiday

Read more

If your ideal tour is action packed and full of physical activity and adventure, find a tour operator that specialises in these types of experiences; whilst the age range of your fellow travellers may still vary greatly, you should find that everyone’s physical fitness is of a similar level.

If you travel with a dedicated solo tour operator, you'll probably find that there are more woman than men in your group.

That's just how the cookie crumbles: on average, these sorts of tours tend to be split around 65% female, to 35% male. Solo travelling attracts a more mature crowd, on average, too.

A recent survey showed that the average age of a solo traveller is 54. This indicates that the older generation are making the most of good health and wealth by seeing the world.

And not everyone is single who sets out solo style, either: it's not uncommon for a spouse to set of without their partner, if it means ticking a destination or experience off their bucket list without dragging a reluctant other half along.

Solo travel is for many personality types

Whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, travelling on a solo tour is an ideal way to see the world.

Related article:

The solo traveller personality profile: what types of people go on a solo holiday?

Read more

If you'd rather keep to yourself in your downtime than keep company with the coterie, no problem. 

On the other hand, if you're more of an extrovert, you'll find it hard not to make new friends.

You may even find that your operator hosts an online forum for future travellers. 

This gives prospective soloists the opportunity to get to know other people who may be travelling on the same tour.

Solo hosts and special treatment

Some tour operators will make an extra effort to welcome solo travellers. Cruises will often host a solos-only cocktail party and some even have solos-only areas on board.

Many land-bound tours will also make an extra effort to ensure no solo traveller feels left out.

Some even provide a friendship host: someone who serves as the social glue of a group and helps to make everyone feel welcome and involved.

This can do wonders to enhance the experience of touring alone, especially if you're a reluctant introvert, want to participate with the crowd, but are a bit unsure how.

Discover why Saga Cruises are the perfect holiday option for solo travellers. Find out more here

Destinations and tour types

From China to Tanzania, Alaska to Australia: there are tours for solos (whether dedicated or not) that travel to all four corners of the globe. 

If you're yet to dip your toe into solo travel, why not try a short city break? There are exciting destinations all across Europe that are perfect for exploring as a solo traveller in a small organised group.

If you choose an operator that you like the look of – whether that's because of the types of tours they run, their target demographic, or general ethos – it will be hard to go wrong.

Then, for your next trip, you may feel more confident in venturing further afield.

For the intrepid explorers amongst us, there are action-packed tours ranging from rugged adventure trips to the Rockies, rewarding walking holidays in the West Country, vigorous trekking expeditions in the Alps and scenic cycling tours through Tuscany. You can even take a once-in-a-lifetime Safari tour in South Africa.


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.