What are single supplements?

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? 

By Saga team

Published 3 May 2024

Torre del Lago Puccini, Versilia, Massaciuccoli lake, Tuscany, Italy, Europe

A single supplement is a premium charged to people who take a room alone. Put another way, it’s a premium paid for the luxury of not having to share a room, which would involve two people essentially splitting the room cost 50/50. Rather than charging a single person the same price as two people sharing (ie, 100% of the room cost), the single supplement is added. This means a single person can expect to pay between 70-90% of the room, rather than 100% of the cost – but it can still be significantly more than the 50% someone travelling as part of a pair would spend.

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.

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.

Some holiday companies now offer reduced-price or zero-cost single supplements outside of peak travel season, or they will have negotiated with hotels to offer discounts on double rooms, and no-supplement deals throughout the year.

Equally, some specialist solo travel companies now offer itineraries tailored to cater to singletons, and these omit single supplements altogether.

If booking at low season, call and ask for the single supplement to be waived. You never know if you don’t ask!

Bear in mind that booking a single room may be a compromise you don’t want to make on holiday. You may find you end up with a small room with a single bed and no view, and could be better off paying for a double room – it depends what you prioritise when travelling.

Consider a cruise; some cruise lines (including Saga) offer single cabins on board to avoid you having to pay out for a double cabin. Saga Cruises even put on special events for solo travellers so they can get to know other passengers.

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

Whether you travel solo to enjoy some much-needed me-time or to meet new people, or if you travel with a friend but prefer your own space, you'll find exactly what you’re looking for on Saga's singles holidays.

We offer a variety of solo hotel stays and tours, and our wide selection of holidays means we have a getaway to suit everyone. They're all incredible value for money as 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 many of our Hosted hotel holidays to offer single rooms at no extra cost, subject to availability.

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