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updated 3/12/2004 1:50:35 PM ET 2004-03-12T18:50:35

Traditionally single travelers have had a tough time when it comes to prices, service, and overall experiences, but now as their numbers increase. The travel industry is slowly, but surely, coming around to recognize that they are indeed a hot commodity. “Today” Travel Editor Peter Greenberg has tips on where to find the best deals:

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Historically, it's the largest group that receives the most amount of discrimination by the travel industry -- people who are single. For years, solo travelers have been abused by price, by service, and often, by experience. Dreaded words like "single supplement" and "double occupancy" almost always meant a single traveler's budget was busted.

But now, as the numbers of single travelers has drastically increased (thanks to, in no small part, more single people traveling coupled with higher divorced travelers), the travel industry is, slowly but surely recognizing the single traveler as a potent source of revenue, and for once, there are now hotels, destinations, tour operators, cruise lines and travel services catering to the single traveler.

Here are some good ones:

All Singles Travel

A division on Travel Services Worldwide offers two primary benefits to the solo traveler: 1) Cost savings -- forced single supplement and 2) Security and camaraderie of traveling in an escorted group of solo travelers.  TSW singles vacations has been providing singles travel offerings since 1996.   Their program allows the solo traveler to enjoy travel in the security of an escorted group of other solo travelers and to avoid the expense of paying forced single supplements.  Their free roommate matching service allows all our travelers to be matched with a roommate of the same sex and smoking preference (smoking or non smoking), as well as the same age range. (the traveler's ages range primarily from ages in their 30's through 50's).   Example of cost savings, below are a couple of examples:

1) A traveler on their 10 day cruise and land package in the Greek Islands, (Sept. 1-12, 2004) would save over $1000 in comparison to booking the same trip alone through the same cruise line and hotels at the single occupancy rates of each.

2) A passenger traveling on one of their 7 day cruise offerings to the Caribbean (Nov. 20-27, 2004), the Mediterranean, (Oct. 2-9, 2004) The Hawaiian Islands (Dec. 5-12, 2004) or Alaska (July 12-19, 2004) would save, through our free roommate matching service, between $500 and $700 over the cost of booking the same cruise directly through the cruise line, whereby the traveler would have been forced to pay the cruise line's single
supplement.

3) A passenger traveling on one of our land excursions to France & Iceland (May 22-31, 2004), Costa Rica (July 2-11, 2004), The Canadian Rockies (Aug. 8-15, 2004) or Ireland (Nov. 21-28, 2004) would save between $250 and $500 versus booking the same trip through a tour operator where the passenger would be forced to pay a single supplement.

Keep in mind their program is not designed as a romance or dating service. It is instead designed to provide a means for the solo traveler to avoid this forced "single supplement".  Another advantage and purpose of their program addresses safety issues.   All of their trips are escorted by a TSW Singles Vacations representative that organizes such activities for group passengers as cocktail parties and group dinners during their vacation.
This representative stays with the group at the same hotels and of course on the same cruise sailings to assist group passengers with any questions or needs that may arise during their vacation.   For reservations call 800-717-3231, or visit allsinglestravel.com.  Upcoming 2004 trips calendar include: May -- Iceland (with optional 3 day pre tour visit to Paris, France), June - England, Scotland, Wales, July -- Costa Rica, July -- Cruise of Alaska (with optional post cruse land excursion of Alaska), August -- Canadian Rockies Dude Ranch Adventure Week September -- Cruise/land Odyssey of the Greek Islands and Italy (with optional pre cruise excursion to the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens Greece).

Singles Travel Club
The Singles Travel Club features trips with small groups to a variety of destinations like weekend getaways, adventure travel.
A roommate matching service is also available. This Travel Club maintains that they are not a dating club, but instead a way to meet single friends and travel companions. Some of the upcoming trips include Russian in June 2004, a 16 Orient cruise Beijing to   Bangkok on November 1st, a New Zealand bus tour on Sept. 18th-2004, Antarctica on Jan. 6th-2005, and Amazon River on April 9th-2005. The Singles Travel Club uses licensed and bonded travel agencies and major travel companies to secure travel only when there are bargains available. The next trip to Russia is $3,571.59 and includes the
package, airfare, port charges, and air taxes. For more information contact Gloria at 1-800-998-9099 or email her at travelbuddies@shaw.ca. At 3,571.59, the Singles Travel Club comes in a little under the average, saving a traveler around $200. The hassle factor for the traveler is also less, considering that it is all-inclusive.

Club Med
Club Med focuses on all-inclusive vacations, with more than 100 villages in more than 40 countries, including the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Club Med now offers new all-inclusive flexible vacations which include meals, buffets, and many educational
and recreational activities. One of their vacations geared towards singles is Club Med's Solo Rendezvous' on Lindeman Island for 30+ singles. All single travelers have the choice of a single room (with a supplement) or twin share accommodation (share with a stranger) without a surcharge. Some current deals include Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic from $1,528 and Columbus Isle, The Bahamas from $1,810. For more information visit clubmed.com or call 1-888-932-2582. Contact: Joeseph Gerbino
305-347-4305.     Club Med is known as the all-inclusive singles vacation.
They still have adult only travel as well. Unlike other cruises you can enjoy a variety of beverages, which includes alcohol, and food daily. Buffets and snacks are a normal find on board. Gyms and night entertainment is jus the beginning with cable television and CD players, and spa massages.  With the average price of a 7 day vacation starting at $1263, ClubMed beats the competition by about $700. These packages are all-inclusive and include  airfare.


Then there are the single travel clubs:


O Solo Mio Single Tours
O Solo Mio does about 20 trips a year in small groups of 10 to 24 that are exclusively for their members. They also offer cruises for single travel in a group setting, but leave time for your own explorations. Travelers are matched with roommates on all trips by gender,
smoking and sleeping habits, and age. Private rooms are still available for an extra fee. And additional fees may be accessed for bookings made less than 45 days before departure. All trips include airfare and accommodations.
Upcoming trips include Tahiti, Rome, Holland, Ireland, and Italy. Prices start at $495 with departures from the United States or Canada. For more information call 1-800-959-8568 or visit osolomio.com.

O Solo Mio does not charge membership fees and  specializes in group travel for individuals -- those who do not have travel partners because their friends or family don't have the travel bug or they just don't have the time or money to getaway. O Solo Mio is not a dating service, but singles from all over the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, and Singapore travel with us.
A single supplement is charged if you do not have a roommate. You can be matched with roommates. The average range of travelers is from 35 to 60 and the average size of the tour is from 16 to 24 people. The average price of $3100 for an all-inclusive package saves travelers an average of $625. Most packages include roundtrip airfare, accommodations, taxes and gratuities, complimentary in room bar, all meals and beverages, and all transfers.

Single travel for a younger crowd:

Contiki Vacations
Contiki Vacations features vacations for 18-35 years that don't just offer a destination, it delivers an experience. For over 40 year the Contiki Vacations have been individually creating itineraries.  They have over 100 itineraries which include Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Current specials include saving $150 on a trip to Europe if booked by March 31, 2004. You can also save up to 15% on trips. Other current offers include $50 off when you book 2 vacations that are both at least 10 days long and $150 off a tour that combines Europe and Great Britain.   Sample: 14-day European Discovery starting from $1359 (under $100 per day) -- Visits London, Amsterdam, Rhine Valley, Munich, Austrian Tyrol, Venice, Rome, Florence, Lucerne and Paris.  Departures almost every other day year-round. Contact: Katrina, 714-935-0808.  Visit contiki.com, or call (888)
CONTIKI.


And for the older crowd:

Travel Buddies Travel Club
Founded by a widower who wanted to travel and find someone to travel with because traveling solo is more expensive. Travel Buddies has no membership fee and no roommate-matching fee. Travel Buddies has around 1000 members. They book at a "Group Rate" to the lower rates on cruises.  Travel Buddies are from all over North America and you can join any trip from anywhere.  They have put together a cruise in November to the Orient, which leaves Beijing and ends up in Bangkok, doing the add on package (including air) with Travel Buddies, one would save members approximately $700.00. the 16-day cruise is a great deal for $2953.20 Canadian for 16 Days.

In April of 2005 Travel Buddies is doing the Amazon River, which initial had a group price for $2460.45 but they now have an upgrade and the price is $2248.45, the owner saved everyone savings of 212.00 per person.  They go thru Wego Tours & Travel.  Visit: travelbuddiesworldwide.com for more information.

For active singles:

Backroads

This adventure travel company offers active travel on all levels and pair you up with like minded travelers.   They offer everything from active travel at a relaxed pace or camping trips with fireside camaraderie for those who enjoy being in the outdoors. Because a limited number of single rooms are available on most trips for a supplementary fee they offer the first five guests that sign up 100 days in advance for a solo trip, savings of $100 off the price.  But, you must mention this offer at the time of booking to receive the discount.   If you seek a comfortable environment for individual travel, Back roads (according to their PR contact) offers more Solo trip departures and destinations than any other travel company. Reserved exclusively for adults traveling on their own or with friends. Here's an example itinerary for Backroads' Wine Country bicycling trip, covering Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino that starts at $2,298 (including all meals) for six days and five nights. For more information call 800-462-2848 or visit backroads.com.

Footloose
Eighty percent of Footloose clients are single travelers. Those that are not are usually not couples, but sisters, friends, etc.  12 to 13 people maximum on their tours.  There are no single supplements and typically 5-6 different nationalities are on each tour, so it is a very cultural experience too.
They have tours from Alaska, Canada, the US and down to Mexico. Their tours are operated by TrekAmerica -- a adventure camping specialist for over 30 years -- they operate under the simple principle -- "small is beautiful: the smaller the group, the more intimate the experience."   Their maximum group size is 13 (12 on walking, biking and photo tours) so it feels more like traveling with a bunch of friends than a group tour.   Their vehicles get off the crowded tourist trails - so you can enjoy the scene without the
herd.   And there are no single supplements, meaning travelers on their own
will share a tent (or room on lodging tours) with a fellow passenger and in
the event one cannot be matched up with another passenger of the same sex,
there is never a single supplement with Footloose. Also, they offer last minute discounts where you can save 20% when purchase online. Footloose supplies all necessary camping equipment including tents, cold food storage containers, camp lights, stoves and other camp accessories.  Camps near major city destinations all have campgrounds with facilities such as showers, pools, shops, and laundromats.  One example is their 21 day Cross Country South Expedition which leaves from New York and takes you from the
Atlantic to the Pacific via New Orleans, Navajo lands, canyons, deserts and the glitz of Las Vegas -- this tour encompasses the diversity of America: you will head south on America's busiest highway, the New Jersey Turnpike -- and your first stop will be Philadelphia: visit Independence Hall, site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Liberty Bell. On to the nation's capital, Washington D.C., where the Lincoln, Jefferson and Roosevelt Memorials and the towering Washington Monument are brightly illuminated, giving them a special, haunting quality during your night tour
of the city. The Holocaust, Air and Space, National Gallery of Art and other museums included in this trip. Prices start at $1299 and the next trip depart April 10th and includes: Transportation by adventure vehicle, services of a Footloose tour leader, all camping fees & equipment, four hotel nights, tour of Carlsbad Caverns, admission to all National Parks & Monument Valley.   For more information visit Footloose at footloose.com or call 1-800-221 0596. 

An growing solo traveler segment -- the single parent:

Single Parent Travel Network- and Single Parent Tours
This company is devoted to single parents and their families. All of their trips are created with the single parent, grandparent or any adult, married or single, who travels alone with kids.   They have a single parent getaway weekend in Northern Vermont from May 21 - 23, 2004 for a Spring Break Weekend at the Wildflower Inn located in Northern Vermont (3 hrs north of Boston & Albany & 2 hrs south of Montreal) from May 21-23, 2004.  This resort, located in the hills of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, offers 570 acres of children's
activities and programs.   The Weekend Package Includes Two nights accommodations at the Wildflower Inn Meals: Dinner Friday and Saturday night (with menu choices for adults and children); Breakfast Saturday and Sunday morning; Lunch on Saturday, Daily
mid-afternoon snacks.
Activities: All activities are included at the Wildflower Inn: Hiking, Tennis, Biking, Outdoor Heated Garden Pool, Hot Tub & Sauna, Petting Barn, Batting Cage, Bird-Watching, Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides, Fishing, Game Room, Outdoor Play Area for Kids as well as a Special Indoor Playroom (Golfing and kayaking are also available at additional cost).  Singleparenttravel.net.

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