If you are a single person and you like to travel – or even if you are not single, but you enjoy vacationing on your own – you know what you are up against. Earlier this year, an article in the New York Times about vacationing “single in the Caribbean” captured the essence of the problem for the solo traveler:
“…the travel industry is just not that into you. Singles typically have to pay supplement fees on cruise ships and endure hotels where the Jacuzzi is little more than a kiddie pool. Sure, there are singles tours, fitness boot camps and other adventures that facilitate mingling. But if you’re like me — not looking for romance, but simply yearning for a lazy Caribbean escape — the options are few. At most places you’ll feel as if you’re on someone else’s family vacation or, worse, honeymoon.”
One problem, it seems, is that the travel industry has not entirely awakened to the new demographic reality: “Most travel companies think of singles as college students or as elderly.”
I’ve been studying singlism for quite some time now, but it still amazes me when people in the business world let their stereotypes about singles trump their own economic self-interest. They would do better at attracting single travelers if they knew who these people were and offered them good deals.
In Singled Out, I made fun of the Sandals/Beaches franchises. The Sandals resorts are for couples and the Beaches packages are for families. Too bad, single people.
National parks, though, surely should not be designated as places that are especially good for couples, right? Take, for example, the vast North Rim of the Grand Canyon. There should be lots of room for everyone. Well, not according to this article on planning a Grand Canyon vacation:
“Grand Canyon North Rim, which is only open from mid-May through mid-October, is better suited to couples, hikers and those seeking a quieter, more low-key Grand Canyon experience.”
Even the New York Times writer whose very point was that the travel industry should be more welcoming to single people who are not mate-seeking, and who wrote an entertaining and enlightening story, undermined herself a tad when she approached a restaurant hostess by saying:
“Hello. I’m just one.”
Never describe yourself as “just” one.
Despite my complaints, I’m optimistic about the future of solo travel. Stories such as the one in the New York Times are now commonplace. The April issue of the AAA Mid-Atlantic Magazine, for instance, included a feature story on solo travelers that had plenty of enthusiasm and useful tips, and no condescension.
Solo-travel bloggers are another great forward force. (There is a list of some of them at Single with Attitude, bottom left of the home page.) They are nipping at the heels of the travel industry, threatening to turn those nips into bites when travel companies go all matrimaniacal.
Already, some companies are setting aside their singlist single-supplements fees. May many more follow suit!
[Thanks to Cynthia and my older brother for the heads-up about the various articles about solo travelers.]
Grand Canyon photo available from Shutterstock.
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Last reviewed: 23 Apr 2012