In this week’s Travel SOS, Kay O’Sullivan reassures solo traveller Maysara that her decision to take a tour is the right one.
I am a single traveller as my husband passed away two years ago. It’s difficult to find friends with the same interests so I have decided to go by myself next year. I will go to Spain, Morocco and Portugal with Trafalgar for 15 days. I don’t want to pay a single supplement for this, so I need to know if it’s ok to share a room with a stranger? Also, should I do a river cruise before I start the tour from Madrid, as I will get a cheaper flight with this cruise? Is it worth it?
A. That’s a brave but a wonderful decision. You will be in excellent hands with Trafalgar. The people at Trafalgar know how to take good care of guests. It’s a very successful company globally, and here in Australia, where it has been operating for 50 years.
Solo female travellers make up a significant portion of the passenger list on each guided holiday Trafalgar operates, so it understands that travelling on your own can be scary and does everything to make it as easy as possible for you.
What will happen with your accommodation is that it will look carefully at your details and then match you with another solo female traveller around your age. On the first night of your holiday, there will be a welcome reception and your Tour Director, as the Trafalgar guides are called, will do introductions on your arrival to smooth the way.
This care and the concern will continue through your holiday.
I’ve travelled solo with Trafalgar a number of times and let me reassure you that the Travel Directors are skilled at making sure that people like us feel welcome and are included. I am certain that by day two, or day three at the latest, you will feel like you are travelling with friends.
Also, to help smooth the way, Trafalgar has just launched an App called MyTrafalgar that allows guests to link up with other passengers, and their Travel Director, before the trip, so in a way you will know people before you leave home. The App works across Apple and Android devices, has loads of information about your trip – such as optional extras and itinerary details – plus you can create a travel journal and share photos and videos with guests, friends and family via social media.
I spoke with the managing director of Trafalgar Australia, Matthew Cameron-Smith about your concerns and he said that the number of solo travellers is growing rapidly year upon year, and that last year, 77 per cent of Trafalgar’s solo travellers were female.
He told me that Trafalgar offers waivers and substantial discounts on single supplement fees, plus accommodation upgrades on numerous departures across its itineraries throughout the year. I would add, these value-adds usually apply to departures during the low season i.e. the cooler months.
And Matthew said that if there is is an odd number of travellers then Trafalgar simply provides a guest with their own room free of the single supplement charge.
On your river cruise query, I had a look at the itinerary of the Trafalgar guided holiday you mentioned and it does a thorough job of covering all the must-sees of Spain, Morocco and Portugal. For that reason, I think it would be a bit of a waste of time to cover the same territory on a Spanish river cruise.
As Europe is such long way to go, especially for two weeks, why not consider a river cruise further north in Europe along the Rhine, Rhone or Danube? There are literally hundreds of options, and airfares between central Europe and Madrid are very affordable. (Have a look at the flight comparison website www.skyscanner.com.au which I find very easy to use or talk to a travel agent.)
It wouldn’t be daunting as both Trafalgar and all the good river cruise companies provide complimentary transfers from airport to the tour or river cruise’s departure destination.
Deciding to travel was the hard part, now you’ve got a lot of fun to look forward to.
Do you have a travel question for Kay? If so, email your Travel SOS to [email protected]
Kay O’Sullivan is no accidental tourist. More than a decade ago, she decided to combine two of her favourite things – journalism and travel – and become a travel writer. Since then, she has worked for numerous papers, magazines and on the internet, both here and internationally.