I’ve travelled on lads’ holidays, 5* spa breaks, authentic solo Airbnbs, and everything in between. In my experience, solo travel is more expensive than with companions. Here’s how.
Solo travel has lots of pros and cons. On the one hand, you get to do exactly what you want, when you want, on your own terms. It can push you out of your comfort zone to meet people, solve problems, and become independent. On the other hand, you don’t get to share the memories with anyone, or have buddies to drink & party with, and some activities and sports can’t be done alone. Perhaps the biggest drawback, though, is that it often costs more. Here’s a breakdown of the costs and how you can minimise this negative.
A Travelzoo survey revealed that more than three quarters of Britons have either travelled solo or are considering doing so, and, interestingly, more than half (60 per cent) of those travelling alone were either in a relationship or married (2018).
When it comes to transport, solo and group travel tend to cost the same, since they are charged per person. Buses, trains, & planes all cost the same if you travel on your own.
Taxis & car rental is a different matter. The larger the group, the more ways you can split the shared car’s rental cost to reduce the proportional price. To minimise this in solo travel, try to change your mode of transport to moped, bus, train/interrail, etc., or stay more central so you can walk.
Hotels & Airbnbs
Hotels are the real punisher for solo travellers. Rooms either have twin or double beds, meaning they’re priced for couples/friends. While booking alone, when you change the guests from 2 to 1, the price per person doubles. Hotels do not reduce the price; they put it all on you to maintain the same profit for themselves.
Shared rooms in hostels offer single beds, meaning that securing 1 place is the same cost as in a group. However, private rooms, tagged “sleeps 2” or “sleeps 3” are much more expensive for loners.
Hostels negate many advantages of solo travel, because for at least 8 hours each day you’re not solo.
To mitigate the extortionate cost of accommodation, travel during non-peak months, different days of the week to families, and look out for deals on sites like HolidayPirates. It can lead to exploring some more obscure countries for cheaper.
Cruises are generally the same as hotels, with rooms being doubles and therefore costing twice as much for you if half of that bed is empty. However, some cruises operators charge slightly less than double for solo travellers. So, search the main providers for cheaper cruises.
Tours like those from Intrepid Travel & Contiki charge per person, so are a great solution to the expensive “single tax” charged by hotels. You’ll be on the move and perhaps even camping, leading to a more authentic experience. While not suitable for relaxing breaks, consider adventure trips to avoid more expensive hotels.
Food & Drink
Restaurants, bars, etc. are all the same price whether with a boisterous group or all on your lonesome. Great! If anything, you’d be more tempted to go drinking as a group, whereas on your own you can visit a bakery or supermarket for frugal meals.
Conclusion – Is Solo Travel More Expensive?
Solo travel can be a little or a lot more expensive than with family or friends on accommodation, food, and transport. There are steps you can take to minimise the impact on your wallet so you can keep travelling longer.
Bonus – here are 6 travel operators specialising in solo travel:
- Friendship Travel
- Just You
- Small Families which is aimed at single-parent families
- Solitair Holidays
- Travel One
- Solos Holidays
See all my solo travel videos here.