Travel Options for the Solo Traveler

It may surprise you to know that 42% of Americans travel alone, and a whopping 72% of American women have taken a solo vacation.  Cruise lines and tour operators are taking notice of these statistics and have increased their travel options for solo travelers by over 200%.  Solo travel for adventure travelers, geared to people between the ages of 20 and 50, has really taken off, and adventures like Kenya and Tanzania safaris, Egyptian Nile cruises, and cruising the Adriatic Sea along Croatian seaside villages are just some of the many options available to the solo traveler. 

Travel companies, cruise lines in particular, are making allowances for single travelers.  NCL, among other cruise lines, has several ships that offer single cabins allowing the passenger to avoid the “single supplement” charge that has discouraged solo travelers in the past. Who wants to pay double for a cabin just because you’re traveling alone??  True, the single cabins are small and most are inside, but solos have access to a common social room where you can relax in the company of others who are traveling without a companion.  Another option is to share a cabin on a cruise or a hotel room on a land tour to avoid the surcharge.  Travel companies have made it their business to bring together like-minded travelers in the same accommodations, researching preferences to ensure a harmonious experience.  If you prefer your own accommodations, check with your Travel Leaders professional who will have information about tour companies and cruise lines that may have special deals on select trips that reduce dramatically or eliminate entirely the single supplement cost.

Let’s take a look at Alexander and Roberts twelve day, small group safari (maximum of 16 guests) that is offered at a significant discount for solo travelers on certain departures.  This tour begins in Nairobi, Kenya, where you will be met and assisted through customs at the airport before transport to your luxury hotel.  You’ll fly to the Maasai Mara National Reserve, a savannah wilderness home to lions, cheetahs, wildebeest, elephants, hippos and zebras as well as the surrounding villages populated by the Maasai people.  You’ll soar above the savannah in a hot air balloon to view the animals in their natural environment, and later take a six passenger Jeep ride on a game drive in the preserve. 

Fly to Amboseli National Park, its landscape dominated by Mt. Kilimanjaro in the distance.  The park is known for its large elephant herds, and your accommodations are visited frequently by these curious animals who want to get a closer look at their visitors.  Here you’ll have both morning and afternoon game drives and a chance to experience five different habitats favored by the animals – wetlands, sulfur springs, savannah and woodland, and the salty bed of Lake Amboseli – rarely a lake except in the rainy season.  Experience the Great Rift Valley in Tanzania, and visit Lake Manyara, especially popular with “birders” as there is a wide variety of shore birds including a large population of pink flamingos.  Zebras, waterbucks, buffalo and hippos are also drawn to the lakeshore.

Visit the crater at Ngorongoro where you’ll descend to the crater floor to view the wildlife in this unique grassland environment. You’ll enjoy two days of game drives in the Serengeti National Park, known as the location for The Great Migration.  This location is the epitome of the African safari experience, and the expert guides leading the game drives are sure to get you up close and personal (not too close!) for unbelievable photo ops of the beautiful and powerful animals that call the Serengeti home. 

Another option for thrilling foreign travel with a generous discount for solo travelers is Insight Vacations’ twelve day tour/river cruise of Egypt.    This tour begins in Cairo where you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel, spending the evening with your fellow travelers and getting to know your tour guides and the plans they have for your group to learn about Egypt’s fascinating history.  The following morning you’ll take a short flight from Cairo to Luxor, home of the huge Karnak temple complex which includes the Luxor Museum.  You’ll board your ship here for your seven night cruise of the mighty Nile River.  In Dendera you’ll visit the Temple of Hathor, one of the best preserved buildings in Egypt.  The following day you’ll cruise to Kom Ombo and the city of Aswan, with a stop at a traditional Egyptian restaurant for a galabeya party.  The next day you’ll visit the High Dam at Aswan and board a motorboat to visit the Temple of Isis on Philae Island.  The following day you’ll learn all about feluccas, a traditional sailing vessel used by Egyptians for centuries.  You can even hop a ride and learn about navigation techniques of this ancient culture.  Agatha Christie and Winston Churchill enjoyed high tea at the Old Cataract Hotel…. and you can too!  The sunset views from the veranda are worth the trip, and the scones, savory petite sandwiches and pastries make this stop an exceptional experience.

The following day you’ll have the option to visit the temples at Abu Simbel overlooking Lake Nasser – then on to the double temple dedicated to gods Sobek and Horus at Kom Ombo.  You’ll continue the cruise to Luxor where you’ll board a motorcoach bound for the west bank of the Nile.  Here an Egyptologist will join the group to shed light on the importance of monuments here, including the Colossi of Memnon and the many temples in the Valley of the Kings, burial ground of famous Egyptian pharaohs, including King Tut.  You’ll visit a local family to share a meal and hear stories about Egyptian life, both ancient and modern.

The following day you’ll explore the city of Cairo, visiting the Alabaster Mosque and the Egyptian Museum which houses thousands of artifacts recovered from the ancient tombs.  That evening you’ll be entertained at the Giza Sound and Light Show, a cultural extravaganza bringing into focus all the wonders of Egypt that you have been exposed to in the past few days.  On your last day you’ll head to Memphis to see the statue of Ramses II and the oldest pyramid in the world, King Zoser’s Step Pyramid.  In Giza you’ll be joined by an Egyptologist to view the magnificent Sphinx and have a chance to explore the inner chambers of some of the other pyramids, marveling at their precise construction in times dating back to before 2000 BC.

Check with Travel Leaders to find out which travel dates offer the best discounts for single travelers, and head off to  Africa or Egypt for the vacation of your dreams.

Just want to relax?  How about a cruise of the Hawaiian Islands aboard NCL’s Pride of America?  The newly designed studio staterooms on this ship allow you the luxury of private accommodations with no single supplement charge.  

When traveling alone you’re the boss – you decide when to take a surfing lesson on the Big Island, go snorkeling on Maui or just read a book on one of Kauai’s remote beaches.  It’s up to you whether to indulge in “meat-a-palooza” at the Brazilian Moderno Churrascaria restaurant, some authentic teriyaki at the Teppanyaki Room, or just engage in a friendly dart game and some tap beer at the Gold Rush Saloon.  With eleven different dining venues plus 24 hour buffet options, you’ll never get hungry (or bored!)  When you’re feeling ambitious, enjoy a dance class, work out at the fitness center or take a turn around the deck on the jogging track.  In the evenings enjoy Broadway productions at the Hollywood Theater.  By all means take time for a spa treatment and try a Mandara Hot Stone Heaven massage.

It’s definitely possible to spend the whole cruise aboard ship, but you don’t want to miss out on shore excursion options which will allow you a glimpse into the history of the islands as well as the natural wonders that make each island unique.  Take a day trip to the Polynesian Cultural Center to learn about the cultural traditions of several Polynesian tribal groups and experience a traditional Hawaiian luau.  Visit Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island (especially impressive at night when the lava flows into the ocean sending sparks and steam high into the sky.)  Greet the dawn on Maui from the top of Mt. Haleakala (or watch the sunset if getting up at 5:00 am isn’t your thing).  Take a helicopter tour over the Waimea Canyon on Kauai, the Garden Island.

Do what you want to do, when you feel like doing it – you don’t have to defer to anyone when you’re traveling solo!

NCL offers solo studio staterooms on other ships cruising worldwide.  Let our travel experts help you find the ship and destination that suits travel ambitions.

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