How Retired Singles Can Safely Travel While Saving Money

Many older adults look forward to seeing the world once they retire. Here are some tips for those who are single and looking for adventure.

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Travel is one of the great luxuries of retirement, and the pandemic has been “a real wakeup call” for single tourists, says Janice Waugh, founder of Solo Traveler (opens in new tab). The website, which is aimed at single travelers, found that those over 65 are especially eager to make travel a priority once the pandemic is over.

But post-pandemic, single travelers are looking to take charge. “In previous years, if a friend wanted to go someplace they might just go along, but now they’re saying, ‘I’m going to go where I want to go, even if it means traveling solo,’” Waugh says.

What will become increasingly popular, she predicts, are so-called hub-and-spoke tours, where the tour group stays in one hotel for the duration and individuals take day trips to nearby places. From a health safety standpoint, people will feel more comfortable after the pandemic sleeping in one place rather than hopping from one hotel or inn to another, Waugh says. These kinds of tours are also especially good for lone travelers who may want to explore on their own during the day but dine out with people in the evening.

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Of course, solo travel comes with an extra cost: Premium hotels or cruises charge for a single room.

Although single supplements will continue, whenever the travel industry has had to recover from a rough economic time, such as after the Great Recession or now, it tends to woo the solitary traveler, Waugh says. Often, that has meant waiving single supplements.

If you don’t want to pay the supplement, don’t be shy. Ask a hotel or cruise if it will waive the extra charge, or Google “no single supplement” to find hotels or cruises that don’t charge the additional fee. You may also want to sign up for alerts from websites that cater to those traveling on their own. One way of avoiding the supplement—rooming with someone else on the tour—probably won’t be available for a while because of health concerns, Waugh says.

Contributing Writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Alina Tugend is a long-time journalist who has worked in Southern California, Rhode Island, Washington, D.C., London and New York. From 2005 to 2015, she wrote the biweekly Shortcuts column for The New York Times business section, which received the Best in Business Award for personal finance by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Times, The Atlantic, O, the Oprah Magazine, Family Circle and Inc. magazine. In 2011, Riverhead published Tugend's first book, Better by Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong.