Whether you love solo travel or just lack a dive buddy, no one likes the extra fees often facing travelers who claim a room for themselves. Termed a ‘single supplement,’ this additional fee tacks on anywhere from 10 to a whopping 100 percent of the standard room rate to your bill if you don’t meet the double-occupancy guidelines. Here are our eight top tips for traveling alone and avoiding the dreaded single supplement on your next dive trip.
Travel with a dive shop
Sign up for a group trip and avoid the ‘single’ part altogether. Dive shops often offer group trips to tropical locales like the Bahamas or even far-flung destinations like the Maldives. They’ll also pair you up with a good dive buddy. Though your local dive shop remains an easy first choice, you’re not limited to businesses in your area. Many dive shops also offer out-of-state divers a chance to join their trips.
Share a room
Land-based properties usually require a single supplement unless you’re in a shared room. Often designed for backpackers, these rooms generally house at least two travelers and sometimes many more. You’ll share bathroom facilities but enjoy access to a kitchen, which can also cut down on your meal costs. We adore the Agnes Gateway Hotel on the remote island of Munda in the Solomon Islands, which offers a variety of rooms including these types of budget rooms. The property also houses the award-winning Dive Munda.
While some resorts offer shared rooms, you’ll have more luck on the water as this is usually a standard liveaboard option. Since you’ll be bunking with one to three other divers, a guaranteed dive buddy is a part of the package. While the cost may seem high at first glance, remember that the fee includes the room, all meals, and the diving. These liveaboard rooms can range from bare bones to luxurious. One of our favorites is the Arenui Boutique Liveaboard, which not only offers elegant shared rooms, but some of the best diving in Indonesia.
Link up with a dive group
Online groups are often looking to add divers to their roster for a trip. Search social media and Google, joining every group you can find that piques your interest. Whatever your dive passion, you’ll discover a group and a trip to suit you whether you prefer wreck diving, budget travel, or a remote excursion.
Join a solo traveler-site dedicated to divers
Pair up with a buddy on a network that caters to single divers (i.e., divers not in a relationship) or buddy-less divers (i.e., divers in a relationship without a dive buddy). You can connect with a travel companion to book a trip together, join a diver on a trip already booked, or post a trip looking for someone to join you. Two good sites include Single Divers and Singles Who Scuba.
Some hotels and resorts offering last-minute rooms won’t ding you with a single supplement. Sometimes, they just want a full house, so look for trips and rooms available in the next 30 days Better yet, if you’re flexibile enough, look for the next two weeks. Sometimes, you can snag a steal even at a lavish resort.
Ask for a discount on rooms far in advance
Conversely, other hotels and resorts prefer to establish advance bookings and offer discounts for dates far in the future. While this occurs less often than cheap, last-minute rooms, we secured a bungalow at a South Pacific resort a year and a half in advance, minus the 35 percent single supplement they usually include. We also paid the current year’s rates and not the following year’s price raised by inflation.
A number of hotels and resorts will negotiate if you contact them directly instead of relying on a travel site. Always ask for a discount even if none are listed, particularly during the off season or the shoulder season. They may waive the single supplement, offer a discount, or furnish extras such as free nitrox or equipment rental. The worst they can say is no.
Consider a home share or home exchange. At home-sharing sites, such as Airbnb and HomeAway, you’ll pay a nightly, weekly, or monthly fee to rent a room in someone’s home or rent the entire house. Some properties equate to the price of a hotel, but some are incredibly cheap.
At home exchange sites such as Intervac and HomeLink, you’ll pay a small annual fee, around $100, to the home-exchange company and then you’ll swap homes with someone for the length of your vacation. Instead of paying money, you exchange free accommodation.
Bonus Tip: find a place so cheap the fee doesn’t matter
Don’t forget that some places remain cheap enough that a tacked-on single supplement won’t hurt too much. We’ve found this more consistently true in spots like Mexico and Indonesia, so a search in these locations could offer up a bargain trip.