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independent travel - cheaper or more expensive?

independent travel - cheaper or more expensive?

Old Feb 10th, 2003, 06:15 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 551
I have never paid a single supplement in any of my trips to Europe. This is because many hotels in Europe do not charge single supplements. This means that a single person traveling independently in Europe can usually get a hotel room for much less money than would be the case traveling in a group. (Group tours in Europe ALWAYS charge single supplements.)

Travel in the USA is of course quite different. Almost all hotels in the USA charge a single supplement.
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 07:03 AM
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Joyce, I think you missed the point of my question. I'm saying that the hotel room cost for a hotel is essentially cut in half, because it allows for 2 people to share a room. For example a typical hotel in Paris may charge 120 euro for a double (which is 60 euro per person). And on a tour they have set their per person rates based on that idea of 60 euro per person, not per room. If you are a single on a tour, they add to that 60 euro base price, but the total single supplement cost for a whole tour is not normally huge. But if you personally booked that hotel as a single you would not usually be able to get it for 60 euro either, you would pay more than that. It's not that the hotel adds on a single supplement, but they are normally charging a single a lot more than they are charging an individual person of a couple. Is that not right?
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 08:05 AM
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I price packages sometimes when I'm booking my trip (independently). I've never been able to find a package within $300 of putting it together myself, and that includes
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 09:46 AM
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To RufusTFirefly

I think we've found the kind of trip you're talking about - Trafalgar. We're going in May to London (3 nights), Paris (3), Nice (3), Venice (2), Florence (2), and ending in Rome (2). We'll be traveling by high-speed train so not so much time is spent in just getting there. In each city, we have an included 1/2 day city tour and then on our own the remainder of the time. All breakfast buffets are included and about 3 or 4 dinners.

The last time we went to Europe, we went independently, rented a Mercedes, and based 8 days of our 17-day trip with friends in Germany. We did day trips from our friends' home. My husband's main reason for wanting to take a tour package this year was because we neglected to visit any museums the last time. Funny, but this tour does not include one museum!
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 10:04 AM
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Hi Patrick, I've found that when inquiring about rates to a 3* hotel, the cost for me as a single is almost the same cost as 2 people sharing a double. However, with 1* or 2* hotels, I pretty much always get a rate that is half or pretty close to half what a couple would pay for a double.
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 10:33 AM
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When I compare the cost of traveling independently versus with a group, it is always less money traveling alone because of the single supplement.

Maybe this is because tour group companies book double rooms for all members of the group, and then make the travelers pay the full cost when the room is not shared.

When I travel alone, I book a single room, and therefore do not have to pay anything extra.

Traveling alone also gives people the option of selecting less expensive hotels. When traveling with a group, travelers are required to use the tour group's hotels.
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 11:36 AM
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I book my own trips, but I do use the group travel company's brochures for ideas. They write out their itinaries and sights, so I cheat and use alot of their scheduled routes.

They rave on about how great a place is and what is so great to see, so they do have good ideas, I just don't want to be led about in a group. I have been on river cruise tours and found out it is just not for me.

I book local small hotels and they are alot cheaper, but I am booking for two people, so I don't know about the single sup.
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 02:14 PM
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If you book a hotel room by yourself, you are not going to be charged a single supplement by a hotel, of course. You are paying for the room. You are going to be actually paying more PER PERSON because the cost of the room is not being split between two people. The cost of a room for a person is lower when two people are sharing it, that's all.

A single supplement on a package or tour makes up the difference in the room rate because only one person is in it, not two people -- that is because the base price of those packages is based on ONE-HALF of a DOUBLE room cost. You are NOT saving money when traveling alone versus a package solely because a hotel does not ask you for a single supplement.

Some people don't understand this, but it is really simple. I remember once somebody on Fodors told someone contemplating a package that they would be paying MORE for a room when two people traveled together, rather than single, because they would be paying for the room twice, although usually people think a single supplement means they are paying more than the cost of the room, which it doesn't).

Here is an illustrative example with somewhat typical room rates:

a hotel has rates of $120 for a double room versus $80 for a single room--
a single in the dingle room would pay $80,
one person traveling in a couple in the double room would pay $60 (half of $120),
therefore, in a package the single supplment is $20 a day ($80 cost for single occupancy - $60 assumed cost in package for double).

You are not paying more for the room in the package than you would traveling alone independently--you do not save money by traveling independently just because they don't ask you for a single supplment when you book the $80 room. IN fact, you may pay more if the tour packager got a deal on the rooms.
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 02:24 PM
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Thank you Christina for explaining what I've tried to do twice. I'm not sure if Joyce isn't reading what I asked, or just doesn't agree with it. Maybe you've explained it better than I, but that was exactly the point my friends make. Essentially they feel that getting a half price room (because they're only half of what a couple would pay) even with a supplement added seems to always be cheaper than the price a single can get a regular room for.
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 02:51 PM
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As a single traveler myself I have some advice. Search out privately run Hostels. They offer the best opportunities for meeting up with other travelers when you are feeling a little alone and need some companionship for example. Don't bother with B&Bs or hotels because you will be paying too much for just one person.

Also, this board is a favorite forum for travel agents, And it is possible that they may direct you to travel agents in their own interest.
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 06:49 PM
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Backwards, forwards, single supplement or not, no matter which way I look it at I always save bunches of $$$ by travelling independently. Not even close. Then again, I'm a classic, quintessential budget traveller.

I spent a total of $5000 on a six month trip throughout Europe, all transportaion included. Last year, 10 days in Paris cost me just over $1000, airfare from the States included.
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Old Feb 11th, 2003, 04:36 AM
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This is for Christina and Patrick:

Double rooms are less expensive only when 2 people are sharing the room. This is not true for single people traveling alone.

As I mentioned in my previous notes, I am traveling alone. This makes using a double room much more expensive for me.

With a group tour, I am put into the double room and then charged extra money (single supplement) because I am not sharing the room. When I travel independently, I ask for a "single" room, and am charged less money.

To use an example: A hotel has a double room for which it charges $120 per night, and a single room for which it charges $80 per night. Traveling by myself I can choose the single room (or even choose a less expensive hotel). Traveling in a tour group I am required to use the more expensive hotel, and am also required to be booked into the double room and pay the full rate.

Bottom line: Using the tour group I end up paying $120 per night, but traveling alone I pay $80 per night, or even less because I have the option of selecting a less expensive hotel.
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Old Feb 11th, 2003, 07:29 AM
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It is hard to compare.....but we have found that staying in the hotels that we like and flying the way we want to is much cheaper on our own than tours that stay in the same hotels plus an additional cost for airfare.
Old Feb 11th, 2003, 09:31 AM
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I believe that independent travel is less expensive but I may be wrong. We just returned from a trip to Paris, seven days and 6 nights and our cost were roughly:

Airline tickets (2) $1,100
Hotel 500
food and other 700
misc 200

Total $2,500

This is not exact and is just a example.

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Old Feb 11th, 2003, 09:48 AM
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I guess you just don't understand, Joyce. The base rate you pay on a tour is for only half of a double room!! The $120 for a double room is already divided by 2 == and the tour is charging $60 per person. That is what you pay as well == just the single person amount which is half of a double room rate. The tour may add a suplement, but I've never known it to be double!!! It is usually something like 10%. In this case that would make your room cost something like $66 -- a long way from the full two person rate of $120 or even still less than your own single room indedpendently booked rate of $80. I have no idea where you find a tour that charges as much for one person traveling alone as for two people, since all the tours I ever see are priced per person, with a smallish extra supplement for a single traveler -- but still a far, far cry from the cost for a couple. Sorry, to make such an issue. But I promise if you still don't understand, I will drop it now.
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Old Feb 11th, 2003, 10:14 AM
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Traveling with my husband, I've never found a package deal that was cheaper than planning the trip myself. We usually prefer to stay in a B&B or small boutique hotel to a "standard hotel", so that probably accounts for some of the difference.

I also feel that if necessary, it's easier to cancel a trip I book myself without incurring too many fees.
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Old Feb 11th, 2003, 12:44 PM
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Patrick - while I agree with most of your points, the "smallish extra supplement" for a single traveler on a tour might only be 10% of the cost of the whole package, but since it is probably all applied to the hotel room rather than the flights, excursions etc, it has the effect of significantly increasing the cost of the hotel room for a single traveller. So your example and Joyce's are not that far apart, I believe.
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Old Feb 11th, 2003, 01:09 PM
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OK, Ruth, maybe you are right. I was just guessing that a 17 day tour might cost $2000 per person, so a 10% single supplement would be $200 extra -- or a total of $12 extra per day. Even applying that full $12 a day to the hotel, seemed to still be better than the normal privately booked single rate. Where can you get a room for half of a double room price plus just $12? But my figures may be way off.
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Old Feb 11th, 2003, 01:12 PM
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Along the lines of the original post, I always travel on my own and have never really done a cost comparison. I feel a strong philosophical aversion to packaged travel.

So to me it's about more than money... being with a tour would be my worst nightmares come true (set schedules, someone else deciding where I will eat and sleep, what I see and when I see it). No thanks. Life's too short and travel opportunities too precious!
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Old Feb 12th, 2003, 06:02 PM
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My local supermarket is selling cauliflower for 99 cents and canteloupe for 2.99. That has about as much to do with the enjoyment of travel as many of the comments here.

For an experienced traveler who knows where and what he wants to see and what quality accommodations and what restaurants, completely independent travel probably works best and may be less expensive. And that's what I do when I go to places I've been before.

But I've used the packaged tours a few times too. Last year we took a package coach tour to Italy where we had never been before. We went early and spent a few days in Rome before the tour - arranged our own hotel, chose our own restaurants, made our own pace. We then joined a 14 day tour of Italy. The tour went south as Sorrento, north to Venice, west to the Italian Lakes and south to Rome. Maybe I could have done it more cheaply. I would have liked more time in Venice, more in Pompeii, Florence, Milan. Did we think all the hotels and meals were great? No. Did we enjoy the tour? Yes. Did we waste time finding our hotel? No. Did we get lost between Venice and Verona? No. (We once went in and out of the same roundabout between Edinburgh and Glasgow 3 times.) There was no way we could have accomplished as much as we did on our own.

The coach tour was very efficient, reasonably priced and enjoyable. The group was American, Canadian, Australian, Malasian and Czech so we were able to compare notes of our respective countries. What difference would a few hundred dollars have made in our enjoyment?
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