Whoever decided that coupledom should determine the bulk of travel arrangements surely wasn’t a witness to the 21st century. More than ever, today’s travelers are keen to set out solo — whether due to competing work schedules, changing demographics, or a basic hankering for personal freedom — only to find themselves dinged with an expensive single supplement fee for the so-called privilege. Happily, our editors have turned up ten fantastic solocations (aka solo vacations) that are bucking the trend by offering vacation packages that downright discount or skip the notorious single supplement fees. So if you're itching for some alone time on your next vacation, you can now pick from beach vacations, spa getaways, culturally enriched itineraries in far-off destinations, and even activity-themed trips (think skiing, diving, golfing). Then, get out there and reap the benefits of your vacation for one.
1. Anguilla for beach bums
Cradled by calm Caribbean waters and some of the world’s finest white-sand beaches, the posh Lesser Antilles' island of Anguilla is a haven for travelers seeking some alone time. The intimate 17-room Arawak Beach Inn’s three-night Me, Myself & I package is the perfect year-round reward, too, with perks like a lobster dinner for one and a picnic-fueled day trip to the secluded beaches of uninhabited Scrub Island as part of the deal. Your Anguilla visit needn't be all about alone-time mind you, as abundant international restaurants, art galleries, historic sites, and superb snorkeling and diving spots await those who care to venture out for company.
2. Aspen for skiers
Skiing is the perfect sport for the solo traveler, what with wide open pistes and spectacular mountain scenery offering constant companionship, and the ability join the “single’s line” for quicker chairlift access. Of course, the sport is already a pricey endeavor, and single supplements don't help budget-conscious solo travelers, especially if you're trying to bed down in the Hollywood of the Rockies: Aspen, Colorado. Fortunately, the town does provide wallet-friendly options for single skiers willing to forego some glam, including up to 50 percent off dining-room menus simply for eating at the bar, and affordable single bunks at the well-maintained St. Moritz Lodge. Indeed, there's surprisingly good value to be had for going solo in Aspen.
3. China for culture hounds
With the Olympics just around the corner, fast-growing China is bursting on the world scene. Still, the sheer size of the country — not to mention the language barrier — can make it daunting to explore alone, even for the most courageous of travelers. Intrepid Travel solves this problem with vacation packages geared specifically to individuals with multiple departure dates throughout the year. Adventurous travelers set out in groups (max 12) for two-week journeys from Shanghai to Beijing, taking in the nation’s modern and historical sites, with stops along the way to party in cosmopolitan Shanghai, absorb the Buddhist wisdom of Shaolin, ogle the ancient Xi’an’s Terracotta Warriors, meet the nomads of Xiahe, and enter Beijing’s Forbidden City. The only caveat is that attendees do have to share a room; it's a good excuse to make a new friend.
4. Costa Rica for nature lovers
Costa Rica's surf-ready waves, thick rainforests, and steamy volcanoes are not for the timid. Thankfully, with the solocations on offer from O Solo Mio Tours, adventurous souls can embark on an eight-night journey through the country’s jungle-cloaked outback with fellow solo travelers. The action-packed Nature at its Best package highlights some of the country’s immaculate natural splendors this September 27-October 5, including canal rides through Tortuguero National park, hikes around Volcán Arenal (Costa Rica’s most active volcano which spouts and spews regularly), canopy tours in Monteverde, and nature walks and beach time in Manuel Antonio National Park. The trip covers your hotel (with an affordable supplement if you want a single room), ground transfers, private coach for group touring, sightseeing, and most meals, including a farewell dinner.
5. Great Barrier Reef for divers
Stretching 1,250 miles along Australia’s northeast coast, the Great Barrier Reef encompasses over 2,100 individual reefs in a span of 135,000 square miles. The immense underwater playground is perfect for divers looking for solitude, save for the abundant local wildlife that includes some 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish, and rare green turtles and dugongs (sea cows). Join the underwater party with Contiki Tours, whose year-round five-day open-water courses are geared towards single travelers. Kicking off from Cairns, Contiki organizes nearly everything from dive boat accommodations and daily meals to scuba gear and dive instruction. All you’ll need is a cozzie (Aussie slang for swimsuit) and an underwater camera to chronicle your time alone with the fish.
6. Naples, Fla., for golfers
Hit the links in solitude in sunny Naples, Florida, revered as one of the nation’s hottest golfing destinations thanks to its 1,600 holes of golf. The upscale, Mediterranean-inspired boutique hotel, Inn on Fifth, offers an above-par year-round two-night golf package perfect for the go-it-alone golfer; along with your accommodations, you'll also nab rounds at two distinct, semi-private nearby golf courses (the tropically landscaped Hammock Bay and the challenging, Greg Norman-designed Tiburon), with all cart and green fees included. When not on the greens, you can relax on your room balcony or terrace or discover the on-site fitness center, spa, pool, hot tub, and two resort restaurants. The hotel’s historic district location also puts it at the heart of Naple's vibrant downtown scene, an area of swanky shops, gourmet restaurants, and art galleries situated just a few blocks from white-sand Gulf of Mexico beaches.
7. Santa Monica for spa lovers
Ideally situated where the Los Angeles sprawl meets the glittering Pacific Ocean, Santa Monica renders moot the notion that nobody walks in L.A. Excellent boutique shops (especially along Montana Avenue, where most of the hippie-glam locals shop), and nearly 400 restaurants, cafés, and bars are all packed into just 8.3 square miles bordered by three sandy miles of quintessential California coastline. At the center of it all, perched amid five secluded acres of lush gardens on a bluff overlooking the beach, is the exquisite Fairmont Miramar Hotel, where a Single & The City package (available through March 31, 2008) covers overnight accommodation, a continental breakfast, and an amenity kit with maps and activity ideas. The coup de grace though, is the spa add-on covering treatment options like a massage, facial, or mani/pedi, plus yoga or toning classes overlooking the Pacific.
8. Turks & Caicos for Club Med-goers
Renowned for launching the first all-inclusive resort, Club Med has long catered to couples and families. Now, they’re also reaching out to solo travelers, offering double occupancy rooms all year long at reduced or no-single-supplement-fees-at-all rates. We’re particularly keen on their active, adults-only Turkoise hotel in Turks and Caicos, where singles can save up to 50 percent off single supplement fees. It may not be the 100 percent savings you'll get at other locales like Bora Bora, Mexico, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Dominican Republic, or the Bahamas, but the rates do include a stay at one of the chains’ best properties, plus access to the resort’s Sailing Academy, Circus School (think trapeze and trampoline lessons), fitness center, tennis, basketball, and beach volleyball courts, and more. All that, and a prime location on superb Grace Bay, one of the Caribbean's finest beaches, guarantees an abundance of land and water pursuits.
9. Tuscany for trekkers
Oenophile or not, a trip to Tuscany will give you a taste of the good life. And since there’s such a large spread to cover — all of it densely packed with rambling vineyards, cypress-dotted hillsides, and centuries-old hamlets — we recommend a walking tour to optimize your mileage, allow you to fully immerse yourself in the glorious beauty of the winelands, and get some exercise to boot. Backroads, a well-known active-travel company, offers a guided six-day tour that unites individual travelers along ancient footpaths north of Siena and in Chianti's historic hill towns, with plenty of world-famous wines and traditional Tuscan cuisine to sample en-route. The trip begins in Florence and wraps in Siena, covers five nights in upscale inns and villas (you’re either paired with a fellow trekker or you can request a private room for a fairly steep supplement), nearly all meals, and more in June and September, 2008.
10. Zambia for the safari set
From antelope to zebra and all the wildlife in between, Africa’s stunning fauna inspires hundreds of adventure tours a year, including those of Ultimate Africa Safaris, whose scheduled group trips (with eight travelers max) and customized tours come with little-to-no single fees attached. These Seattle-based travel specialists create high-quality, all-inclusive safaris complete with airfare, travel insurance, and camping or luxury accommodations to suit all styles and tastes. They’ll even set you up with one of their partner sites with no solo supplements: Wilderness Safaris, for one, runs a year-round 10-day package along the migration trails of elephants and zebras through Botswana and Zambia; Robin Pope Safaris, meanwhile, lists several low-season packages through Zambia. The call of the wild has never sounded better.