You can expect to live another 20 years, on average, if you are 65 and a woman. Lots of delicious weeks stretch ahead. How will you spend them? When I tackle this question in my new book, The Single Woman's Guide to Retirement (AARP/Wiley Books), I emphasize experiences, not things; they generate more happiness than material purchases. And, for many single women, travel tops their retirement to-do list.
But there's a big catch: the dreaded single supplement, a surcharge of 10 to 100 percent of double-occupancy rates for hotel rooms and cruise staterooms. Women on their own face other worries, too, from security fears to loneliness. Luckily, you can beat these concerns and make your future adventures easier on the pocketbook.
It's no wonder single women enjoy taking cruises: Someone else is doing the cooking, serving and cleaning, and even if you go solo, you can enjoy the companionship of fellow cruisers. The most single-friendly ships include P&O's Azura, with 18 solo staterooms; Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Epic, which offers 128 single studios; and Norwegian's newest ship, Breakaway, which has 59 staterooms for singles. The single rooms on the Azura and Norwegian Epic are wildly popular, so look for more ships offering the single stateroom. The Discovery (Voyages of Discovery) and the British-style Fred. Olsen (yes, the period belongs there) offer single cabins.
Silversea Cruises reduces the single supplement to only 10 to 25 percent of the normal supplement on many sailings; Crystal Cruises also has reduced single supplements. If you're an AARP member, MSC Cruises trims the single supplement to 50 percent. Cruise lines sometimes suspend their single supplement during the low season. Also, consider a repositioning cruise. When cruise lines shift their fleets at the end of a season, you can often snag savings of 50 percent or more.
Get With the Group
The pioneering women-only group travel service AdventureWomen boasts that 70 percent of its clients are repeat customers. Gutsy Women Travel has reasonably sized groups (average of 15 to 20) and activities, including attending theater performances, shopping and hiking. If you sign up to share a room and the company can't find you a roommate, Gutsy Women often covers the single supplement.
Other services, such as Journeywoman and Senior Women's Travel, cater to women over 50. For lesbian travel, Olivia offers room sharing based on age and smoking and drinking preferences; Sweet, a lesbian travel company, encourages community-service projects on its trips. Purple Roofs lists gay-owned and gay-friendly bed-and-breakfasts, inns, hotels, travel agents and tour operators.
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