TRAVEL Q&A

One Is Not an Odd Number

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By Scott Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 9, 2007

Q. I'm a single person who wants to take a vacation, but whenever I find a deal they add a surcharge for being single. Are there places that don't charge extra for being single?

Marc Weber, Silver Spring

A. We don't mean to pry, but the first thing to ask yourself is whether you are single by choice or default. This question is critical to not only your romantic future but your traveling one, because although enormous progress has been made on the solo front, much of the tourism industry still fancies itself a latter-day Noah's Ark (and it's not only cruise ships that prefer their animals two-by-two).

Let's assume for the sake of argument that you're the type to travel alone and love it. If so, head to http://www.travelaloneandloveit.com, a site full of tips and resources run by Sharon B. Wingler, author of the book, er, "Travel Alone & Love it." As you might guess, Wingler travels alone and . . . well, you get it.

When you travel solo, "you'll find you meet people more easily, learn more about the places you visit and have freedom to do as you please," she writes encouragingly on her Web site. There you'll find links to several companies that specialize in helping travelers beat single supplements as well as tips and testimonials on the subject from fellow soloists.

On the other hand, perhaps you'd be willing to pair off -- if you could. In that case, there's a wealth of sites on the Internet -- that great purveyor of relationships virtual and otherwise -- ready to match you up with like-minded solo travelers ( http://www.travelchums.com, say) or offering group trips catering to the unmarried set. One of the biggest is Singles Travel International (877-765-6874, http://www.singlestravelintl.com), whose president, Tammy Weiler, says more and more tourists are choosing the paradoxical option of traveling alone in groups.

"We're perfect for single people who don't want to be alone all the time," she says. "We're especially important at the dinner hour. That's the toughest time when you're traveling alone. You want to talk about your day, the experiences you've had."

We'll be in Sydney in February. Can you recommend ways to get to know the city that aren't too budget-busting? Is it possible to walk the Harbour Bridge? What is the story on seeing a show in the opera house?

Peter M. Falk, Bethesda

"Oh, they'll love the weather in February," says Francine Beifeld, a Fairfax travel agent who specializes in Australia and the South Pacific (703-264-0222, http://www.travelharmony.com). "It's doubtful they'll even need a light jacket."

Wait, it gets better. "Truthfully, you don't have to do a lot of guided tours. They have buses, a monorail, a metro system and it's very much a walking city." There are several transportation packages you can buy before you leave, including a Sydney Pass ( http://www.sydneypass.info), which for $127 gets you five days of unlimited travel on city buses, ferries, certain trains, sightseeing buses and more.

The Harbour Bridge can definitely be walked -- along a pathway on the bridge's east side -- but it can also be walked: The Bridge Climb is a guided tour that takes the intrepid up wind-battered ladders on the upper span, across catwalks and eventually to the bridge's summit. (Walkers are securely tethered to each other.) Beifeld strongly recommends booking this popular activity in advance: http://www.bridgeclimb.com. And you can see the opera house via an inexpensive tour or by attending a performance. (There's much more than opera: see http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com.) The dress code? Aussie casual. "It's like the Kennedy Center with shorts," Beifeld says.

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost.com) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company


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