Thanks to Widowed Friends member Joyce L for introducing us to her daughter Jennifer Najak, a travel agent with Gravitate Travel. 

As the summer isn’t too far off and travel might be on a lot of our minds, we thought it might be helpful to chat with Jennifer about the options available for people travelling alone or as a group of widows or widowers. Here’s our questions and her answers.

Q. Many of our members would like to travel but worry about travelling alone.  Do you have any suggestions for groups or tours for people on their own?

A. Many tour operators now offer solo tours.  For example, Just You Tours caters only to the solo traveler demographic. There is a lot included in a Just You tour! Overseas transfers, accommodation in your own room, breakfast on all tours and amazing Tour Managers are a given. We also include excursions to fascinating must-see sights as well as hidden gems, to ensure the very best vacation.  Gravitate Travel has an exclusive agreement with Just You, so we can guarantee no question will go unanswered.

Q. Many travel companies charge a single supplement for people travelling on their own, are there any companies that don’t charge this extra fee?

A.The trend towards solo travel is forcing tour operators and other travel providers to rethink the single supplement requirement.  For example, Just You is built on never having a single supplement. Norwegian Cruise Lines (there is even a lounge just for solo travelers), Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Holland America all have solo cabins where the solo traveler never pays a single supplement.  Crystal Cruise Lines is one of the most popular options for solo travelers. Solo travelers make up 25% of any given sailing. They offer single dance parties and solo oriented seminars.

Avalon River Cruises offer many fantastic European river cruises where the single supplement is waived. Even all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean offer resorts that do not charge a single supplement.  Some examples of good places for singles to travel would be: Aruba, Curacao, St. Lucia, and Bermuda.

Q. What are the latest trends in travel?  What are new or different locations or travel options?

A. River Cruising is a very big trend currently. Imagine floating by castles on the Rhine and Danube aboard ship, in your own suite or in the ship’s lounge meeting other solo travellers.  I work closely with all the  river cruise companies, but for me Avalon Cruises stands out in the crowd.  They have active discovery options that allow you to immerse yourself into local culture like never before.

Croatia is the hot new destination. Collette tours has great cultural immersion small group programs in Croatia.  Small group travel is another big trend. It’s a great option for people who want a small group and like experiential travel.  Collette is celebrating it’s 100th year offering high quality tours.

Q. With so many online travel resources available, what are the benefits of using a travel agent instead of booking travel on your own.

A. Travel is becoming more complex every year – there are hundreds of options out there and new resorts, cruises and vacation packages being created all the time. Just keeping up with all the choices is a full-time job!

Travel agents work for you and help you avoid stress and waste less time searching for exactly what you want.  They are advocates for their customers and strive to ensure the best experience each time they book travel.

Travel agents often are able to work with cruise lines and resorts to obtain special deals or value that you would never be able to access without them. Many cruise lines and resorts get the majority of their customers through travel agents — and they reward the best ones with perks that the agents then share with you.

Q. What’s your favourite trip and why?  What’s your dream destination?

A. One of my favourite trips was right here in Canada, taking the train from Vancouver to Toronto in my own cabin. I traveled this journey solo.  It was an all-inclusive, 3 day VIA train. It was just fantastic and relaxing. For a train tour, I think that Rocky Mountaineer is the way I would want to see western Canada now.  You travel by train through the scenic Rocky Mountains, but sleep in 4 to 5 star hotels along the way. A great option for a solo traveler!

My dream destination would be touring Bali. This has been my dream since I started in travel 20+ years ago, and it has not changed! Lately I’ve added Croatia, Zanzibar and the Maldives to the list!!!

If you have any questions on travel options or on being a solo traveller, Jennifer would be happy to chat with you! You can reach her at her email or by phone 416-629-0203