Solo Travel: When sharing with a stranger on tour does not work

Share stranger nightmare

One of our New Young Travel readers, Sander Frank is married and has been travelling solo for many years.  Her husband simply does not like to travel.

Sandra has travelled in many different styles over the years and has often taken the share with a stranger option in favour of paying the single supplement.  There are pros and cons of sharing with a stranger when travelling solo.   Most of the time it works out.  But one time it didn’t. 

Sandra has written a first-hand account for New Young Travel readers of her most recent share with a stranger experience.

In talking to many travellers over the years, when sharing with a stranger goes off the rails, it can ruin your holiday.  So consider your options carefully and make sure you speak to the company and tour leader ahead of time around scenario planning in case your roommate does not work out.

Here is Sandra’s first-hand account of sharing with a stranger.

I have just returned from a 28-day tour of China’s Silk Road with a major Australian/International company.  On this trip, I went “single, willing to share”.

My allocated roommate was a couple of years younger than I and had travelled extensively in her younger days.  She had been backpacking to Europe and around for over four years.

I had retired from a government client service position and she was a social worker before retiring so I thought we would have some things in common.

But unfortunately, I soon discovered that she was not “willing to share”. She wanted to share – and smoke – never an option.

Not as she seems.

It started when I was not permitted to have any lights on at night- not even the night light if there was one available. I was told that if I had a light on then she would smoke.  The curtains had to be fully closed; no windows open; air conditioning – if working (and many did not) was to be set on 25 degrees or higher.

If I wanted to read, she would put the television on.  And many times I was blasted with abusive and foul language.

One night she removed the “key card” that controlled the electricity.  As a result, I had no light for the bathroom. Another time she gave my bed two heavy thumps during the night and woke me up – for no reason.

Does your tour company have scenario plans for when it doesn’t work?

When I mentioned some of the above incidents to the National guide, he dismissed them as just some of the things that go with the “willing to share” option.  But I really felt in this case, there was no willingness to share, just selfishness and bullying.

Of course, I could have paid the extra for the single supplement, but that would have meant that she had won – at no cost to her.

I have shared many, many times on tour (Europe three tours – 31 nights, 16 nights and 12 nights.  Tahiti – 14 nights. Bali – 10 nights. Egypt – 14 nights.  China – 22 nights and Taiwan – 14 nights.  This was the first time I have encountered such an inconsiderate, uncompromising person.

Maybe it is time that the companies that offer the “single willing to share” option have a compatibility type questionnaire for the applicants to complete.

Sharing with a stranger is a great option when it works.  And you can tell from Sandra’s account, there were many successful share stranger stories that preceded her nightmare.   There are pros and cons to travelling solo from many perspectives.

Bronwyn White

Bronwyn White is a travel and tourism industry professional with more than 30 years of experience.  Her special interest is helping retirees, semi-retired baby boomers enjoy the dream of travel.  She loves to help them plan and get the most out of this time.

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