FIND THE ANSWERS

If you're new to travelling solo, new to us, or both, we know there's probably questions on your mind. We've listed answers to the most common questions.

You may have others and for any other questions, our travel team are only an email or phone call away. Call Us on 1300 653692

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MAIN TOPICS:

  1. FAQ by Solo Travellers
  2. General Touring
  3. Accommodation
  4. Dining
  5. Travel Money
  6. Health, Safety & Well Being
  7. About Us

If you had told me that 15 complete strangers could be thrown together in a foreign country and all hit it off so easily I would never have believed it. ......every day was pure joy ........

Italian Splendour Tour 2017: Leanne, 56 years Melbourne, Australia

FAQ BY SOLO TRAVELLER QUESTIONS

Mostly single travellers join us (people without partners) but we also know that travellers with partners sometimes like to travel solo, for any number of reasons. Our trips are all about the spirit of 'going solo'.

Everyone who comes on an Encounter Travel holiday is excited about the adventure ahead, leaving behind their everyday life and being open to the experiences travel can bring.

When you book one of our holidays you have the comfort of knowing that fellow travellers have also booked solo. However, if you are single and have a friend who'd like to come along too, feel free to book together. Whether you book alone or with a friend, you'll feel you're a part of the group as everyone explores new places and destinations together.

If you are a couple (dating or married) looking to join us, then unfortunately our solos' groups aren't for you, but thanks for stopping by and admiring our trips - we'd love you to tell your solo traveller friends about us.

We know some people hear 'singles holidays' and think 'dating'... but that's not what we're about. That's not to say you won't meet your match while on the holiday ... but if that's your main goal, an Encounter Travel holiday probably isn't the right place to find it.

The style of each holiday seems the biggest influence on the ratio of women to men.

Current travel industry trends show that more women are choosing to travel solo, and we see this in our bookings too.

Our resort-style singles holidays and New Year's Eve Cruise, which are all about relaxing, dining and socialising, usually have a closer balance of men and women.

For other trips; we mostly have more women than men join us, but everyone now and again, this is flipped and we've had some tours with more men than women.

We don't make a commitment to a gender balance. Our guests tell us that the destination and the opportunity to travel with a social bunch of solo travellers are the biggest draw cards, rather than a focus on the gender balance of a trip.

Taking your own room or sharing?  If you don't mind sharing, we'll do our best to match you with a same-sex buddy, and you'll both save.

Most of our travellers take their own room, but also on most trips there's at least a few travellers wanting to share, so we're pleased we can offer this option.

For our roommate matching service, we highlight the SHARE & SAVE option on the pricing page of our website so you can see the saving, when you do choose to share.

We want to make sure that when you share, you get a great night's sleep — so when you book to share, we ask for honesty about your sleep habits: snoring, CPAP machines for sleep apnoea, insomnia, or other things that might disturb a roommate - it means you're not a suitable roommate for any of these reasons, and unfortunately we can't offer you the roommate option. If everyone's honest, we can make sure everyone gets a good night's sleep! The consequence of not being honest can lead to awkwardness between 'roomies' or worse. It's important to know that we can't always secure an additional room for 'roomies' that don't get along, and if we can there are additional costs for this option.

We can't guarantee we'll be able to match you with roommate, although in most cases we can. We do know it can make a difference for some travellers, and that without a roommate available they may not be able to travel at all. We don't want you to miss out! If we can't find you a 'roomie' by the time the group is finalised, we'll get in touch to talk about your options including, on most tours, a reduced rate for your own room. If this isn't suitable, you can choose to opt out of the holiday and we'll provide a refund of your holiday deposit (so long as it's within the terms of the holiday at the time of your booking).

If you're keen to visit the destination and you fit the age group of the holiday then the trip is for you!

Most trips have a welcome meet-up with the group on the first night, so you'll get to know your travel companions in a relaxed and easy environment. The only time we don't arrange a welcome meetup on the first night is if flights arrive in late and the timing doesn't suit.

The majority of our bookings are from 'solo travellers', who are people booking and coming on their own. Sometimes, we have solo traveller friends join us too.

GENERAL TOURING

We believe less is more with small group touring - less queues, less waiting, a more boutique experience, and more chance of getting to know your fellow travellers. And better still, more personal interaction with your local tour guide. Because of our small groups, we have more freedom of choice of where our travellers stay and dine, with the option of selecting boutique and local experiences. These boutique experiences aren't possible for the large coach tours that are restricted to the big hotels and venues because of their large group size. A small group means a more local insight to each destination - and, you're not just 'another number'. We know from our traveller feedback that once you've toured in a small group, there's no going back to big group coach touring.

'SOLOS ONLY' HOLIDAYS

'Discovery'
On average, our discovery tours in Australia depart with around 12 to 16 people. Our maximum group size for any tour won't exceed 22 travellers, and for some tours, it's less.

Our international 'solos only' discovery tour sizes vary depending on the destination. The absolute maximum is not more than 26 travellers.

For most European and North American tours, most group size maximums are not more than 22 travellers.

For Asia, and developing nations, group size maximums may be as low as a 12-18 travellers.

The information about the group size and what to expect is provided for each tour on our website.

There's just one exception or big coaching tour fans - we offer one coach tour to New Zealand which caters for up to 48 solo travellers.

'Get Going'
Our active trips 'Get Going', for solos who like walking and adventuring in the great outdoors, are more intimate. Group sizes vary but as a guide, usually no more than 14 or 16 travellers. A group of 5 to 10 is not uncommon.


'Relax'

Our Relax holidays are resort-style trips. We usually have groups anywhere between 18 to 35 people, but the group size could be less or more.

Our years of travel experience have helped Encounter Travel hit the sweet spot of singles holidays – the best number of people, mixes of age, gender and style of trip.

Rest assured, we'll help you find the right solo trip for you. We match tours and trips based on personal preferences and age. In every group size, our solo travellers usually find like-minded people and have a lot of fun.

SOLOS MIX HOLIDAYS
These are the trips we hand pick from other tour operators. We only select them if they have smaller groups, and have a travel style that is a good fit with they way we believe is the best way to tour; a more leisurely pace and free time, with local dining experiences included. We avoid the big coach tours. The maximums for this group will be between 20 to 28 travellers, but more commonly tours depart with no more than 20- 24 passengers.

On our ‘Discovery’ tours, there’s planned group activities and also down time, creating the time for the freedom to make your own discoveries.

However, with our ‘Get Going’ active tours you may be in remote areas so mostly it’s a group experience through the day. In the evening, you’ll come together for dinner but you’ll find there’s time when you can retreat to your ‘own space’.  

We have a wide variety of travel styles but there’s always a group leader or otherwise local guides.

A group leader means the trip is escorted from the start to the end in each destination.  On some of the tours with very small group sizes, local guides are used in each destination, and the group is not fully escorted.  For clarity, your tour escort joins you on arrival,and not from Australia.

With our resort a packages a group coordinator from Encounter Travel is there to host the group. For our small group walking trips an experienced outdoor walking guide/s leads the group.

ACCOMMODATION

The 'Discovery' tours are our leisure tours. As a guide, the standard for 'discovery' touring between 3 - 4.5 star rated hotels. There are exceptions to this, and sometimes 5 star hotels are included.

We request all rooms as 'non-smoking', even if you advise us that you are a smoker. Ultimately the request is subject to availability and the hotel's discretion.

A lot of time goes into our hotel selection. Sometimes a 3 star hotel can be more favourable than a 4 star for any or a number or reasons; like the location and the character of the hotel. There are many 3 star hotels we select for their charm and character that reflect the local region and travellers are impressed by the standard, although not a 4 star rating.

Our 'Get Going' trips are our walking and adventure trips and accommodation varies. For each trip, we detail what to expect and provide the information on our website. It may be a private home or homes, local lodgings or inns, permanent tented camp sites, camping with permanent bathroom facilities, or even bushing camping. On some trips it may only be shared bathroom facilities. Some or even all of these places of stay may not use hotel star ratings.

‘Discovery’ Tours

As a general guide for our ‘discovery’ tours, expect a private ensuite bathroom with a shower, toilet, towels and soap, and in many cases bathroom amenities show as shampoos. As we mostly use 3 star hotels and above, expect a daily room service, and some premium hotels provide a ‘turn-down’ service.

  • Double Room for Sole Use:  For our ‘solos only’ tours we always contract our hotels to have the same room standard whether occupied by one traveller or two travellers sharing.

The background to this is that in Europe, hotels often have ‘single rooms’ for single travellers, that are a lesser size than there standard rooms they use for two people. The price of the room is less than a room for two people. But, it’s not something we’re used to in Australia, and for this reason we arrange all our rooms to be the same category room type, whether used by one person or two.

Note: we request double beds for all rooms for sole use but hotels will not guarantee availability. It’s not common but you may find you get a double room for sole use but with two beds. 

  • Safety Deposit Box: some hotels will have safety deposit boxes in the room, and some will just provide a safety deposit box service at reception (more common with 3 star hotels). 
  • Fridges: not all hotel rooms provide a fridge, or a mini-bar. This varies from hotel to hotel. If you require refrigeration for medical reasons, please check with us before you book.
  • Hair Dryers: usually hair dryers will be available in the room or at least available from reception.
  • Tea and coffee facilities:  there is not one standard for providing tea and/or coffee facilities in hotel rooms across the world.  In Australia this is more common. In the United States of America, more often it’s a coffee machine but without tea making facilities, and in some countries, neither are provided.
  • Bottled water: complimentary bottled water in rooms is regular in destinations where drinking tap water is not safe or not recommended, and then it’s generally only provided for free in quality hotels.
  • Wi-Fi: it’s becoming more and more common for hotels to provide Wi-Fi in hotel rooms and in common spaces of the hotel, and increasingly it’s more common to offer free Wi-Fi. Keep in mind, that some destination are remote and for this reason there are places of stay on some itineraries with no internet or Wi-Fi access whatsoever. Or, if it’s available it’s a charged service.

'On The Water'

If joining us for ocean or river cruising the general standard is mostly 4 stars or higher. It varies from ship to ship so please check the individual information for each of the cruises. There may be some offers where the standard is less than 4 star. Sometimes a tour may include an overnight cruise or a few nights, and the ship or boat standard may be less than a 4 star standard.

The cabin inclusions for 4 star ships and above are similar to that of 4 star hotels but may vary. If you have particular needs please check with us or the ship’s website.

DINING

We always list the meals included for each holiday on the 'inclusions' list. Then, on the itinerary, we state the days the meals are included.

Most itineraries include daily breakfast. The exception can be touring in United States of America where breakfast at hotels as an inclusion is less common.

Breakfast is almost, always included and you take breakfast at your leisure (and it’s not a group arrangement). However, more likely than not, you’ll meet up with our group members at breakfast also. 

The type of breakfast varies by hotel and destinations. At some hotels it’s a buffet breakfast, others it’s an American breakfast or at some, a continental breakfast. 

  • In Asia, a hot and cold buffet for 3 star and above is common usually with Asian and some Western breakfast options.
  • In Europe, some hotels limit breakfast to a continental style offer (cereals, toast and beverages), or otherwise an American Breakfast.
  • In The Americas, either an American breakfast or buffet is likely.

An American Breakfast is a simple a la carte menu with choices of breakfast that may included eggs, sliced bread or toast, pancakes with syrup, cereals, coffee or tea, and a juice. 

 

We know that dining while travelling should be a social time when the group can share stories about their travels, experience the local cuisine, and of course the chance to avoid dining alone - one of the main benefits of joining a group when you're a solo traveller.

'Solos Only' Tours
We believe the dining experience when you travel plays an important part of your travel experience, and include a number of dinners and/or lunches. We seek out highlight experiences - either they showcase the local cuisine, and/or include entertainment, and/or are considered a top ranking restaurant for the destination. For relaxed evenings, especially after a longer day out or on the road, we may include dining at your hotel.

'Solos Mix' Tours
Breakfast is usually included and we focus on selecting tours that have a good number of group lunches and/or dinners included.

One of the best things about joining tours with other solo travellers, is that other travellers in the group are also hoping to find a dinner or lunch buddy, and you can seek out options together.

Although we include many of the meals, we also know that solo travellers love to have the chance to seek out their own experiences or local recommendations, and it's why most of our itineraries will have some evenings free that you can enjoy at your leisure. Or, maybe you feel like some 'quiet time' and happy to have an in-house hotel meal or room service on your own.

Your tour guide is always a great source for local tips of where to eat. If you're a 'foodie, you may even like to use resources like Trip Advisor to plan ahead and experience something special on one of the evenings when a group dinner isn't included.

Sometimes, due to an early start or a longer day on the road, it may be necessary to have a boxed meal. It’s not often but when it’s necessary your tour guide arranges this with the hotel before you head off early (when the hotel restaurant is not yet open).

TRAVEL MONEY

We always recommend travelling with cash (but not too much at any one time) and credit or debit cards. You should carry at least two forms of money on a card such as a credit, debit or a travel money card.

ATM's are common place in major cities.

Travellers Cheques are for all intents and a purpose, are a travel money option of the past, and we don't recommend this as convenient.

Some Foreign Currency Purchase Options for Australian Travellers:
Travelex | NAB | CommBank | ANZ | Westpac

Check with your bank, some banks offer their customers reduced or no transactions fees on foreign currency purchase. Some banks and bureaus offer online order services

TIP#1: Separate to where you carry your travel money cards; have your bank's emergency contact for reporting lost and stolen cards.

TIP#2: If you are in more remote locations or just want to be sure, advise your tour guide well in advance of when you need to access an ATM. They can factor this into the next day's plans or let you know the best time and place to get to an ATM by your own arrangement.

TIP#3: Be prepared for higher credit card surcharge fees in developing nations, where they often impose service charges well in access of what we're used to in Australia.

TIP#4: Check your travel insurance policy for how much they cover you for in the event your wallet is lost or stolen. Most policies set limits on how much will be reimbursed e.g up to $200. Plus, for a claim you must have a completed police report of the incident.

Every destination varies, country to country.

Are you looking to shop or buy gifts? Do you like to splurge and treat yourself on lots of extras, and so you plan to on drinking alcoholic beverages?

Your personal budget could be very different to another's.  However, for our international discovery tours we make some basic recommendations based on what you need for extra meals, drinks and snacks. You'll find this information on our website for each tour.

As a broad guide, setting a budget for most European countries is not too dissimilar to Australia (Eastern Europe being generally less, or parts of Western Europe often a bit more). for Scandinavian countries mostly expect to be paying more than Australia. Asian countries, often less than Australia, and in North America similar to Australia.

The exchange rate of the day influences these costs. When the Australian dollar is strong against the currency of your destination you are visiting then you'll get more for your money.

For our international tours either the tipping is

  • included as part of your package
  • it’s required as a local payment at the start of your tour, or
  • it’s not compulsory and a personal choice.

Tipping is commonplace in many destinations around the world and is different to Australia where tipping is not customary. 

For some destinations, it makes up a part of the tour personnel wage or supplements a very low wage. We respect the tipping culture of each our destinations and set our tipping practice based on each destination’s standard.

When tipping is included as part of the package, we list this with the holiday inclusions – this means you’ve paid for it upfront. We pay this to our ground operator for your tour, who in turn pays the staff locally.

In some cases a local tipping payment is required. It’s paid to your tour guide at the start of the tour and they manage the tipping of tour personnel throughout the tour.

There’s no option to remove pre paid or locally paid tips from your package.

TRAVEL HEALTH, SAFETY and WELL BEING

In regards to your personal fitness, we detail important information in our Travel Fitness section.


The Australian Government, and many other governments provide a travel advisory service. The Australian site to visit is www.smartraveller.gov.au

A great starting point is Australian site, The Travel Doctor. It will give you a good idea and set your expectations.

You'll need to visit your doctor or a travel doctor specialist before you depart. Some destinations may recommend or require a series of vaccinations before you travel. Setting your appointment about eight weeks before you travel is a guide.

Also, we suggest asking your doctor about preparing a traveller's medical kit for your trip. Or your pharmacist can assist with a traveller medical kit for unprescribed items.

 

If you get sick or have an accident that may effect your ability to join the tour, visit your doctor without delay for the best advice for your suitability for travelling. If your doctor deems you unfit to travel, your travel insurance should cover the monies you've paid for your trip if you have to forgo your travels - at least then, when you recover you can still take the trip, but just at a different time.

There's peace of mind when travelling with a group that there's help close by. When it's just a sniffle or if you are a little unwell, you can check with your local guide about visiting a pharmacy. Or, if you need to see a doctor you can ask your guide or your hotel for help.

Also, if you believe you have an infectious condition, please alert your tour guide, and subject to availability they will try to get you a seat on your own on the tour vehicle.

TIP: When you visit your doctor pre departure, ask them about a traveller medical kit and what to pack.

We have a minimum standard to cater for vegetarians, gluten free, lactose intolerant and diabetic diets. However, from trip to trip it varies so you can find out more on our Before You Book – What To Know page.

Please note, that although we cater for vegetarians, gluten free, lactose intolerant and diabetic diets, and on occasion other diets, it can mean your choices are restricted. Some destination may not be suitable, depending on your requirements, so please ask us about this before you book.

ABOUT US

Encounter Travel was started in 2006, Sydney, Australia. Read our story.

We’d love to have you join the Encounter Travel community. 

Join our mailing list today  and follow us on Facebook so you’ll always get the latest news and information about upcoming tours. 

The Encounter Travel Tribe Facebook  group, exclusively for our past and current travellers, is a great place to start conversations, post photos and stay in touch before and after you’ve all travelled together.

Encounter Travel is an Australian-owned and operated online business based in Sydney, Australia.

We're an online travel company, offering the same level of service that you would find in any traditional travel agency. Our travellers like to communicate with us by phone, email, post. From time to time, we have solo traveller events in Sydney and Melbourne, then also in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast but less frequently. Our events are a great chance to 'dip your toe in the water', and meet with other solo travellers.

If you would like to ask any questions about our holidays, we're available on 1300 653 692 Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm (Sydney time).

We Pay For Your Call
The benefit of our 1300 653 692 number is that you only pay your carrier's connection fee (and we pay any timed costs of your call*). If you send us an email at holidays@encountertravel.com.au we'll get back to you usually the same day or, at busier times, by the next working day.

To find out about our next meet up sign up to the mailing list  and follow us on Facebook.

* there are some exceptions on some mobile phone provider plans where they also charge the caller to connect with 1300 numbers - please check with your provider for their terms.

We are accredited with the Australian industry organisation AFTA, Australian Federation of Travel Agents with ATAS accreditation. 

We are also a member of CATO, Council of Australian Tour Operators. Find out more.

The Book For Solo Travellers

The Solo Traveller’s Compass, How To Travel Solo But Not Alone reveals a solo traveller’s options to share in the fun of group travel experiences. Whether something is holding you back or you’d like to discover some new insights, this book will arm you with the know-how and confidence you need to embark on a solo adventure.