By: Guest Author
Published: September 18, 2023
Written by Sarah Kaminski- Guest Contributor
Solo travel, especially if you’ve never done it before, sounds terrifying. When alone, people are not only scared for their safety. They also dread the awkwardness of having all eyes on them while trying to capture a selfie or eating a meal alone. Women often feel even more uncomfortable in these sorts of situations. Women over 50 can be even more reluctant to travel.
However, the number of women over 50 who travel alone is growing. This is the period in our lives we should devote to ourselves. So, take some time off work, leave your chores to others, and pack your bags!
Why Travel Alone?
On my first solo trip, I cringed at the thought of being the only single person in a tour group, and I feared the idea of striking up a conversation with a stranger. Before that, it was weird even being alone at the airport. However, after just one day, I was proud of myself for pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. It gets easier with every moment.
This leap helped me reflect, analyze, and assess my possibilities without the input of others.
Solo travel is helpful if you want to get comfortable in your skin again. It is also the perfect opportunity for growth. When alone in unfamiliar terrain, you will need to stand up for yourself and cope with uncomfortable situations. But you will achieve it all by yourself. This will make you more confident.
One of the most obvious answers to the question ‘Why travel alone’ is that you are making all of the decisions. You get to choose the destination and the accommodation. You will make plans on which sights to visit and when. This can be very rewarding.
As I mentioned, feeling scared is natural. Acknowledge the fear, and dive deep into its source. If your fear is rational, find rational answers to it. If it is something deeper, talk to someone.
Doing your homework on the destination definitely helps to deal with travel anxiety. Read travel guides and online reviews. Practice your language skills or some key phrases. Learn about the local culture. Talk to someone who has already visited the destination and maybe join an online community of travelers.
Tips for 50+ Solo Travelers
Choose a Solo-traveler-friendly Destination
It can be challenging to find a safe travel destination, especially for women. Safety should be your first concern. According to a 2023 analysis, Japan is the safest country for solo travelers. Other countries that made it to the top of this list are Switzerland, Croatia, and Slovenia. For women traveling alone, people usually recommend Finland, Canada, New Zealand, Uruguay, Chile, Ireland, Belgium, and others. If the country you want to visit is not on this list, make sure to get informed on safety.
You should get acquainted not only with the local customs and attractions you want to see but also with the area, accommodation, and places to eat and drink before you book anything. Check the prices and entrance fees for museums, galleries, etc. See the public transportation options. Make sure you have travel insurance and health insurance.
Find a Convenient Flight and Pack Light
Booking your flight early will make the rest of the planning easier. You will also be able to see and choose from various options and maybe choose a direct flight over the one with the transfer. If you want to find a flight that won’t break the bank, be flexible with your dates and use different flight search sites.
The ticket will be cheaper if you have only your carry-on with you. But this is not the only reason why packing light is wise. On my first solo trip, I had a carry-on and a checked-in suitcase. Dragging all of that up and down the stairs was a hellish experience. And in the end, I didn’t even need all of the things.
Choose an Accommodation That Suits Your Needs
Online you’ll find a lot of tips that recommend hostels for solo travelers. However, this is great for younger tourists. When you’re 50+ you’ll want something like small hotels, guest houses, or B&Bs. If you’re staying for a longer period, booking an entire apartment via Airbnb is a great way to go.
Go out, Eat, Drink
Some people are self-conscious about going out alone. Don’t let that ruin your trip. If it is awkward to eat alone in the restaurant, choose a table in the corner away from the main eating area or a window seat facing out. Once you feel more comfortable, you can choose another one or even sit at the bar and meet new people. You can even find places where travelers usually meet up to share tips and find walking buddies for tours.
Finally, have fun. Enjoy every minute of it. Follow the plan, but don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and take on a new adventure, as long as it is safe.
Sarah Kaminski is a life enjoyer, positivity seeker, and a curiosity enthusiast. She is passionate about an eco-friendly lifestyle and adores her cats. She is an avid reader who loves to travel when time allows.
The views expressed herein this article, written by a guest contributor, do not necessarily represent those of the Red Hot Mamas organization. The content is for informational purposes and should not substitute the advice of your doctor.