If you would like to travel solo and are in your fifties, this is probably the right time to seriously consider it and take the plunge. Like Connie – who travelled alone at 63 – it's never too late to start travelling solo!
Over the past 10-15 years we have been witnessing a cultural change in the way women travel. They have become aware of their need to step out of defining roles and make experiences on their own.
The good news: Never than before solo travel has been so easy!
Not only female solo travel has become widely accepted in our society, it is also changing the parameters in the travel industry. With nearly 30% of women who have already experienced a single trip and around 60% showing interest in giving it a try, travelling alone has become more appealing and affordable compared to the travel scenario of 25 years ago.
How to identify the best ways to travel solo
There are many ways to start travelling and choosing solo travel destinations. It depends on the type of travel you have in mind and how you want to start with.
When I started travelling on my own, there were not many opportunities for women. It was unusual to see a woman going places alone. Nowadays the growing demand for single trips and tailor-made travel services have made the options for the solo traveller varied and affordable.
Here below are 4 of the best ways that you can consider for your first solo adventures.
Solo vs Group – How to combine tours with solo travel
What has group travel with solo travel to do? Well, it's not really what solo travel per se is about. While for some hitting the road and getting lost is the way, for many other women in their fifties joining a tour is the only viable way to get out and about. Although it's not my preferred way to travel, I must say that there are benefits. Having your trip organized by a reliable OTA, or a tour operator who takes off the trip planning hassle and do all the booking activities it can be a great way to ignite your enthusiasm for travelling. So I wouldn't discard this idea if it can be the first step towards a more independent way of travelling. For solo travel addicts – like myself – a tour is a good way to rekindle the group spirit which inevitably fades over the years. My tour adventure in the Kimberley Australia, last year, was an eye-opener for me. I realised that joining a tour was a necessary step for me to create a balance and maintain my team skills alive.
Ways to book a tour as a female single traveller at fifty plus
There are many tour companies and online travel agencies that specialise in group travel packages and cater for the female solo traveller at fifty plus. I recently stumbled upon this great tour booking site that compares over 20 top tour operators – operating worldwide – offering many specials and early bird deals too.
Cultural travel and city travel using public transport
Cultural travel is a classic that works fantastic for many women in their fifties, who are keen to start travelling alone. It works great for the first time traveller, because it's easy, handy and safe. If you fear of feeling alone in your first adventures, exploring cities – in your own country or overseas – is probably the best way to go. Either a long weekend or a couple of weeks holiday, you can build a city travel itinerary within one or more countries. Train travel is a suitable way of getting around that makes city travel easy and safe in many countries in Europe, US and Australia. This is how I started to travel solo: Germany, Austria and UK were the first countries I visited on my own. I loved crossing Germany by train and discovering its cultural landmarks. From Hamburg and Berlin, to southern Germany, where I fell in love with Munich, a fascinating German city which then became my expat home for 12 years!
How to get around and where to stay at fifty plus
If you choose city travel for your first solo escapes, you don't have to worry about how to get around. Most cities offer a large and safe public transport network, walking and biking are among the best options to public transport. Staying in private homes with airbnb is an economical way, next to hostels.
While airbnb is a great way of getting close to the locals for short stays, house sitting is the perfect solution for the long-term traveller, because it allows you to stay for free in exchange of looking after the house and taking care of pets while the onwers are away.
Cruising solo as a female single traveller at fifty plus
If you think that cruising solo 20 years ago was a no-go because of the high prices – unless you were travelling with a travel companion – cruising for the single traveller was not on the table. In the last years an increasing number of cruising companies started to cater for this new market segment to suit the needs of many single travellers, especially retired and mature travellers, who are keen to go cruising. For many women in their fifties, it's a great way to combine cultural and international travel without the hassle of getting each single trip leg organized. Intercontinental and round-the-world cruising is also becoming very popular to cover long distances and see much of the world on one go. Check out this post with the best tips on how to choose the right company for your solo cruising adventure.
Volunteering opportunities for the female solo traveller
If you are more adventurous and plan to travel solo on long-term, then volunteering may be something for you. In South America, Africa and South East Asia there are plenty of opportunities. There are various kinds of volunteering from children education, animal care, to construction and land conservation and many more. There are quite a few websites online like helpx offering interesting volunteer opportunities or you can read this article if you are interested in volunteering in other parts of the world.
I also joined an Australian volunteer project on my trip in 2011, I became a wildlife warrior looking after injured and sick koalas at the Australia Wildlife Hospital in Queensland.
Tips on how to get started to travel solo at fifty +
I think first of all you shall make clear what you want to do with your first solo trip. I personally would suggest starting with city travel or anything easy along that way. You can go from there and see how you like it and in which direction it takes you. After my European city travel in 1993 I went to New York, Chicago Toronto by bus and loved it.
But what worked for me may not be the right thing for you.
I would encourage you to diversify your solo adventures as much as you can. if you feel like joining a tour, leave some time for yourself too. This will help boost your confidence. Give yourself time to naturally grow into the next adventure and set a higher goal.
When I backpacked alone around Australia in 2004, I used safe public transport like buses, trains, flights and joined tours for road trips like the Great Ocean Road and Tasmania, etc. After that I felt ready to drive a car by myself and now I nearly drive everywhere by myself.
Final thoughts on female solo travel at fifty plus
While your age or the lack of a travel buddy should not refrain you from travelling solo, you must also consider that going places solo is certainly a fun and empowering way to travel, but it is also challenging. The more you do it, the more you will like it or hate it. 🙂
It's a good thing to create your own way – that best suits you – there is no right or wrong way of doing it. As long as everything in the equation has the right balance and makes you feel comfortable in your own skin, then go with it. Travel solo, have fun, learn and repeat. And most importantly do it your way!
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