When senior women travel alone, we need to be aware of much more than
the ordinary traveler, yet it is becoming increasingly popular. I
personally know several women who love this type of senior singles
travel and who have been very successful with it.
Whether you’re pursuing a special interest, learning something new, perhaps finding a hobby, doing something familiar, de-stressing, or taking some alone time, solo travel can be really rewarding. But there are a few things to consider first.
Read the advice our guest writer from London, a specialist in
the field of travel, has to share about this topic.
Advice for Women Traveling Alone
by Alexandra Pett
Traveling alone can be quite an intimidating prospect, especially if you’re female. There are different considerations for a woman traveling alone, particularly later in life, and these might at first seem rather off-putting. However, there are many thousands of adventuresses who set out to see and experience new places every year and have a wonderful time doing it.
Whether you’re intent on climbing Mount Etna in Sicily, exploring the jungles of Vietnam, trekking the wilds of Alaska, or even shopping on Fifth Avenue, don’t be put off by those niggling doubts and apprehensions. Here are a few tips on how to have a fantastic (and safe) time when senior women travel alone.
Plan your trip carefully – You don’t have to go over the top with the planning to the point where your journey is completely inflexible and falls down at the first missed connection, but do sit down before you go and sensibly work it all out. Plan the route, roughly how long you want to spend in each destination, as well as what you think you might like to do there.
When senior women travel, it is important to educate and inform yourself on the places you’re going, what to expect when you get there, and how long it will take to get around. This will reduce pre-departure nerves and mean you’re able to think on your feet and cope much better with unexpected situations than if you fly out unprepared.
Think about being alone – This might be the one thing you’re trying not to think about, but if you’re planning a long traveling session, then do consider whether you can handle being alone that long. If you don’t think about this in advance, then you may end up cutting your trip short and flying home. And that would be a shame for all concerned.
Most people will cope well when it comes to a month’s traveling, but three months without constant company can be rather overwhelming when senior women travel alone. If you are setting out on a lengthy trip, then remember to pre-plan communication points with those back home – such as cities that are likely to have internet cafes, payphones, etc. – as well as opportunities for making new friends or meeting up with old ones.
But don’t feel lonely – When senior women travel on their own, it doesn’t have to feel lonely. Choose your accommodations smartly – the larger and more impersonal the hotel, the less likely you will be able to interact with fellow guests. Small, personal B&Bs, hostels, boutique hotels and shared rooms will encourage interaction and discourage loneliness. Don’t be afraid to talk to other people – especially those also traveling alone.
As long as you’re sensitive and don’t force yourself on people in situations where they want to be alone, most will open up and chat. Perhaps think about inviting a friend out to join you for a part of the trip, or plan to stay with someone during your travels – even if the connection between you is distant, you will avoid that feeling of being adrift that can be unsettling if you don’t see anyone you know for a long time.
Face the dangers head on – Traveling alone makes all of us feel more vulnerable to issues such as theft, attack and harassment. However, thousands of women travel each year without experiencing any of these problems.
If these are fears for you then take some practical precautions – an attack alarm, a padlock for your door, a mobile phone, as well as avoiding lonely areas at night, taking cash from cash machines after dark and displaying valuables for all to see. Ensure you’ve got the right insurance in place before your trip and be cautious with those you meet. Be wary and look out for intentions which may not be entirely honourable, but don’t close yourself off from new faces entirely through fear.
Be part of a group – When senior women travel solo, you can also be part of an organised tour if you want to still enjoy the experience of solo travel with a safety net. Tours usually allow for as much or as little interaction as you want to have with others on the trip, depending on the tour you pick.
Volunteering is also a great way when senior women travel, to explore alone within the safety of an organization. Whether you’re building homes in Africa or carrying out surveys in the deepest darkest Amazon, VSO (Volunteers Overcoming Poverty -- www.vso.org.uk) is a well-known volunteering organisation with links all over the world. If you are on a budget then look out for exchange programmes where you can swap your life for another for awhile, or be paid for hard work in food and lodging.
Willing Workers on Organic Farms (www.wwoof.og.uk) is an example of an exchange programme that offers the chance to help out on organic farms around the world (not just the heavy lifting jobs!) that will give you the chance to meet people, pick up new skills and eat some great organic grub.
Become part of a network – there are a number of organisations out there that are tailored to women traveling alone. They provide links to others looking for traveling companions, as well as hospitality exchanges.
Women Welcome Women (www.womenwelcomewomen.org) is one such organisation where woman can stay with other members around the world; and Woman Traveling The World (www.womentravelingtheworld.com) matches up groups of women looking to see the same sights who are going to be traveling alone. Just a note: be wary of those websites that match up female traveling companions with men, as these may be more like a dating site.
Traveling is a joy at any age, but particularly so when you have the time and the enthusiasm to do it properly. With a few sensible plans in place and some safety nets to make you feel more comfortable, it will be a life-enhancing experience that you’ll no doubt want to repeat!
…..Alexandra Pett, on behalf of Insure and Away, is a freelance writer based in London with a love for traveling.
No matter what part of the world you live in (or want to travel to), it seems there are organizations galore that can be plugged into when senior women travel. And don’t forget organized cruises, senior travel groups, as well as Elder Hostel. Whatever the reason–whether you want organized alone-time, or truly alone alone-time – don’t hesitate to give it a try. Check out the ideas on this page and see what appeals to you.
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