Traveling solo and living like a local is a dream many older women share. The thought of immersing yourself in a culture you find fascinating is alluring. However, many mature women never take the plunge, letting their apprehensions override their desires. If you are looking for ways to travel off the beaten path but still feel safe and comfortable, you will enjoy today’s video with Shila Desai!
In today’s Sixty and Me interview, Margaret Manning and travel expert Shila Desai, creator of Eat Your Heart Out Tours discuss ways older women can tackle the sometimes scary, but ultimately rewarding challenge of traveling solo.
When traveling alone, you may feel the best option for accommodation is with a tried-and-trusted big name chain hotel. After all, large hotels are more often than not specifically designed to be an oasis from the bustling streets of large and unfamiliar surroundings. Although there is nothing wrong per se with doing this, it may not give you much of a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture.
The Internet has made a world of options available at the click of a button. Airbnb and Homestay are sites that have made it possible to not only stay in local neighborhoods but also spend time with local people.
By renting a room on one of these sites, you can stay in the home of a local person and perhaps even spend some time with them, seeing the city or community from their point-of-view. If you want to stay outside of tourist areas but prefer your space and privacy you can take the option of renting the entire place, with minimal interaction with the host.
If you want to find a place that covers your needs, it is critical to spend some time going through reviews of previous travelers. You might even get lucky enough and see a review from another woman over 60, looking for the same things you are!
Airbnb and Homestay are not the only options: as Margaret and Shila discuss in today’s Sixty and Me interview, there are also similar sites specifically designed for older women who are traveling.
As a woman over 60, traveling alone can be daunting especially if you like meeting and getting to know new people. Believe it or not, doing a few things before you embark on your adventure can make all the difference!
One of the best ways to endear yourself quickly to locals is to try and speak a bit of the language. A large vocabulary and perfect pronunciation are not required – it’s all about the effort.
Take the time to learn a few phrases before you leave; for example “where is the restroom” is undoubtedly handy in any language! There are many free apps available that teach some basic words and phrases, or even short, inexpensive courses on sites such as Udemy.
You will find you receive a positive response to your (perhaps) clumsy attempt, and even some interest in your plans or experiences!
Wearing clothing that is respectful of the local custom or culture is one of the best things you can do to fit in. It’s not only disrespectful in some cultures to wear low-cut or revealing clothing, but it can also be dangerous in some cases, especially for an older woman traveling alone.
Always be sure to look up information about what the expectations are for the area you are traveling to.
Margaret and Shila also discuss sites such as those dedicated to linking people with similar interests, tours conducted by locals, or activities such as volunteering. These are great options to consider when looking to meet like-minded people or helping to make a difference in your temporary local community- however big or small!
The biggest concern for many older women considering traveling alone is how to keep safe. The simplest way to ensure your safety is to plan ahead – both before you embark on your journey, as well as constantly throughout.
Before you leave, it is advisable to create an itinerary and give a copy to your family or a close friend. This should include information such as where you will be, the dates you arrive and depart, and contact information for accommodation.
Advise your loved ones when you expect to be in contact, or how often – or better yet, as Margaret advises, make a schedule. If you use social media sites, make sure you post often enough to assure everyone back home you are safe and sound – no less than once a week is preferable.
Never walk around looking at a map! It is a red flag to unscrupulous characters that you are out of your comfort zone and potentially lost. Margaret’s travel tip for when you are unsure of where you are is to go to a Starbucks or somewhere busy such as a café where there is Wi-Fi. This way, you can collect your thoughts or get your bearings in a safe environment.
Planning ahead before you leave your accommodation can help you look like a relaxed local, rather than a scared and confused tourist. If you are reasonably sure of where you are going you will also look confident!
Where would you like to travel and live like a local? What do you do to prepare before a big trip? How do you make sure you feel safe and confident when traveling? What do you love about traveling over 60? Let us know!