The Smart Way to Travel When You’re Over 60 and Going It Solo
Solo travel can be daunting.
Most of your life, someone else has handled the travel – the reservations, the research, the budgeting.
Now, suddenly, for whatever reason – it’s up to you. Not only do you have to plan it all, but you actually have to go. There. On your own.
And that can be scary.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be, because solo travel after 60 can be easy, safe, and, more than anything, fulfilling beyond your wildest dreams.
Solo Travel – Simplified
Yes, I did say easy, because there’s a method to it and following a few simple steps will put you in the right frame of mind to go out there and grab the world on your own terms.
Don’t wish for a partner. Accept that you’re going on your own, and you’ve won half the battle.
Choose a comfortable, familiar destination for your first trip, somewhere you won’t feel too out of place.
A weekend trip to a new city down the road. A country that’s socially similar – Canada, for example – or one where English is spoken, like England or Scotland or Ireland or, if you’re feeling intrepid, East or Southern Africa.
Make it short. That way you won’t have time to miss home, and if you feel the trip wasn’t long enough, you’ll be able to make the next one longer.
It is vital to have a plan. You can always throw it out the window but the comfort of knowing where you’re going and when will help boost your peace of mind.
Pat yourself on the back. You’ve got this. You’re doing it. It’s your trip and no one is going to take it away from you.
Solo Travel – The Safe Way
As we get older and the carefreeness of our youth occasionally evaporates, little worries begin seeping in. What if I get sick? What if I’m robbed?
Tell yourself this: any one of those things could happen at home. You don’t have to be in Paris or Pamplona. Yes, things happen. And yes, you can do a lot to make sure they don’t.
Plan for Your Health
Getting sick is no fun anywhere, least of all when you’re in a strange place by yourself. Your first line of defense is robust health insurance. If you get ill, at least you won’t have to sell everything you own to get medical attention.
The next thing to do is make sure you have the name of a reliable practitioner and hospital at your destination, someone who speaks English.
You can often get this from your Embassy, but you can also find this information online. You’ll feel a lot safer if you’re already armed with those phone numbers before you even land.
And if you’re staying in a hotel, know that hotels always have doctors either on call or on their roster: just ring reception if you’re feeling poorly.
Plan for Your Safety
Getting robbed is a common fear at any age. We’ve already left most valuables at home and the last thing we need is the theft of what little we’ve taken with us (not to mention the pain of having to hunt down some cash and cancel credit cards).
I have a few tricks I use when I’m traveling to make sure my stuff stays mine.
The first is to secure my hotel room. When I’m in it, I use an alarm system. It can be as simple as sticking a plastic wedge under the door or as sophisticated as a portable door handle alarm – you hang it on the doorknob and if someone tries to enter your room, the entire neighborhood will hear the siren.
When I’m out of my room, I often leave the radio on to discourage opportunistic thieves. I also never leave anything of value in my room.
I use a cross-body bag that’s nearly impregnable and my little laptop fits right into it. I sometimes alternate with an anti-theft daypack. And if I don’t have my laptop with me, I use a money belt (some of the wider ones are now made to be comfortable even for my expanding waistline).
The Joys of Solo Travel
Practical measures are well and good, but the true reward of solo travel comes from the accomplishment of coming home a changed person.
Imagine the fears and hurdles you overcame on your first trip – what an accomplishment! If you could do that, what else could you do?
Here are just a few by-products of solo travel: you’ll feel greater self-confidence, you’ll feel stronger and better able to cope with the unexpected, you’ll open up to the world… and you’ll be better able to face whatever life throws at you.
After all, you’ve just been away, alone, and you made it there – and back.
Now, bring on the next challenge!
What feelings does the concept of traveling solo evoke in you? How can you overcome them? Have you tried going somewhere on your own? How far from home did you go? What was the experience like? Please share with the women in our community.