To many seniors the idea of solo travel may seem daunting and out of reach. But it is heartening to know the majority of solo travelers are boomers.
Retirement is the perfect time to focus on ‘you’ time and explore the next chapter of your life through travel. With healthy nutrition and proper exercise, you have many years ahead to embrace fullfilment and purpose in your life.
With solo travel you don’t have to compromise on your choices or your time and you can focus on only your needs! If you care for an ill partner, solo travel can provide a brief escape to provide the refreshment you need so you can return to your life with a renewed sense of your own self.
Saint Augustine who is best known for his fourth century Christian and theological teachings and is especially prophetic when it comes to travel says this, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.”
Now is the time to put yourself first and go on that trip you have always wanted to! Let’s now take a look at some travel tips while traveling solo.
If you are a woman, some travel agencies focus only on women. Travel is tailored for single women and they know that some women like variety in their experiences and like to bond with other women. It’s a great way to explore fascinating destinations with like-minded women and develop life long friendships.
Many companies that offer group travel allows time for the group to explore local culture and sights keeping senior travellors needs in mind. Look for companies that offer a single supplement charge for a solo traveller. As a solo travelor you can usually choose to share a room or have your own room for comfort and privacy.
If you are shy, joining a travelling group helps to have an enjoyable and fun solo travel by sharing laughter and humour. Friendships are sometimes formed that are long lasting and you may find a future companion travellor. Group tours are usually between 6 and 12 people so the group can get to know one another and feel part of a group, rather than just a number on a bus and be sure to pick a quality travel agency that has a good track record. Do your research on travel agents and tour agencies and seek out recommendations from friends who have traveled and read up customer reviews on the Internet.
If you’ve never travelled solo before, you can start with a short weekend trip to get used to being on your own while travelling. A short weekend trip can help to figure out what travel experiences you enjoy, what you want to do and where you want to go when you take longer trips. You’ll quickly catch the bug for solo travel!
Choose a city you’ve always wanted to visit for a weekend away or a quick getaway such as hiking in nature on well established trails. Check in with the tourism office at your destination to see what attractions are recommended. You don’t have much time so plan ahead.
If you are going to a big city, many things happen all at once such as open mic, festivals or art exhibitions. Make sure you do your research so you can focus on what intrigues you. Research the city’s transportation system such as subways, buses or trains. Knowing before you go will help to not waste your time during your trip!
Stay away from the “what ifs” and pack lightly. You will only be away for a few days and it’s always nicer to travel with lighter luggage. You will also pay less if you’re going by plane. You will soon discover how much easier it is to travel with less luggage.
Don’t Look Like a Tourist
Blend in with the locals as much as possible. Leave your jewelry at home and wear clothes that don’t scream tourist. To avoid looking confused or lost, check your travel apps and guidebooks before heading out for the day. You want to know exactly where you’re going and how to get there. Start with a one- or two-hour bus or boat tour to become familiar to the area’s attractions and help you determine what you’d like to explore in more depth.
Carry Extra Cash
If you run out of money or it get’s stolen, it can increase the risk of making you vulnerable. You may be stuck somewhere and have no way of getting back to your accommodations. Hide a large bill or credit card in a hidden picket of your jacket or in the sole of your shoe, somewhere safe just in case!
Keep ID and Cards Safe
Always carry your passport with you in a secret pocket or safe wallet. Have photocopies of your identification and store it somewhere safe. Bring backup IDs with you, and carry it in more than one place. Make sure someone at home has a copy of your travel plans and identification as well.
Watch Out For Scams
When travelling to a destination, find out the distance and costs ahead of time. How far is it from the airport to your accommodations and what it costs to get there. Ask cab drivers for the estimated fare before you get in. If it seems suspicious, take another cab. In some cases, the hotel or resort may have their own shuttle or tour bus.
It’s fun to hang out and make new friends but be careful who you trust when you meet them. Scam artists can be very charming so keep your wits about you and don’t share your travel route or hotel room number.
Embassies and Consulates
Your country will most likely have emergency consular assistance with a directory of your embassies and consulates abroad. They can help with replacing a lost or stolen passport, providing contact info for local doctors and hospitals, and help contact friends and relatives in emergency situations to request assistance in sending money or airline tickets. Register with your government officials before you leave so they can contact and assist you in an emergency or notify you of an emergency at home.
Keep everything including receipts. Pick up a few postcards. If you visit a pub, take the coaster. Print out some of your favourite pictures. Put everything in a box or make a collage or put in a journal. Make a place for your memories so you can go back in time to enjoy those carefree travels.
Don’t go cheap on the food – dine out! Often, each region or each city can have one tasty dish they are particularly proud of. And most probably, if you ask any locals, they will say it would be a sin to visit their city and not try it at least once. Check what’s in store in the place you’re going to and make sure you include it in your budget beforehand, it can definitely make your little trip more delicious!
Enjoy the Local Food
Each city or region you visit have their own cultural tasty dishes. Don’t go cheap and be sure to dine out to experience the cuisine! Ask locals which places you should check out and what their favourite food is and visit an authentic restaurant. Do your research to find out what sort of food and cuisine they have so that you are not completely clueless. Seek out street food and Michelin-starred restaurants and veer off the beaten path.Take authentic cooking classes if you have the time. Take the road less traveled for the best food experience ever!
Visit the local market to immerse yourself with colorful and delicious aromas from the food stalls. Sample the food and chat with the farmers and artisans. It’s a great place to find homegrown food products, fresh fruit and vegetables.
The faint aroma of something you ate on vacation can instantly take you back to the time when you first experienced it. So when you travel do not eat food that you eat at home. You can eat at a Macdonald’s or Starbucks anytime!