The idea of traveling alone can be intimidating at any age but that doesn’t mean you should stay at home. With senior citizens travel groups on the rise, solo travel over 50 turns one of the most rewarding life experiences into an incredibly realistic one. Single senior travel tours allow you to see the world and make lasting relationships along the way.
Here are 10 solo senior travel tips you need to know to stay safe and create memories you’ll never forget!
1. Create Your Bucket List
Put the pen to paper (or type it up in the notes section of your tablet or cell phone) and get to work! Write down all of the experiences you’d like to have and the sights you’d like to see. Once you have everything written down, you can organize your travels by location. After all, how are you ever going to see the ruins of Machu Picchu, swim with the fish in the Great Barrier Reef, or kiss the Sphinx in Egypt if you never figure out where you want to go!
2. Use Your Time to Save
If you’ve reached the age of retirement and have the flexibility to travel whenever you choose, it’s wise to plan your travels during the shoulder season to cut costs and avoid both crowds and temperature extremes. In travel-industry speak, the year is divided into three seasons: peak season (busiest and most expensive), shoulder season (right before or immediately after peak season) and off-season. By scheduling your trip during shoulder season, you’ll find cheaper rates, fewer crowds, and often times a warmer welcome from the locals.
3. Find a Group Tour
You may start out on your own, but that doesn’t mean you need to travel in isolation. There’s an abundance of single senior travel tours out there. Especially if you’re a senior woman traveling alone, a group tour can offer the opportunity to meet new people while adding a layer of safety and security so you can travel in confidence.
Road Scholar offers single senior travel tours with hundreds of options to choose from. The user-friendly website allows you to filter through trips based on activity level, interests, destination, and duration. So whether you want to learn photography in one of our US National Parks or take a walk on the wild side next to the Zambian zebras along the Zambezi River, Road Scholar offers trips that pique your interest at a price you can afford.
4. Start With a City
If the idea of group travel doesn’t strike your fancy and you’re truly hoping to go at it alone, consider easing in with a city trip, either in the United States or abroad. Spending a few days alone in an unfamiliar city is an easy way to stay busy and feel content in your own company. A city trip is a great option for solo travel over 50 because it allows you to check out landmarks and museums you’ve always wanted to see while still giving you time to wander and soak up all a city has to offer. Many cities now offer hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses like City Sightseeing that offer multilingual tour guides with bus stops steps away from your favorite attractions.
5. Go On a Cruise
Seas the day and set sail! Cruises are a fantastic option to see multiple cities in one trip. With an abundance of activities offered in a relatively confined environment, cruises can provide a unique way meet new people while traveling. Holland America usually caters to seniors, while still offering a great variety of trips. Cruises offer great entertainment options and classes like bridge and dancing.
Interested in meeting other singles? Singles Cruise offers cruises for specific age groups, allowing you the opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals within your age group.
6. Pursue Your Passion
If you’re interested in learning a new skill or pursuing a lifelong passion, special interest travel works well for solo senior travelers. To find a niche tour or cruise, do a Google search of the following: “[your hobby or interest] + tours or cruises” (for example, rock climbing tours). Oftentimes you can find small group non-traditional tours or cruises that allow you to travel with people who are interested in pursuing their same passions. Road Scholar is also great resource for this type of travel.
7. Give Back with Voluntourism
Why not kill two birds with one stone and volunteer while you’re traveling? Try Voluntourism! Combining overseas travel with volunteer service allows you to immerse yourself in a different culture and while giving back. The opportunities are endless! Teach English, build homes or schools for those in need, care for orphaned children, or save the sea turtles. Whichever path you choose, Voluntourism offers a unique experience for solo travel over 50.
While it is necessary for you to cover your own expenses with most of voluntourism opportunities, if the organization is a nonprofit, some costs like airfare can be deductible. To ensure you’re giving back to verifiable causes, we recommend picking an organization that is member of Volunteer International.
8. Pack Light
The last thing you want to struggle with while traveling alone is your luggage. Aim to fit it all in a roll-aboard suitcase. To lighten your load, take fewer clothing items and do laundry more often. So pack the essentials and leave the rest behind.
If you need to check your bag, be sure to have all of your medications in a carry on bag with you. Carry an extra pair of eyeglasses and bring spare batteries for hearing aids. A magnifying glass can come in handy for reading detailed maps and small-print schedules and a small notebook is useful for jotting down facts and reminders like your hotel room number and relevant stops. This will also ease your anxiety about forgetting important details.
8. Watch Your Feet
As we age, we heal less quickly but this isn’t a reason not to travel. Pay attention to where you put your feet. Old cobblestone roads can be hard on ankles of all ages. Don’t get so distracted by the sights that you misstep somewhere, forcing you to go home early.
9. Insure Your Travels (and Your Health) With Travel Insurance
If you’re looking to cut costs, don’t do it here. Seniors pay more for travel insurance because they are more likely to need it. Before you set out on your travels, find out how your medical insurance works overseas. (For example, Medicare is not valid outside the United States except in very limited circumstances.) Consider additional travel insurance and pay attention to evacuation insurance, which covers the substantial expense of adequate medical care in case of an emergency.
10. Take Advantage of Senior Travel Discounts
Senior discounts aren’t limited to the United States. Always ask about discounts, even if you don’t see information posted about one. To find out more about senior travel discounts, visit AARP or the Association of Mature American Citizens.
Traveling alone is one of the most rewarding adventures and age shouldn’t stop you from having the time of your life. Follow these senior solo travel tips to stay safe on your trip (and have fun while doing it!).