With the world being the way it is and the insatiable human instinct for pigeonholing one another, no one really talks very much about women over a certain age travelling alone.
Let’s face it - you say ‘solo traveller’ to someone and they are most likely to picture a young backpacking type in their 20s, or else a middle aged businessman. Not a woman of grandparenting age jetting off on her holidays alone, nevermind traipsing the continents in search of adventure.
But so much for people’s expectations. The truth is, as the responsibilities of careers and families start to lighten, your later years can be the best time in your life to travel. And why wouldn’t a woman over 50 want to travel solo? Never mind convention - if you want the ultimate me time, if you want complete freedom to set your own agenda and plan your trips exactly the way you want, travelling alone is perfect.
However, if you have never done it before or at least not for many years, making the leap to plan that solo trip can take a little courage. But don’t let the unknown get in the way - here are some key things to bear in mind, and after that, the world is your oyster.
Research Your Destination
Letting yourself be carried wherever the wind blows may sound romantic and adventurous, but there are good reasons why doing your homework about a destination makes practical sense for the solo traveller. For one, this is your treat - pick somewhere you are going to absolutely love. It can make a big difference if you have a basic idea about transport systems, where key places are located, and what to do in an emergency before you set off.
Especially if you have been used to the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to family holiday luggage in the past, be prepared to break those habits. Being overburdened by heavy baggage can make travelling a miserable experience, especially in hot climates. It also greatly restricts your mobility and freedom. Only take what you absolutely need - you can either do without or buy the rest.
Many problems faced abroad stem from loss of money, passports, tickets and other property, whether accidental or otherwise. A lot of hassle and headaches can be avoided by simple steps such as taking photos of credit cards, passports, tickets and other key documents on your phone, or emailing them to yourself or a friend. That way, you will be able to arrange to withdraw money even if your card is cancelled, and getting the right documents to get home will be a lot easier. Take similar steps with essential contact numbers, including emergency services, your bank and travel insurance policy provider. Finally, always leave your contact details and planned itinerary with someone you trust.
Look into Planned Activities
Even if you are not one to go all in for group activity holidays, planning some structured activity time when you are away can be a good way to meet other travellers. This is especially helpful if you are feeling a little anxious about travelling alone. It could simply be joining in group excursions, or it could be getting involved in an activity you enjoy or are keen to try, such as diving, trekking or even yoga.
Finally, make sure you have the right sort of protection if something does go wrong while you are away. Travel insurance gives you extra peace of mind in the event of losing money or property, but it also means your costs are covered should you fall ill or get injured while abroad. Make sure you declare any medical conditions you have, and consider a policy which provides specific cover for your conditions. Go with a reputable provider and make sure you understand exactly what you are covered for. If you are unsure about anything, ask.
Avanti Travel Insurance specialises in policies for the over 50s. It offers a range of single trip and multi destination cover and also provides policies covering specific pre-existing medical conditions. To learn more about Avanti’s services and products, visit www.avantitravelinsurance.co.uk.
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