Not everyone wants to travel alone, but sometimes circumstances dictate that we need to. At other times it might be a conscious decision to leave the rut of routine and responsibility and head off with no more than a backpack or suitcase on your own without anyone else to think about.
Whichever camp you fall into to, I think you’ll enjoy this guest post by Michela Fantinel who’s been travelling alone for 25 years, as she discusses the whys and the wherefores and offers tips so that you can – Just Do It!
Solo Travel after 50 by Michela Fantinel
Solo Travel is the best life experience! I believe that every woman should try at least once in her life. I’ve been travelling for 25 years and I can say I’ve become addicted to it 🙂
Are you feeling called to travel? But is fear of going alone holding you back?
In reality solo travel is easier and more fun than you may imagine! When you step out and hit the road fear will quickly dissipate. And you will start loving your company more than ever!
“It’s beautiful to be alone. To be alone does not mean to be lonely. It means the mind is not influenced and condemned by society.” Jiddu Krishnamurti.
Why travel solo?
Solo travel is empowering. When you travel alone, everything is up to you.
When you need something done, you just do it and follow through. You become more accountable and self-confident. You are aware of your environment and this makes you strong. Most importantly you decide how to do things. You naturally attract attention for help, information, advice or just a chat. This is definitely the best part of solo travel. You will see how easy it is to strike up a conversation with strangers, to create connections and make new friends.
People will be kind and generous to you! People will love you!
If you are thinking of going solo, here are a few tips to get you started with your first solo adventure.
1 First time solo? Start small
Don’t put too much on your plate. You don’t have to start with a challenging Round The World trip.
Start with something small. Choose a place you feel called to, with activities you love. For some, it may be a city trip, for other sport lessons, a hiking trail or an outdoor adventure, a photography workshop, an exotic spa-wellness retreat or maybe volunteer work.
You might also like: 10 Reasons to book a cycle cruise holiday
2 Avoid un-supportive criticism
If you want to start travelling solo you need a positive environment. There is nothing worse than people who pity you or try to talk you out of your solo project. Un-supportive comments, criticism, and judgements will come up all the time, but these will only contribute to hold you back. Listen, respect and go your way. Surround yourself with like-minded people who support you emotionally.
“I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.” – Oscar Wilde
3 Create a supportive network
If I look back to when I started travelling solo, I’m amazed at how things have changed. The number of female solo travellers is increasing enormously and that’s great. Do connect with other women, who share the same enthusiasm for solo adventures. Solo Travel is all about freedom and networking. Find a group or a solo travel forum on the internet. I can recommend the Australian based BroadsAbroad, a new international travel network for women, above 50 who love to travel on their own. You can sign up for free to share thoughts, ideas, projects and meet up and also stay with like-minded women.
4 Where to Stay – Meet the locals
I remember how lost I felt lost in a huge hotel room, in New York. It was my first solo trip abroad in the 90s. Nowadays there are more accommodation options: From budget hostels to rooms in private homes, to home-stay in farms.
Hostels and private rooms are good for cities, a home stay can be a good choice in rural areas. Hostels offer kitchen facilities, and communal areas, ideal to meet fellow solo travellers. In the last years I have discovered private accommodation as a more intimate way of meeting the locals and I really enjoyed it. If you don’t mind looking after someone else’s house and pets, then house-sitting could be your thing. Happy House Sitters and Aussie House sitters are good membership sites for Australia.
5 How to stay safe – Trust your instincts
When you are alone you must feel comfortable. If, for any reason, you don’ feel comfortable, then leave the place. Use common sense. Trust your instincts. They always show you the right way. Before leaving to a foreign country research your area and make sure the place is safe. Be respectful, stay with the locals and ask about the do’s and dont’s. Adjust to the local environment, as much as you can. If the place has a strong cultural and religious background, blend in by wearing their clothes and eating their food.
Tip: Back-up your safety tactics. Don’t forget travel insurance.
6 How to find the best deals – Be well organised
Travelling solo does not have to cost a fortune. Hotels are the most expensive way to stay as a solo woman, but you can ask whether the single supplement can be waived. Make bookings at least 2-3 months ahead to get the best deals. For car rentals, book the smallest car available, you may be lucky and get a free upgrade to a higher class. I can recommend Sky Scanner for the best flights deals and Drive Now for cars deals.
For hotel price comparisons and to find the best hotel deals around the world click Here.
“Loneliness adds beauty to life, it puts a special burn on sunsets and makes night air smell better.” Henry Rollins
7 Solo Travel Blues – welcome the “Feeling lonely” syndrome
No matter how much you love travelling alone, chances are you are going to feel lonely, sooner or later. It’s all part of it and you should treasure those moments! You can look for the buzz and hang-outs. In cities, go to a shopping mall, a walking area, a trendy cafe. Visit a museum or an exhibition. Exercise: Jog, hire a bike, go to a fitness centre. Strike up a conversation with a stranger. Get in touch with your women travel network and arrange to catch up for a coffee.
Solo travel can be daunting, scary, challenging and fascinating at the same time, I know.And that’s why I love it so much. No matter how and when in your life you decide to start travelling alone, take the challenge! You will be amazed how your solo travel adventures can open up infinite opportunities.
Want to know more?
Read more tips and advice about solo travel on ZigaZag.
About the Author: Michela Fantinel is a Solo Traveller, Author of Rocky Travel, a Blog for women who love to explore Australia solo. She has recently published a book: “Your Australia Itinerary” – The Ultimate Guide For Female Solo Travellers To Australia. Follow Michela on her adventures at Facebook and Twitter
This post contains affiliate links whereby a small commission is earned on purchases made from them, but at no cost to you. Read the full disclaimer.
Now it’s your turn!
So Lifestylers – do tell us: Have you ever travelled alone? How was your experience?
love to travel solo
I’m in black hole at the minute. I keep th8nking I want to travel alone to “find myself” ive spent years being a mum, gf, granma, daughter. Im so unhappy right now but how do I start? I’ve turned 50 this year, had my fair share of illness for the past 2 years and I’m not.the fittest. I’m in turmoil thinking I really really want to see some of the world but frightened I’m not fit enough. Where would be good to start? I was looking at a trip to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand (one of my dreams from being v young) but it seems quite expensive but on the other hand it’s organised and lots of great reviews from past solo travellers.
Hello Karin, thank you for your thoughts and comments. If you want to travel alone I think it’s easier than it’s ever been before to travel without a partner/friend. Yes, I’d encourage that you join an organised tour, speak to the organisers about your health concerns prior to booking, and all being well get out there and enjoy. If the elephant sanctuary is on your bucket list I’d say, just do it. Sounds like you’ve done the sensible thing and looked at the reviews too. Good luck! And congratulations on turning 50 🙂 x
I love traveling alone. I get a lot of raised eyebrows from friends about why I like to do this, but I usually am OK with my own company. Your tips are great especially the one about trusting your instincts 🙂
Thanks for visiting Michelle. Yes, trusting your own instincts is so important.
I travelled solo all Australia/NZ in 2012 from my home in Ireland, Im fifty something and wanted to travel The Indian Pacific Sydney to Perth to conquer my crippling fear of train travel so it had to be the longest journey and the furthest away from home i could find, it wasnt easy but i did it and went on then to travel The Ghan and in NZ it was mainly train travel also. I only yesterday re read my travel journal from that time and i had forgotton how sometimes it was difficult going and some decisions i made on the way were not the right ones i.e. accommodation, areas etc and sometimes i was downright lonely but it i have always got on well with myself and do enjoy my own company so i just got myself up and moved on to the next day, I can honestly say it was a life changing experience and i learned so much not only about other places and people i met along the way but also about myself and how when we push ourselves outside our comfort zone we can face any or all challenges put before us. my hubby and kids gave me massive support and that was invaluable so im off out again to Aus in dec so will definately have a look at broads abroad before then. I love Michaelas posts and follow her blogs like religion 🙂 Loving this new page now x
Hi Carmel, Thanks for your inspiring comment! Yay for you getting out there and facing your fears, but learning how to enjoy train travel and doing something for yourself, by yourself. I loved your story. Thanks for following Lifestyle Fifty.
I love the freedom of pleasing myself when I travel on my own. It’s perfectly OK to get up at a silly o’clock and see places empty of others and then having a little nanna nap at lunchtime. I love writing home on coffee stained postcards or disposable menus and sitting for hours people watching or wandering through galleries. Yeh I do love pleasing myself.
I love the way you’ve made it all sound Sue. Quite agree.
Second attempt to comment… hope I haven’t mucked it up this time. I have a friend who would absolutely relate to and love this post so I shall pass it on 🙂
No worries Pinky, nothing mucked up! Thank you so much for passing on. By the way, don’t forget to check the Comment Luv box so other readers can see what you’ve been writing too 🙂
No I am too much of a people person to travel solo but I did meet several young women travelling solo when I was travelling around Australia recently. One was a young Japanese girl, with limited English, who was travelling around Australia on a motorbike. I thought “now that really takes balls to do that”!
Interesting Kathy! It’s so interesting meeting people on the road. Great story! I can just see you watching her zoom off into the sunset thinking that!
Seana - Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel
I travelled alone a lot before I had kids and loved it. I used to say: ‘You’re never alone when you’re on your own.’ I met so many wonderful people and that’s what I look forward to most for whenever I manage to escape alone again. Not that it’s bad to be with the kids, but I feel so free when alone.
I get that Seana – and you definitely talk to more people when you’re travelling alone and do more things on the spur of the moment. Holidays are different with kids – but they don’t last for long when it comes to years in our lives – enjoy them while you can and then just Let Free without guilt!
Michela of Rocky Travel Blog
It has been a pleasure to write this article for your Jo. Australia is such a magnificient country for women travelling on their own. I’ve recently found out about the BroadsAbroads Network and cannot wait to meet up with a few of them in the next weeks. 🙂
Thank you Michela – It was a lovely post. Yes Australia is such a fab country to travel around and can’t wait to hear more about the women you meet through BroadsAbroad – seems like Lifestyle Fifty readers are interested too.
Life Images by Jill
I must say that solo travel is a daunting idea – though I can see it can have its benefits too – you can do whatever whenever you please! I must go and check out Broads Abroad. Thanks for the great tips for solo travel Mechela, and another great post on Lifestyle Fifty.
Thanks Jill – yes indeed, daunting but with benefits if you set off with a pinch of courage and a check out of Broads Abroad 😉 perhaps!
I was very interested to hear about the Broads Abroad organization. If I ever travel solo I will definitely join.
I was also intrigued to hear about them, Jan. Thanks for your comment 🙂