Solo travel for seniors is age-defying.
In the eyes of others, solo travelers are strong, capable, confident, and, yes, even a little exotic. Be seen as such and age becomes insignificant.
Be just a little intrepid and your world will tilt on its axis. You’ll enjoy experiences you would never have traveling with someone else. Experiences you would definitely not have staying at home.
Solo travel should be Plan A, at least some of the time. It’s too good to be simply a fallback position should there be no one with the same interests, time, and money to travel with you.
Solo travel offers the amazing opportunity to pursue your own interests at your own pace without compromise and, at the same time, to access aspects of yourself and the world that are otherwise inaccessible.
It is an experience everyone needs.
Why Is Solo Travel Great As We Age?
- It’s time for a little freedom. If you have spent most of your life surrounded by and responsible to others, this is your chance to be responsible to no one but yourself. Go to bed when you like. Get up when you like. Eat, drink, wander, explore what you like. It’s all up to you.
- You can explore new interests. Solo travel can be a gateway to new interests. Whether it’s music or hiking or discovering (like I did last month) that you like champagne, try something new. Maybe you wouldn’t go to a bar by yourself at home, but on the road in a town like Nashville, how could you possibly stay in with all that music around you? Perhaps hiking is not part of your lifestyle, but if you find yourself in the Lake District of England you may just find a new love. From pottery making to yoga, if something has struck you as enticing but unlikely to fit into your lifestyle at home, try it while traveling solo.
- You are interesting to people of all ages. I find that many people in their twenties and thirties are really curious about me. They seem to look at me as the kind of person they want to be when they get to my age–which, in their minds is very, very old. They see me as bold and welcome me into their conversations. And they often tell me that I am not like their parents at all. It seems I’m an alternative model to them for solo travel as a senior.
- Your world expands with cross-generational conversations. Talking with people younger and older than I am breaks me out of my limited world and gives me a better understanding of the issues faced by others. They can also amuse me. I remember walking down a street in Italy with an American man in his twenties. He turned to look back at a beautiful young woman who had passed us and said to me, “I love Italian women. They have great junk in the trunk.” Really! To have such access to young attitudes is a wonderful if not a curious and sometimes disturbing thing.
- Other cultures respect age in ways that North America doesn’t. My hair is grey. Given the courtesy I receive in some countries, I have thought that I present as older than I am. Then I realize that it’s actually about age being respected more in other cultures. Traveling on a train in India a young man wouldn’t dream of moving me from my seat even though I was willing (insisting) and had, by means of a seat shift, taken his. His response was, “but you are our guest.” I suspect someone younger may not have been treated quite so well.
Great Destinations for Seniors Traveling Alone
In reality, the best destination for any solo traveling senior is up to them. You might want to climb a mountain and, if you’re up to the challenge, it’s a great destination for you. So what can I offer in terms of destinations? How can I generalize? Here are trips that just about anyone can enjoy and they don’t involve learning another language.
- Spectacular Western Canada. I’ve traveled Western Canada multiple times. The grandeur of the mountains and the friendliness of the people, great hikes, and small towns, made it a great destination. Simple to plan and affordable. You can read about it here Western Canada Itinerary: Top Things to See and Do and British Columbia by Train: Budget or Luxury. It’s Your Choice.
- The United Kingdom. The UK has so much to offer. The culture is different but the language is the same, making it interesting and easy. London is a top destination for most of us. I find the center of the city to be very safe. I’ve walked at night and had no problem. Read Solo Travel London on a Budget: Top Tips for Free and Cheap and Best Places to Stay in London: Accommodation for Solo Travelers. I’ll never tire of Northern Ireland’s glens and its dramatic Causeway Coastal Route. Read Solo Travel Northern Ireland: 32 Tips for a Fantastic Trip. There’s also Edinburgh and Liverpool. I could go on and on.
- Road trip! I love a road trip. I especially love a road trip along the coast and through a rugged landscape and one that drops me into small towns and villages to meet locals. This past summer I took two road trips. One through parts of Canada and the United States and the other in Nova Scotia. Read Wisconsin Highlights: Milwaukee, the Great River Road & Door County and Nova Scotia’s Acadian Shores: The Stories I Love to Discover.
- An educational holiday. One of my goals is to become fluent in French. I have improved greatly by using holiday time for French immersion classes in Quebec City and Lyon, France.
- A river cruise. A river cruise covers many destinations in one trip with only one unpacking and repacking involved. That makes it easy. But I suggest that you select your river cruise carefully according to your own tastes and interests. Tracey and I have been on a few. Here is some reading for you. River Cruises for Solo Travelers: A Great Option to Consider, River Cruise in the South of France: Avalon Waterways Review, Benedictine to Baked Alaska: A Culinary River Cruise in France.
- Walking trips. My last walking trip was the Isle of Skye in September. On the path, I would stop, take in the view, and find a huge smile stretching across my face. I smile a lot but smiling just because the air and view and exertion are so wonderful is not part of my regular day. I really suggest walking trips. You can be as adventurous as you like. I encourage you to read this post by Susanne, a reader from Austria: Solo Travel Destination: The West Highland Way, Scotland.
- Creative travel. Creative travel is travel for the express purpose of learning something new. It may be cooking or a language, dance or painting. Creative travel helps you enter your destination through the local culture and by meeting locals and learning from them. Read Solo Travel to Creative Destinations: 10 Tips to Go Creative!
Tips for Seniors Traveling Solo
Traveling in your third act is a wonderful experience. Whether you go for luxury or budget travel, it’s all available to you when you travel solo.
- Others will welcome the excitement of you. You are, by the mere fact that you’re traveling solo, adventurous to many. You’d liven up an evening for people. I have enjoyed many a coffee or meal with travelers and locals who welcome me into their conversation. I enrich them as they enrich me.
- Hostels are not just for the young. Once referred to as youth hostels, today they are just hostels. We often hear from seniors who enjoy staying in hostels in our Facebook group, the Solo Travel Society. Some, like the YHA hostels, are still non-profit but others are part of hostel chains. Yes, just like boomers, hostels have grown up. As the hostel clientele of the 60s and 70s has matured, so have hostels. To get a sense of staying at hostels as a boomer, read Sleeping with Strangers.
- More tips relevant to seniors from other posts on Solo Traveler:
And one final comment: don’t hesitate to return to places you visited when you were younger. Knowledge gained and life lived over the years will take you to a deeper understanding than you could have possibly had before.
Please share your thoughts and experiences about solo travel for seniors in our Discussion Forum.
Last updated: 19th October, 2022