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Newly widowed. Seasoned traveler, but never traveled alone.

Silver Spring...
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22 posts
13 reviews
Newly widowed. Seasoned traveler, but never traveled alone.

Sounds like a silly question, but how do I start to travel again without feeling out of place. Been to 40+ countries, but always with my wife; my travel companion. Like small groups; like adventure and active travel. Any specific thoughts appreciated.

141 replies to this topic
San Diego
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for San Diego
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68,365 posts
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1. Re: Newly widowed. Seasoned traveler, but never traveled alone.

First of all, I am sorry for your loss! It is always hard to start a new stage of life.

You will probably not be the only lone traveler out there!

I'd start slowly either by going back to a place you know you love or going somewhere totally new that you have not explored at all!

I'd travel to the place on my own and then book a/some small group tours/adventures while there. I know there are small ship cruises which include shore excursions/adventures and there are certainly things like safaris which are small groups too.

I am sure others will have more ideas for you!!

Nowy Sacz, Poland
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4,025 posts
42 reviews
2. Re: Newly widowed. Seasoned traveler, but never traveled alone.

Riff M sums up the dilemma exactly "I'd start slowly either by going back to a place you know you love or going somewhere totally new that you have not explored at all!" My first solo trip was to New York, where we'd visited many times and I knew that I had in mind enough to do to fully fill my time and that gave me some confidence to look beyond. In fact, I then went to Champneys and loved it - mostly people on their own and open to chatting/sharing tables for meals and very relaxed. Next was one of those "now or never" trips when Concorde stopped flying and one of my great travel icons was never going to happen for me - so I tackled the other one and flew BA to NY and came home on the QE2. NY was still comfortable and I enjoyed my time, then the ship was excellent. Half empty, so never crowded but lots to do, nice table mates for meals and hooking up in the Yacht Club and people were very nice company - lots travelling alone, shared may pots of tea! After that came the Hurtigruten, again a lot of solo travellers, right sort of age, and open to company on walks ashore and excursions as well as meals. Then went to India twice, and that's a place I'd recommend solo or, as I've been lucky to find, together (3rd trip, 2011!) and Japan (honeymoon 2009).

Key, I think, is finding a holiday you really want to do - then the people sort of fall into place, as like minds really do think alike.

I'm not sure of your age, but there are tour companies which specialise in the over 55s?

England, United...
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12,535 posts
44 reviews
3. Re: Newly widowed. Seasoned traveler, but never traveled alone.

There are companies that offer holidays specifically for people travelling as a single person. One such company is Travelsphere. They are a very caring operator and offer a variety of options such as short breaks, holidays by coach, etc.

When we travelled with them to China (as a couple) some of our party were women who had been widowed and who had previously booked holidays using the single traveller option. After a couple of trips, they each said that they felt more comfortable and confident about travelling with a mixed group.

Canada
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10,536 posts
81 reviews
4. Re: Newly widowed. Seasoned traveler, but never traveled alone.

I have travel "solo" a lot. Sometimes organizing my trips, hotels as completely alone travel.

As I age, I have taken a few "small group' tours- up to 16 people. This way someone does your organizing for you but you have your own room and during free time- can do what you want without having to confer with a travel companion. One such trip actually had 4 solo people!

At first dining alone was difficult but not any more. I carry a newspaper or book and often sit at the bar where the bartender will always keep you entertained.

Pennsylvania
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177 posts
25 reviews
5. Re: Newly widowed. Seasoned traveler, but never traveled alone.

Traveling alone is akin to traveling to a brand new country - new customs, new language ["I" instead of "we"], new ways and adaptations. I am female, have been traveling solo for several years and am very, very delighted with it. I began with Paris [where "we" had been], then went to Florence [where "we had not"], then to Nice [where I had been with a different "we" years before]. Each trip got better and better.

London, United...
Destination Expert
for Solo Travel
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11,100 posts
28 reviews
6. Re: Newly widowed. Seasoned traveler, but never traveled alone.

Rexaroonie is right that solo travel is a new country. In my experience it is a country with new and different delights.

IMHO, it is no good trying to recreate the sort of travel you did before as your new way of travel will have different problems and different delights.

I don't do tours if there is any other option, so anything I say needs to be seen through that filter, but I would think for someone newly widowed (something I have experienced although at a younger age and with a small child to provide distraction) a tour would could feel far lonelier than travelling alone.

Yes there will be solo travellers on a group tour (with whom you may or may not get on, but with whom you will be expected to socialise), but there will also be couples and families which could make you feel very much the odd man out.

Also, if you are anything like I was, you will find your emotions are all over the place and the lack of privacy on a tour could be a burden. You need the right to feel what you feel when you feel it, whether that is laughter (without feeling that laughing is unseemly) or tears (without someone trying to cheer you up).

However, if you want to go with a group, you might be happiest on a tour with a specific focus, whether archaeology, music, history of a particular period or white water rafting etc. A common shared purpose breaks down barriers.

You also seem like a person who wants to really experience the places you travel to.

One of the delights of solo travel is that you are far more likely to have conversations with random strangers, both local and visitors. IME, you also notice more as a solo traveller, both because you have fewer distractions and because you can chose to ignore the famous sights and spends hours following up something that appeals only to you.

One my first solo trip (6 weeks on an around the world ticket) the only mistake I felt I made was to return solo to a place where I had spent a lovely romantic week. The place felt completely different and I felt lonely in a way I haven't since.

On the other hand, you may feel that you want to return to places you both loved as a memorial to your wife and if so, that may be the best place to start.

If you want to strike out on your own, then you might start with a place you have always wanted to go but about which your wife was not so keen. It isn't disloyal to enjoy a place you wife would have hated, just a gentle acknowledgement that your life will be different now.

There are lots of solo travellers. The joy of doing what you want, when you want, for as long as you want is something to be celebrated.

This is not what you would have chosen but you will not be bizarre or even unusual. Life and travel still can hold wonderful things.

For more specific suggestions:

Italy by train is simple, English, with Buon Giorno, Per favore and Grazie tante should get you by. Rome to Florence takes 1 1/2 hours by immaculate Italian trains. Naples is the same length of journey in the opposite direction. Pompeii is about 40 minutes by train south of Naples.

www.seat61.com/Italy-trains.htm#.UFr-C42PUXs

Spain is equally easy by train.

http://www.seat61.com/Spain.htm#holidays

My favourite solo travel country is Japan, in part because there is an agency called Inside Japan which has suggested itineraries (including hiking, volunteering and biking holidays). Inside Japan can organise accommodation, transport and the occasional private guide so that your trip runs with superb smoothness, but because you are travelling on your own, you can do and see exactly what you want.

insidejapantours.com/self-guided-japan-holid…

They also run small group tours if that is what you prefer,

insidejapantours.com/japan-small-group-tours…

I haven't been on their tours, but I took a tweaked Garden self-guided adventure for my first trip to Japan and IJ has organised two tailored trips since.

The Japanese people I have met have been gracious and considerate of each other and of visitors. I can think of no better country to travel in when feeling emotionally fragile.

Signs in the rail stations are in English as are many of the descriptions at various sights and while Tokyo is a huge international city, there are smaller towns and villages that are also accessible even to a first time traveller with no Japanese. The countryside is breathtaking.

Of course this presupposes that you have any interest in Japan and Japanese culture, but Japan is a country that manages to be both familiar and ineffably different. It would keep your mind constantly busy and your senses delighted.

Edited: 20 September 2012, 19:56
Silver Spring...
Level Contributor
22 posts
13 reviews
7. Re: Newly widowed. Seasoned traveler, but never traveled alone.

Leagle

You hit the nail squarely on the head. Everything you said was how I am feeling and where I think my travel will take me. My wife passed in Mid-August and my emotions are still best kept for me privately, where and whenever they hit. There were destinations that were not high on her list and that would be a good place for me to start. Japan and Iceland for example. I can't think of going to a place we have been together or a place we had planned to go.

Howard

Silver Spring...
Level Contributor
22 posts
13 reviews
8. Re: Newly widowed. Seasoned traveler, but never traveled alone.

Leagle

You hit the nail squarely on the head. Everything you said was how I am feeling and where I think my travel will take me. My wife passed in Mid-August and my emotions are still best kept for me privately, where and whenever they hit. There were destinations that were not high on her list and that would be a good place for me to start. Japan and Iceland for example. I can't think of going to a place we have been together or a place we had planned to go.

luv2travel4wife

London, United...
Destination Expert
for Solo Travel
Level Contributor
11,100 posts
28 reviews
9. Re: Newly widowed. Seasoned traveler, but never traveled alone.

My husband died in 1986 so I am a long way down the path that you are travelling (although each person's path is different). I am so sorry for your loss, but envious of how much time you had together.

I found the second year of loss more difficult in some ways than the first year; in part because I was disconcerted that I kept thinking "Oh I must tell Harry about that". The best advice I can give is to be gentle with yourself and don't worry at all about what you "should" be feeling. (I still haven't entirely forgiven Harry for dying and thereby leaving his daughter and me)

I haven't been to Iceland, although it is certainly on my list, but Japan has, along with all its other delights, the glorious Japanese osen. It is not so common in big cities like Tokyo, but in other, smaller villages, towns, and cities, you come back from a day of walking or biking, and then before or after dinner, you go to the (gender segregated) baths attached to your hotel. You scrub yourself clean, rinse off the soap and then ease your aching body into the loveliest hot water.

Some osens are outside, sometimes on the roof of your hotel, and you can look up at the stars while soaking away any physical or mental aches. Bliss!

Edited: 26 September 2012, 23:37
Charlotte, NC
Level Contributor
7,387 posts
173 reviews
10. Re: Newly widowed. Seasoned traveler, but never traveled alone.

You should look at this: A lot of great advice, destinations, etc. I came across it while reading her posting on Brno & Prague...

averysenioryearabroad.com/slide.aspx?id=9015

tripadvisor.com/…43903753

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