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Senior solo female independent traveller

Sydney
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Senior solo female independent traveller

Hi

I have read a lot about the pros and cons of solo travelling but I just would like to know if there are any travellers out there that are senior in age (50+), female, travelling solo but independently, not with organised tours of any kind?

As many senior travellers have shared, my hubby is the stay at home kind but quite supportive of my itch to travel and see the world. I did find a travel companion, met the tc prior to undertaking our trip but found it to be quite challenging. Since then, I decided perhaps solo traveling is the way to go.

The thing is I do hate guided tours for many of the obvious reasons stated by other forum members here and other travel sites, but I am also feeling pretty apprehensive about venturing alone especially to countries where hardly any English is spoken or if the locals do speak English, they would prefer not to have anything to do with English spoken travellers.

So, whilst gathering courage and motivation to venture out on my own, I would dearly love to hear some success stories and also any tips and advice that any of the experienced senior solo female independent traveller would like to share?

Thanks

Cupert

227 replies to this topic
San Diego
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1. Re: Senior solo female independent traveller

I am in my 60s. I went on my first solo trip to Italy when I retired several years ago. I had a wonderful time and have been going at least once a year since then. My husband does not like to fly these days and so I just go without him!

On my first trip I flew into Venice and took a train to Florence immediately.

I didn't have time or think clearly enough to buy food so didn't have any with me for the 3hr. journey. A lovely young man on the train shared his pizza with me.

I got off the train and walked in the wrong direction and had to stop and ask a policeman for help. I finally got to my hotel and went to the room to discover that there was no electricity(so I thought!) Imagine my embarrassment when the manager told me to stick my room key into a slot on the wall and magically all the lights came on!

My point in all this is that you don't have to know everything and even if you think you are prepared "stuff happens" but it is all part of the adventure!!!

I DO think you should use this site and ask questions on the forums of the places you'll be visiting. I have met lots of people that way!! I also like to learn a tiny bit of language(please, thankyou and I am sorry I don't speak your language do you speak English) I have found that IF I start off by apologizing then many people feel comfortable trying out their English.

I prefer small family run hotels/B&Bs when I am on my own.

Edited: 01 January 2013, 23:21
Sydney
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2. Re: Senior solo female independent traveller

Thank you so much for sharing your travel experience and tips, especially the tip about apologising first for not speaking their language before asking if they speak English. It is much better to assume that perhaps they were shy about their limited English then to think the locals are unfriendly.

I did a lot of solo travelling in my early twenties but now in my senior years find it quite intimidating to venture out on my own but I suppose it is time to take the plunge.

Loch Arbour, New...
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3. Re: Senior solo female independent traveller

I am 73 years old and have been traveling solo for 25+ years. I have done all kinds of traveling, including volunteering, taking classes and taking tours with RoadScholar (not your normal tours), and independent trips.

My favorite thing to do is base myself in a large city for a week or so. Then, besides all the cultural and sightseeing activites in that city, I also take day trips out of the city with small group daytrip companies.

One bit of advise is if you are flying into a new city, arrange to have a car service transfer you to your hotel. That way you avoid being ripped off, as I have been, by taxi cab drivers.

Chicago, IL
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4. Re: Senior solo female independent traveller

When you don't speak the language then you may not be able to read the directional signs either. Where do you want to go btw?

In Holland on a train I just barely realized that I was at my stop and I had the same experience in Germany due to me not connecting with the signage.

For me the ideal way to travel through Europe with peace of mind is with a river cruise company and uniworld.com is my favorite. Every day the cruise manager spends about 15 minutes giving tips which could include (or you can ask later) how much a taxi to wherever should cost and then they will call a reputable taxi company for you. Yes, with the US and Aussie based companies there is daily sightseeing included in the price but you do not have to join these organized tours. You can even leave the ship (no price reduction) and ask the ship to book you a hotel room then you can catch up to the ship the next day probably by train. You can be as independent as you like. Also uniworld offers some departures when singles do not have to pay a supplement but they still get a double room. It is nice, I think, to have the issue of where you are going to sleep and how you will travel taken care of so that you have more time to simply enjoy the holiday. Then too you will meet interesting and well-traveled English speaking folks on the ship but lots of Europeans in each town and village. Lastly the ship is like a boutique, European hotel with just 65 rooms so you will not feel like a number and you will enjoy the small hotel ambiance that it sounds like you want. You will have access to experiences and people that you could not on your own and, all and all, if you are going to Europe, I think you would find it a very fulfilling voyage.

Liverpool, United...
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5. Re: Senior solo female independent traveller

Hi.

There are lots of women who are independent solo travellers. It's great to hear that you're thinking about it. Believe me, I know what it's like when you've never done it before.

I write a blog for women aged 35+ to encourage them to travel independently, if that is what they want to do. You might want to look it up 'Independent Travel Help'. I have written blog posts about working out what you want, thinking about how you want to travel because we are all different, and seeing it through. There are also blogs by other women such as 'Women on the Road' and 'Solo Traveler Blog' that are worth looking at.

If there is some info that you can't find but would like, please let me know.

Sydney
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6. Re: Senior solo female independent traveller

Dear SusieQQ,, CapeCodCharlie, indtravhelp

Thank you for taking the time to share your travel experiences.

Booking airport / hotel transfer is sound advice indeed. Thank you for that tip.

I have considered doing the cruise in Europe but apart from finding it quite expensive, I would like to be adventurous and use local transportation as much as possible. To overcome the language barrier, I am going to invest in a language translator which will, I hope, help me to communicate with the local folks.

I am using London as my base, simply because my daughter is moving to London in a couple of weeks time and will by the time I arrive (keeping fingers crossed) have found a place to rent. *Just joking*. It is a work transfer and so there should not be a problem. My initial plan was to get a Euro rail pass to visit Italy, Greece and Spain but that may be overly ambitious so perhaps I should just focus on Spain.

indtravelhelp, thank you for your kind offer of assistance. I will check out the blogs suggested. I have also recently looked at Journeywoman.com and through Journeywoman.com, came to know of Women Welcome Women Worldwide. Just before Christmas, I have successfully applied for membership. Now that Christmas is truly behind us and the new year has begun, I hope to contact a few members from different countries with a view of meeting these members when I eventually get to visit their part of the world. lol

San Diego
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7. Re: Senior solo female independent traveller

Hi again,

There is a train forum on this site that may have ideas for you.

In some countries it is not cost efficient to use a Eurail pass because buying point to point tickets is much less expensive. The Eurail passes are sold by a travel company and not by the local train companies so do check this out before you buy one!

It would be fun to hear about your travels when you actually get started!

Liverpool, United...
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8. Re: Senior solo female independent traveller

If you're thinking of going by train, check out Seat61. It's an invaluable resource. I use it all the time.

You can easily travel around Spain by train and bus. I was there a few months ago. There is a fast train but I thought it was too pricey. It can be difficult finding public transport information before you travel but there are websites. I have written a post about car-free travel around (part of) Spain that you might find useful. If you want me to, I could fish out the website addresses but it depends on whether the bus is a mode of travel you want to use.

The same is true of Italy. The trains aren't always on time but you can get around fairly easily by train and bus. I was told it would be really difficult but it isn't that bad. You can buy train tickets from a machine that translates into English. That is so handy! They have a fast train service now as well.

I can't help you with Greece but Seat 61 will have info on that.

Travelling by public transport is an adventure. I love it but it can sometimes be frustrating.

Have you heard of couchsurfing or any of the other cultural exchange websites? You can stay with people or just meet up. This is also a forum on the website and groups specially for women, solo travellers, over 50 travellers etc. You can just meet up for a coffee if you want. It's great for that. You can also Eat with a Local. I haven't tried that yet but it's worth checking out the website of that name.

There's also Airbnb, Wimdu and Housetrip among others where you can rent a room to a whole house rather than stay in a hotel.

England, United...
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9. Re: Senior solo female independent traveller

Hi Cupert, sounds like you are well on the way. Plan what you want to see, how to get there, how to use public transport. The forums help.

It is just a case of putting one foot in front of another - the same as at home. But you know your home well, just find out as much as you can about the place you are going and if you get stuck - ask for help.

Choose hotels near transport and sights. Have a look at the reviews, you probably don't want one largely used by families. Most cities have hop on/hop off busses. It's a good way of getting a feel for the place. I've used them to get from one venue to another, gives my feet and brain a rest. Take day tours when you get there both for the company and to get to further flung places & of course walking tours in town can be good.

Sydney
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10. Re: Senior solo female independent traveller

Hello!

Thanks for your kind assistance. Sorry for not thanking all the members here who have responded. Thank you so much for your input and your encouragement. I wish to apologise for not making an effort to visit here for quite sometime as I have been busy helping my daughter with her move to London in late January. As we have been closed and since I missed her so much, I kind of lost impetus for my solo travel.

However, I had given myself a good talk and I am starting to become motivated again. :)

It is time for me to start putting some kind of itinerary together for my solo trip. For this trip which will happen towards the later part of May, I have decided to focus my travel in England, Scotland and possibly Ireland. Not sure, if I should include Wales as well. The reason for this change of itinerary is because hubby decided to join me in mid August and he wants to spend two weeks in London to visit daughter, two weeks in Paris and two weeks in Spain.

So, for the first trip, I have roughly six weeks in the UK, head back to Sydney in mid-July and then venture out again to London and Europe in mid-August. Yes, I have considered staying put in London until hubby's arrival but really need to get back to sort out some personal stuff.

Would love to have your input as to whether spending six weeks in the UK visiting England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales are much too hectic?

Thanks :)

Cupert

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