When many people think about solo travelers, they imagine young people hitting the road with backpacks, but older adults can take this kind of trip as well. Age isn’t what it used to be, and many older adults remain healthy, active and adventurous. All the same, if you’ve never done much traveling or you haven’t done any since you were young, the thought of doing so again can seem daunting.
This is especially true if you don’t have anyone to go with, whether you have lost your partner, you don’t have one or they don’t want to come. Will everyone you meet be decades younger than you? Will your family object? Will you be lonely? Reading the tips below can help you manage these and other worries.
Have a Goal
This is supposed to be about having fun, so why are you supposed to have a goal as though you’re back at work? The reason is that more than other types of travel, the challenges of solo travel abroad can raise questions such as “why am I even doing this?” If you’re retired, you might find yourself thinking longingly of how you could be relaxing at home instead of catching a train at five in the morning or trying to muddle your way through ordering dinner in a language that you don’t speak.
Remembering the answer to your “why?” at times like this can help you keep perspective. Maybe the “why” is “because I’ve spent my entire life wanting to visit the Great Wall of China.” Maybe it’s because you don’t want to spend one more winter in a cold climate or you want to recapture an adventure from your youth. Maybe it’s even just to have fun. The substance of the goal doesn’t matter as much as having a clear picture of what you want to get out of your trip.
Make Your Budget
Knowing your budget is important so that you can plan your trip. Many seniors have saved a substantial amount of money for retirement and can afford to take the trip of their dreams, but if this isn’t the case for you, there are plenty of options. Thanks to senior discounts, you may find many opportunities to travel on a budget. Depending on your particular situation, you may also have other assets you no longer want or need that you can sell.
If you no longer have dependents, you might not need your life insurance policy any longer, and if it is a permanent policy, you may be able to sell it. There are different kinds of settlements you can get. You can visit this site to see if you would qualify for a viatical settlement. The payout you receive from these types of settlements is not as high as what your beneficiaries would receive, but it is a substantial amount.
To Tour or Not to Tour
You may be traveling solo, but you only have to be alone if you choose to. Group tours or cruises can be great options for seniors who would like to have a built-in social group or would prefer to pay someone to do all the work of planning the itinerary, meals and accommodations.
Some of them cater specifically to older travelers if that’s what you’re looking for. On the other hand, if you’re independently minded and want to plan the entire trip yourself, that’s still an option. You can sign up for tours that last a few hours if you’d like some of the benefits of guided travel. While most of the independent travelers that you meet may be younger, you may find that age doesn’t limit the connections that you can make with people.
Reassure Your Loved Ones
As you make your plans, you might find yourself suddenly wondering when your children turned into your parents. If you’re getting a lot of comments that sound like, “You’re going where?” and “You’re doing what?”, don’t be discouraged. If you’re going on a cruise or a tour, you can reassure them that you’ll be around people the entire time.
If you’re planning on independent travel, sit down and talk to them about their concerns. Discuss ways that you can keep in touch and what you’ll do in case of an emergency. In most cases, they are raising these concerns out of love, even though it can be frustrating.
Choose Your Destination and Activities
This part is easier if you have a dream destination in mind that you’ve always wanted to travel to. However, even if Paris in the spring has been on your to-do list since you were a teenager, there’s still a lot more planning and research to do. You shouldn’t over plan, but knowing things like what attractions cost, how far apart they are from one another and what you can reasonably expect to do in the time that you have allotted will help you plan a more satisfying trip.
If you have no idea where you want to go or you need to choose among several different places, ask yourself what kind of a traveler you are. Do you prefer luxury, or are you just as happy to rough it? Are you a foodie or a lover of theater? Perhaps history is your passion, or maybe you’ve always wanted to go somewhere to practice your Spanish with native speakers.
Think about how active you want to be as well as this will influence some of the travel accessories you need to pack. Do you have any mobility issues, or are you happy to walk for miles each day checking out the sights? As you start to narrow down destinations, look online, including on social media, for up-to-the minute advice about the place you’re going to, but remember to take that advice with a grain of salt as well. People have a whole range of different experiences in a place, and just because someone tells you that one place is full of pickpockets or that nobody speaks English in another is no reason to give it a miss. Instead, check out these types of claims, and if they seem to be true, think about how you will handle that situation instead of writing the place off completely.