Many of us dream of retiring and traveling the globe. We create a retirement travel fund in hopes of spending our golden years heading off to exciting destinations with a spouse or partner. But sometimes things don’t work out exactly as planned.
A senior might be divorced, widowed, or simply want to travel to destinations others aren’t interested in. As a result, the number of seniors traveling alone is on the rise. In fact, estimates are that about 11% of senior travelers are hitting the road—or flying the skies—alone.
Tips and Trips for Seniors Traveling Alone
According to geriatrician and author, Dr. David Lipschitz, travel helps seniors live longer. The connection between staying actively engaged in life and longevity has been firmly established. But, for single seniors, the very idea of traveling alone can be intimidating.
Here are a few tips for traveling alone during retirement years:
- Consider your comfort level: Will you be uneasy taking a trip that involves renting a car, navigating through a strange city or country, and heading out to see the sights on your own? Or would you be more comfortable with an all-inclusive, planned trip? Give careful thought to what you would truly be comfortable with before you book.
- Type of trip: Are you looking to relax on a beach? Or for something a little different? The Road Scholar organization is a nonprofit that helps connect older adults with interesting and unusual trips. A fan of the series Homeland, for example? You might enjoy the “Inside the CIA” adventure. This trip gives you a peek behind the scenes of the intelligence community. From expert speakers (former spies!) to a tour of the Spy Museum, it’s just one of many travel opportunities for seniors traveling alone offered through the Road Scholar organization.
- Safety first: If you haven’t traveled solo before, safety might be a big concern. Taking a few precautions can help you feel less fearful. Plan to arrive at your destination during daylight hours. It will likely make you feel safer than trying to navigate alone in a strange place after dark. Also, remember to give a loved one back home a copy of your itinerary, and make plans to check in often. A site with good resources and tips for women traveling alone is Wanderlust and Lipstick.
- Accommodations: A senior traveling solo is more likely to feel isolated and alone staying in a big hotel chain. By contrast, an inn or a B&B with a friendly owner or inn keeper can help you feel connected. They also provide more opportunities for you to socialize and meet other guests.
- Medical concerns: Make sure you plan for the unexpected. While many seniors traveling solo might know they need certain immunizations, they may fail to prepare for a flight home getting cancelled and being stranded away from home a day or two longer. Make sure you have enough medication and supplies for these situations. Also, take copies of your medication list and medical history. While no one likes to think the worst will happen on vacation, it’s important to be prepared just in case.
- Plan and research: Our final tip is to spend a little time researching and planning. There are a variety of books that make this easier to do, including The Solo Traveler’s Handbook by Janice Waugh. Websites such as The Roaming Boomers and Solo Travel can also help.
We hope this information allows you to confidently set sail on the retirement trip you’ve been dreaming of!
Have you traveled alone before? What did you enjoy about it? What are some tips you’d share with seniors who want to make vacation plans for themselves? Let us know in the comments below.