For many older adults, a healthy and active lifestyle includes travel. After all, now is the time to live your dreams! That includes traveling to those destinations you’ve always dreamed of. But are you still ready to go if that means traveling alone?
Traveling alone offers freedom, independence, and confidence, and now more than ever are opportunities to do it safely. Cruises, wellness retreats, and learning vacations like the ones at Road Scholar, designed especially for people over 50 and catering to solo travelers, are all great, self-contained options. But don’t be afraid to strike out on your own, if that’s your thing! These tips can help you see the world in safety.
How to Safely Travel Solo
- Make Sure Someone Knows Where You’re Headed
- Activate an International Phone Plan
- Pack Light
- Plan Out Your First Night
- Keep Your Accommodations Private
- Protect Your Cards, Cash, and Travel Documents
- Band Up With Other Travelers
Prepare an itinerary, even if it’s rough, with contact information for your cell phone and the hotels where you’ll be staying. Share this itinerary with at least one trusted friend or family member so they’ll know where you are and when you plan to be back. Check in with them throughout your trip for safety—and to share your amazing adventures!
Don’t wait until you’re overseas to find out your phone won’t work internationally. (This is a really unpleasant surprise, especially when you’re traveling solo!) Before you leave, contact your mobile phone provider to ask about international capabilities and plans. Having a working phone gives you peace of mind in case of emergency, and also makes it easier to navigate, look up information, or translate phrases.
Packing light means more mobility as you move from place to place (plus you can save money on baggage or bellhops). It does require a bit more planning to cover the spectrum of possible occasions, but you can put together a fabulous capsule wardrobe that flatters your personality and your personal color palette (or you can skip the stress by letting me plan your vacation wardrobe!). Choose key pieces in your signature colors, and match them with neutrals that will all pair well together. And don’t forget the transformative power of a colorful accessory, like a hat or scarf. When you pack complementary colors with neutrals, you create versatility in a limited wardrobe by making sure everything can be worn with everything else.
Don’t get caught off guard on your first night in a new place. If you’re traveling separate from an organized group, be sure you have lodgings set for your first night in each of your planned destinations—and make sure you arrive during daylight hours. If the place you booked turns out to be wrong for you, you’ll still have time to make other arrangements. That said, you should also…
If you are traveling outside of an organized group, do not share where you are staying; your hotel is your sanctuary. If someone asks, it’s easy to give a politely vague response, such as “downtown,” “by the river,” and so on.
Keep your passport and other important documents safe and secure, locking them up in your room’s safe when you’re able. Keep backup copies of your documents with you and at home with your trusted contact. A travel belt can help you stow cards and cash while you explore hands free, without having to worry about a stolen purse or wallet.
The great news about traveling alone? It can make you seem more approachable than those traveling with others. If you’re open to the idea, try sparking conversation with a fellow traveler at the Parthenon or a local at a corner eatery. If you’re traveling in a self-contained adventure such as a cruise, it’s easy to talk with folks over dinner, while waiting for a show, or at a bar. Then you’ll notice how often you run into the same people during your journey.
And for those extra concerns that cross the minds of older would-be travelers, know that baby boomers are surging in solo travel! A 2018 study by Booking.com found that 40 percent of global baby boomers had taken a solo trip in the past year, with a further 21 percent planning to take one in the future. I also love this encouraging article from Solo Traveler: Senior Solo Travel – Don’t Let a Number Hold You Back.
I’m Kay Hunter, Orange County image consultant for men and women over 40. I transform mature professionals, active adults, and seniors into more successful and confident versions of themselves. By expressing yourself through style and fashion, you’ll get that boost of confidence, visibility, and value you need to get to the next level. Enhance the joy of living—because great style is ageless!