A bunch of my friends asked me this week about solo travel advice for women since I often travel by myself. Traveling solo as a woman of a certain vintage is a unique experience. There are many points in a woman’s life where traveling alone may seem depressing or scary. Not in your 50s. It is, honestly, the golden age for solo travel as a woman. Here’s why, at least for me.
Solo Travel Advice For Women Over 50
What I learned on my second solo trip to France:
- It sounds odd, but no one pays any attention to you. In a youth-focused beauty culture, older women aren’t cat-called, followed, propositioned, or really noticed at all. We can go about our business and enjoy our lives without being constantly sexualized and, frankly, it’s a win all over the place.
- Women my age are taken seriously. When I walked into a space with inquiries or requests, I got quick, thorough and thoughtful responses. I had access to places most tourists don’t have access. I got recommendations, had really provocative discussions, met all kinds of people. Which leads me to #3.
- Solo travel can be a much richer experience because it allows you to adjust your plans based on who you meet, your energy levels, unexpected opportunities to create community, often leading to even richer experiences. I stayed in BNBs and Air BNBs that I knew I would have the chance to chat with the owners and get to know people. That sense of having friends abroad is something no hotel experience offers.
- It gives you lots of opportunity to see what you are capable of managing. I’m not going to create a romantic, carefree notion of solo travel. It is about being diligent, smart, taking calculated risks, having back-up plans for the back-up plans, leaving itineraries with people who can find you if you get lost or something more serious happens. It tests you, sometimes in ways that are supremely problematic or have tomorrow-related consequences. However, I love a good challenge. And, frankly, I’m normally a back-ups for the back-up sort of person.
- It is hard, sometimes, and that is important. I had several supreme screw ups. Big events I had planned ended up being privately traumatic because I hadn’t anticipated crowds or heat or blisters or train strikes. I embarrassed myself, paid waaaaay too much for a thing or two because I didn’t understand how to pay for them. Cried a few times. All of these moments are now great stories and forced me to choose if I was going to let things like these own me, or if I could accept them as being human and living the full range of that. There were definitely times when I had to smack myself around to get out of a screw-up related funk. Sometimes it required collapsing into bed with an apple and half a bottle of wine for dinner. Sometimes, I let it all roll off me.
- I am okay with coming home to the quiet, edge-of-the-earth life here in Vancouver. I honestly don’t really want to travel again for a while, and that is weird for me. I am looking forward to these quiet winter months of writing and family and transforming this experience into a fictional world. Finding that ebb and flow is new for me. I’m going to really lean in to it all and create for a while. Then, when the time is right, head back out for another adventure.
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