For many women traveling alone internationally for the first time it can be a daunting prospect. For others it can be a time of reawakening providing a sense of independence like no other. An opportunity to explore the world without having to consider the needs of others (as they most probably have done for most of their lives), can be an exciting experience.
While many have taken the plunge abandoning all the constraints of life to travel the world, others sit back nervously contemplating whether or not to 'take the risk'.
Others may be frozen in fear at the very prospect, some women unfortunately choose to remain living an average life due to their perceived 'lack of finances'. The truth is all things are possible, if you allow yourself to harness the will inside of you.
There is so much to look forward to when traveling solo in your fifties and beyond. Women of this age are well equipped with a lifetime worth of experience to stand them in good stead for traveling solo. Many worry about personal safety, loneliness or isolation - the truth is as a solo traveler there is much to look forward to including the experience of feeling truly independent.
Statistically, women outlive their partners by many years perhaps after a lifetime of togetherness a loved partner has passed away, leaving nothing but memories and little else to look forward to. Others may have experienced a divorce and are keen for the opportunity to re-purpose their life and explore new territories. In these times where travel is just a short flight away, there are many types of experiences available for those wishing to step out of their 'comfort zone'.
Solo travel doesn't have to mean traveling alone. You may wish to join a group specific to your age, or a group tour traveling to locations you once only dreamed of. Solo travel requires a little more planning and awareness than that of couple or group travel however the experience can provide such great rewards to those who dare.
For the most part many women miss out on the wonderful experience of traveling alone out of some perceived fear, that in all reality can be managed using a few simple risk management strategies including:
Personal Safety First
When traveling alone in a foreign country no one is there to watch out for you. You travel without an extra set of eyes you may have had when traveling with a partner. Conversely, when traveling in pairs or as a group, you are in fact more vulnerable to scams or thieves as you may be otherwise distracted with your travel partner. As a solo traveler you are able to more easily blend into a crowd than if you are traveling in a group.
Mind Your Health
Women over 50 and into their 60's and beyond are more susceptible to health issues than in their younger years, so its important to have a strategy in place to manage any potential health issues which may arise when traveling.
Simple things such as carrying more than enough medication and dividing it into each of your bags in case one is lost. Carry emergency health information with you so in the event you faint, fall unconscious or take significantly ill, people are able to get in touch with your loved ones, and gain an understanding of any pre-existing conditions you may have. Carry the basics including Gastro-Stop and other types of over the counter medications to manage any minimal health issues when overseas.
Plan Your Itinerary In Advance
Its important to have a plan before heading away, especially in the early days of solo travel. Sometimes the biggest challenge is the travel journey itself. By understanding exactly where you are going and how you will get there, much of the stress of solo travel can be eliminated.
The older we become the more challenging traveling from place to place can become on the body and mind, so its very important to understand what time of the day you will be landing in a destination, what time the check in at your hotel is and how you will get there with luggage in tow. Where possible, select flights which land at a reasonable time at the planned destination.
Connection With Home
Always maintain a connection with loved ones back at home during the course of your travel adventure. Its considered sound advice to make arrangements to check in with a friend or relative every couple of days, or every week at a fixed time so they know if there should be any cause for concern.
Protect Your Property
When traveling solo looking after your property is important. Replacing a passport, suitcase or laptop in a foreign country can put a dampener on your vacation. Think out your luggage well and only take what you really need, and can handle. A mid sized suitcase and/or a small satchel or security toughened day pack is all any over 50 really needs to worry about.
Keep Your Documents Secure
Put a photocopy of the main page of your passport in a separate piece of luggage and take a photograph to be kept in your mobile device including credit cards and travel insurance.
In many foreign countries, Thailand being a stand out example, it seems more and more travelers are injured or killed in road accidents overseas every year. Some countries are notorious for their corrupt police force, so in the event you are involved in a traffic accident be very mindful of the way in which it may be handled. Should you happen to find yourself in an uncomfortable situation the best thing to do is to hail a cab and head someone where you feel safe. Whilst a taxi may cost you more than the local public transport, your ability to quickly alight from the scene to preserve your personal safety will be well worth it. If you are threatened, contact your local embassy or tourist police as soon as possible.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
While everyone loves a glass or two of the local alcoholic beverage of choice or perhaps a glass or two of wine, always stop while you are still sober. When traveling solo the most important thing you have going for you is your instinct and situational awareness. By dumbing them down with alcohol you might well become an easy target for those with bad intentions.