Single Travel Tours for Women 50+: Everything You Need to Know
Guest post by Afra Willmore
Did you find that first grey hair and get panicked? Maybe your body doesn’t quite do exactly what you want it to like it did in your 20’s and 30’s?
Hey, you’ve still got that rock star attitude and lust for adventure and I salute you — whatever age you’re at! But I also hear you that planning a single travel tour at 50+ can be intimidating and can look different than the trips the 20-something gals are taking. That doesn’t mean you can’t let your silly side shine and have some fun on the road!
If that midlife crisis is sinking in and you’re ready to prove age really is just a number, then this post is for you.
You’ll learn why some people over 50 decide to become solo travelers, how to arrange to go traveling solo, and get some great ideas about some of the most popular destinations where you can join fellow travelers exploring local culture and enjoying authentic experiences across the world.
Why You Might Be Thinking of a Midlife Single Travel Tour
When we’re in our 20’s and 30’s we often make grand plans for travel — Norway! London! Backpacking through Europe! But as the years pass and life gets more complicated, those dreams of seeing the sights and doing all the adventures can take a backseat.
Now, maybe you’ve checked in with yourself and realized it’s time for a change. Good on you! And there are so many ways you can still enjoy adventure travel even in mid-life while traveling solo.
There are a number of reasons why people aged 50+ become solo travelers. Maybe one of these reasons speaks to you:
- Divorce. Going through divorce can mean your usual traveling partner is no longer available. Friends and family members might still be coupled up so it’s solo or no go.
- Unwilling Partners. Even in the happiest partnerships don’t necessarily mean that both are like minded travelers. One might have a stressful job and just want to spend their free time on a relaxing beach holiday while the stay at home parent would prefer a more adventurous trip like a tour to explore Machu Picchu or maybe somewhere off the beaten track with like minded people who love intrepid travel.
- Loss. Losing a partner, friend, or close family member, especially one who enjoyed organized trips can leave the survivors with a renewed sense of mortality and drive to live their best life. This can often lead to some soul searching solo adventures or checking out tour companies who offer options for solo travelers to get back out there.
- Empty Nesters. As your carefully nurtured children head off to college or a new life away from home with barely a backwards glance, it’s a great time to rediscover yourself. And what better way to do this than by enjoying unforgettable experiences on a solo adventure in great company where you can make new friends?
- Happy Singleton but need inspiration. For some, living and traveling solo is their bread and butter. But sometimes it’s difficult to decide where to go on a solo vacation, what to do, and how to get there. Joining a small group tour with people of your own age group can be a wonderful experience allowing you to enjoy a stress free solo trip while someone else handles the details.
How to Travel Solo When You’re Over 50
Thanks to the wanderlust trend, adventurous social media influencers, and a more global community there’s less stigma attached to solo travel. While you can still book through regular travel firms, possibly paying hefty single supplement fees, today’s solo traveler has many more options available with tour companies specializing in vacations for the solo traveler.
Whether you want to join a ladies group, head to popular destinations, or go off the beaten track, I’ve got good news for you: there is a host of vacations for you to choose from. But first, you’ll want to decide on the type of solo adventure you’re going for.
Independent Solo Adventures
Pros: Exciting, unique, and flexible.
Cons: Potentially dangerous. Lots of dull and sometimes confusing and stressful paperwork. Typically more planning time.
Some people like to spend their precious free time relaxing in a hot spring by themselves with a good book and a cocktail. Others prefer to use their vacations as an opportunity to meet new people and socialize. Some people like a little bit of both. If you’re more on the independent side and want to call all the shots, then an independent solo adventure might be just your cup of tea!
Whatever your style, the world is a big place, so consider making a “bucket list” of places you’d like to see. Check government advice on the risks associated with traveling to certain countries or regions. Then when you’ve narrowed down the best destination for your first adventure, it’s time to book.
Although it can seem cost effective to book everything separately from your own laptop, it’s often wise to consult a travel agent who can make sure your trip runs seamlessly and can make sure your plans are protected from unexpected events getting in the way (hello, 2020). Plus, there are a LOT of nitty gritty details in travel that can feel overwhelming on your own that a travel agent can figure out for you.
Without an agent, you make all your own travel arrangements (transportation, accommodation, experiences, attractions, food, etc.) and have to deal with any delays, booking issues and any situation that arises during your trip. For some, that’s exciting and empowering! For others, that’s a whole lotta headache that ruins the whole point of vacation.
Travel agent or not, these are a few considerations you’ll want to think about before setting off for your trip:
- You should also ensure you have adequate travel insurance to cover you in case anything happens to either your travel plans or your health.
- Check if you need visas and apply well in advance if possible. Double check you have the right visa for the purpose of your visit.
- Dig out your passport and make sure it’s in date and you have enough time remaining on it to abide by the rules of the destination you are planning to visit. Some countries require you to have as long as 6 months remaining on your passport at the point of entry.
- Book any necessary vaccinations well in advance and order any meds like Malaria tablets which may be needed, depending on your itinerary. Sometimes even an airport stopover adds a requirement for vaccination in some countries.
- Change your currency for local currency before you travel as generally that will give you a better exchange rate and you can usually find deals with low or no commission costs. In some countries it’s worth having some US dollars – do some research and find out if that applies to your proposed destination.
- Consider carrying some currency on a special travel card but be aware some very rural areas off the beaten track may not accept the card.
Active Group Adventure Tours
Pros: Planned itinerary to make the most of your vacation. Organized adventures. Choose your preferred activity level. Opt for a private room. Meet new friends.
Cons: You don’t get a say in who you travel with. Less options for spontaneous experiences.
Group tours can be a great way to share the excitement of adventure tours. You can enjoy all the fun of spending time with other solo travelers during the day but then if you’re on the introverted side, you can still take time for yourself at the end of the day.
All you need to decide is where to go and whether you’d prefer small groups where the solo travelers might bond quickly, or are happy to be part of a larger group where you might have more chance of meeting someone you click with as a friend or maybe even as something more depending on your situation.
Usually you make your own way to the destination, then a guide will run the trip organizing hotels, meals, equipment hire etc.
A few things to keep in mind with this type of travel:
- Check the tour company details for the trip because many don’t include travel to the meet-up point.
- Ask about single supplements — some companies offer private rooms as standard while others may charge a single occupancy supplement.
Group Vacation Tours
Pros: Simple booking with everything organized. Expert guides to maximize the experience. Lots of options to suit all tastes. Perfect if you are flying solo.
Cons: Less flexibility than independent travel. Less thrills.
If you’re more of a “boutique hotel” person rather than “bear hunting in the woods” person, a group vacation tour might be the way to go. Imagine a river cruise with great food and drink available pretty much all day.
Vacations should be about enjoying yourself and while for some, the perfect trip is kayaking around the Galapagos Islands, for others it’s relaxing by the pool with a cold drink. Most companies offer a dedicated section for pretty much all vibes.
If this is the direction you’re leaning, these are my tips:
- Check the average group size, especially if you particularly prefer to be part of a small group when traveling solo.
- Ask if tips are included so you don’t have any unexpected costs.
Plan Your Own 50+ Group Trip
Pros: You know all or most of your group before traveling. You can do and see exactly what you want with a custom trip.
Cons: Trying to get everyone to settle on a mutually acceptable itinerary. You need to form a group yourself.
Maybe you’re a leader type and want to plan your own girls trip. When you bring together a group of friends of your choice, you’re guaranteed good company. How cool would it be to share your adventures and explore the world with your besties? (SO cool!)
The hardest part of organizing these kinds of vacations is getting everyone to agree on a destination and activity level. My friend invited me to join her on a cycling tour of Italy once — I love spending time with her and I love Italy, but I was less sure about the cycling bit!
If you want to plan your own trip, try these tips:
- Get everyone to list their favoured top trips and see if any coincide.
- Get everyone together, make a night of it browsing popular tours, and pick out the parts that appeal most to everyone.
- Go to a tour operator and have them create a package for you (pssst, Explorer Chick does custom private trips too 😉)
Top Destinations for Single Travel Tours 50+
Whether you’re looking for vast spaces to rediscover yourself in, natural wonders to marvel at, or unique destinations to brag about on the ‘gram, there are a multitude of wonderful places across the world to explore.
Here are a few ideas for the single traveler to get your juices flowing:
Hiking, geysers, spectacular views — what more could you ask for? This is a fabulous destination for solo women over 50 who want a memorable trip. Save the legs with some horseback riding and make your trip as long (or as short) as you want it to be. The park is huge and there’s so much to do and see here all year round.
If you’re over 50, the glaciers have diminished in your lifetime but you still have the opportunity to see these majestic natural spectacles. Get up close and personal with a kayak trip to see glaciers and icebergs or get even closer with some ice climbing action.
Or maybe mountains make your heart beat faster (in a good way). There are plenty of volcanic mountains to hike and climb here too. You might even see the Northern Lights.
Dramatic fjords, thousands of islands, and majestic mountains make Norway a top destination for the over 50 explorer and adventurer.
Norway has more unique habitats than almost any European country. In some areas during the summer, the sun never sets in “the land of the midnight sun.” Perfect for hiking, photography, kayaking and climbing.
You’ll also definitely want to make time to meet some of the local people, many of whom have actual Viking heritage!
Famous for the huge animal diversity and Darwin’s finches, Galapagos Islands should be on any nature-lover’s bucket list.
This area is a pristine, natural paradise perfect for the over 50 traveler who appreciates learning about unique environments. And if you’re looking to experience a unique environment, the Galapagos is definitely where you want to go — some of the species there can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Eco-conscious tourists will be glad to learn that measures are in place to protect the islands so you can enjoy a visit knowing you aren’t damaging the islands or any of the feathered, furry, or scaly residents.
Belize has the lowest population density in Central America so if you are looking for an “off the beaten track” experience, this could be the place for you.
Having said that, Belize also has some fabulous boutique hotels so if you want to travel solo and rest in luxury this is also a great destination. Go snorkeling or diving to explore the huge barrier reef and discover Mayan ruins in the rainforest jungle. There’s no shortage of high adrenaline activities to liven up your life too so you could have plenty of tales of bravery and adventure to tell everyone back at the office and some breathtaking pics to share over your socials.
You might be a Grandma but you don’t have to give up living your best life!
Meet the Writer
I started my career as a writer in print journalism back when we had typewriters in the office and the fax machine was the latest tech. I switched to creating online content ten years ago and in building up my portfolio, rediscovered myself after years of being “just” a mom (to 7 children no less). Short hair, don’t care. I love travel, great food, and my family. Not necessarily in that order.