Advice for Mature-Aged Solo Travellers
Advice for Mature-Aged Solo Travellers
Mature-aged solo travel continues to grow, and for those in their 50s, the solo traveller holiday market is an important one.
Several surveys show this trend.
- According to Australian market research Roy Morgan, the number of older Australians taking holidays has risen since 2007, “but a growing proportion of them are going it alone.” According to their latest statistics (2015), 5.4 million Australians aged 50+ took at least one holiday in the 12 months to June 2015. The proportion of those who travelled alone on their last trip rose from 15.4% in 2007 to 16.3% in 2015, an increase evident among the 50-64, 65-74 and 75-79 age groups, with the 80+ age group remaining stable at 18.7%.
- Hitwise, the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool, said in 2018 that there had been a whopping 143 percent increase in “solo travel” searches over the past three years, after analysing searches made by 3 million consumers in the UK across all search engines.
- According to a 2017 survey conducted by US marketing firm MMGY Global, one in four Americans said they would travel solo, an attitude “as prevalent among Millennials as it was among Baby Boomers.” Baby boomers as a demographic is defined as those born following the end of World War II (usually considered to be in the years from 1946 to 1964).
- The 2019 American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) survey shows that Boomers continue to be avid travellers, planning to take a total of 4 to 5 leisure trips in 2019. Included in the Top 6 of planned international travel is “solo travel” (7%).
Why do people choose to take a solo holiday?
The reasons why travellers choose to travel solo vary. Plenty of travellers seek out a solo adventure to experience their destination at a deeper level. As a solo traveller, you set the pace and make the choices: wander where you want, eat what you want, and leave when you please. You no longer need to worry about a travelling partner who wants to stay cosy in the cabin, when you’re itching to get out into the beautiful scenery of your chosen destination.
Travellers find that locals are much more likely to approach you when you travel alone – with lucky solo travellers often becoming the guests of locals.
Most of all, a solo holiday is the way to get to know yourself and to build resilience. When you’re done, you’ll inevitably look back on your trip as a time you challenged yourself and came away a stronger, more independent person.
Join Other Mature-Aged Solo Travellers with Odyssey
One of the biggest worries for potential solo travellers is the concern that being alone for so long might be lonely. Travellers frequently ask whether it is easy to meet other solo travellers on their journey.
The answer is that with solo travel becoming more and more common, you’ll certainly meet others who are on a solo holiday.
The majority of mature-aged solo travellers do not wish to travel alone. According to London-based global market research firm Mintel in their 2018 Solo Traveller Report, 52% of solo travellers were interested in taking an escorted tour.
This is where Odyssey Traveller comes in. We offer fully escorted tours designed for mature-aged travellers, and we generally have a mix of those travelling solo or as a couple. We have been providing adventure and educational programs to small groups since 1983. A “small group” for Odyssey is typically up to 18 travellers, but we’ve experienced running a tour with as few as four people.
This is a comfortable alternative to big-bus tours for large groups, and an excellent option for those travelling solo but would like a hassle-free travel experience.
Travelling alone can be an intimidating prospect, particularly in a group tour environment. But on an Odyssey tour, you are not the only solo traveller. Our Australia or New Zealand-based Program Leader, who will escort your group for the duration of the program, will usually be also travelling solo. Our small group tours have like-minded people, travelling by themselves or with their partner. In fact, the more adventurous destinations tend to be dominated by solo travellers!
Odyssey Traveller’s small group tours are not designed strictly as solo travel tours, but are tours designed for those who like to explore and learn as they travel. We see travel as a form of education. The focus is on history and culture, allowing participants to more fully experience a destination in the context of the past events that have shaped it.
Roy Morgan’s 2015 survey appears to back us up regarding our participant demographic; the survey says that “solo travellers from the 50-plus group were more likely than their younger counterparts to report having visited museums, art galleries, gardens or parks and historical places, but less likely to have gone shopping or attended a concert.”.
Education is not a short-term effect–you can reap the benefits long after a trip has concluded, making you a happier person who is more compassionate and more engaged with the world. (Read our related article: Why Join A Small Group Tour?)
Travelling Solo as a Mature-Aged Woman
Women are driving the growth of solo travel, claims MMGY Global. A Booking.com poll revealed that 72% of American women are taking solo journeys.
The reasons why women are more likely to travel alone than men are an issue of debate. Some have suggested that women are better able to cope with being alone for extended periods of time. Others have linked the increase in women choosing to travel alone to women’s empowerment: increased freedom for women in the later 20th and 21st century has empowered Baby Boomers and Millennials to do what would have been a dream for many generations of women. For many women, setting off on a solo trip is a chance for freedom and independence, to challenge oneself, and build confidence. It’s not surprising that out of the 72% who have travelled alone, 59% are planning to do so again within a year!
Of course, women have travelled alone for centuries. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out the fascinating stories of these Five Female Explorers.
However, solo female travellers are also likely to worry about their safety. Unfortunately, women travellers can encounter threats to their safety than men do not experience. However, there are many ways for women to feel safe while travelling. Make sure to research your destination closely before you head off. Find out what the expectations for women’s dress are, and work out how to navigate common problems. Look into what places it might be better to avoid. You’ll find that the internet is a great resource – as are other women who have been to your destination.
We have a number of resources about safe travel.
If you’re feeling unsure about travelling alone, make your first destination somewhere a bit more familiar – is there a European city you’ve always wanted to visit? After your first solo escape, you’ll have more confidence to take on somewhere a bit more adventurous.
Whatever you do, try not to feel intimidated about travelling alone as a woman. A majority of our travellers here at Odyssey are women, many of whom are solo. We cater to women seeking all kinds of experiences and offer flexibility. Whether you want to balance education with independent travel, or are on a tour to meet like-minded friends, our tours can work for you.
Solo Travel Advice for Mature-Aged Travellers
We have summarised the steps for you to take in order to make your solo travel dream a reality. Odyssey Traveller is easily reached by email or phone. Our friendly and experienced staff can help design the adventure you are seeking.
1. Think about where you want to go
The first step is to sit down and really think about the kind of holiday you want.
Is it an exotic journey across Japan by rail? Perhaps you want to indulge your passions – for history, for archaeology, perhaps even Scandinavian architecture and design. The challenges of a walking tour might build up your confidence so that you can return home fitter and ready to take on anything. Or perhaps you just want to discover as much of the world as you can. Once you have determined the type of holiday you are craving, narrow it down to some dream destinations. Time of year is something to bear in mind. This will influence how practical your dream destination might be. Our article on responsible travel might point you toward some places you had never even thought of!
Odyssey small group tours offer a diversity of experiences from walking the Camino to trips to Iran. Any of the Odyssey tours can be done solo, and you’re sure to meet wonderful people along the way.
However, here are a few you might like to consider if travelling by yourself:
- Gobi Dinosaur Dig
- Contemporary Japan small group tour
- Iran Heritage small group tour
- Anglo French small group tour
All of our Guaranteed departures are listed here. Odyssey Traveller will in good faith guarantee a tour to proceed when it reaches the minimum number of participants required to operate the tour. See our Terms and Conditions, and visit our FAQ page if you have any questions.
2. Research destinations, and don’t forget to take the season, and any visa requirements, into account
We have a handful of “Questions About…” articles that may help you here, especially when still in the planning stage of your travel. Below are articles offering visa information and/or information about the weather and the best time to travel:
3. Talk to your friends and family. They may have advice or experiences to share with you. Plus, we know they would love to be involved in the process
In our experience, family members of solo travellers are supportive – and frankly impressed! Explain to them your motivations, and share with them the details of your impending holiday. They can track your itinerary, and they might also like to read the detailed country profile we mail to participants prior to their departure. We also provide the list of accommodations and contact numbers in case they need to reach you.
Family and friends of solo travellers can rest assured knowing that you will be accompanied by fellow mature-aged travellers throughout the tour. Odyssey Traveller can be easily reached throughout your tour, should anyone want to check in on your progress. Of course, if you are too busy scaling a glacier, or trekking along an ancient pilgrimage track, we can pass along the message on your behalf.
4. Chat with our staff, by phone or email. We can help allay any concerns or nerves you might have
The need for hassle-free travel goes beyond making travel arrangements. A big concern is security. As Tiffany Misrahi (2014) of the World Economic Forum says, “Security is one of the primary criteria for the selection of a holiday destination. Most people want to feel that they are in a safe and stable environment.”
Our links to local guides and suppliers give us regular updates on what’s happening on the ground. This is particularly valuable in certain tours–such as our tour to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan, the Silk Road tour, and Iran Culture & History–which we’ve been running for many years without incident but which may understandably worry certain travellers due to geopolitical concerns.
You can also speak to us regarding accommodation. Single travellers have the option of their own room – a rare luxury for some! To avoid the single supplement, we may also offer a shared room option, by matching two people of the same gender for a twin share. This can lead to even greater friendships and extra support for one another.
The single supplement is the extra cost for a single person to stay in a single room, compared to two people splitting the cost of a double room. Sizes of the single room vary by destination, but do call us for a chat to get an idea!
5. Visit your GP for a check-up and advice on your physical fitness
While affording certain freedoms, solo travel also comes with greater responsibilities. You must understand your own fitness limitations and manage any conditions you may have. For all travellers, we recommend a thorough check-up with your doctor beforehand. They can help assess your fitness levels, provide advice on your health, and may equip you with emergency medications to carry with you in case.
Don’t forget to bring enough of your prescription medication too, as well as the script as some countries may scrutinise your medication at the port of entry.
Unsure if your level of fitness will enable you to enjoy the program? Contact us first so we can have a chat prior to booking.
6. Book your tour
The $500 deposit to secure your place on an Odyssey tour is refundable until a tour becomes guaranteed. See our Terms and Conditions.
We can help you every step of the way, giving you advice and making arrangements to satisfy your requirements.
7. Start preparing!
Start walking or consult a fitness instructor if your tour requires a moderate fitness level.
See our article on Graceful Ageing with health and travel tips.
8. Research the countries you will be visiting
Read the books we recommend on our tour reading lists. We will also be sending you Prep Materials and a travel wallet prior to the tour, which contains profiles of the country we will be visiting as well as general advice.
9. Purchase the clothing and equipment you will need and pack accordingly.
Our articles below may help:
10. Make arrangements for the care of your family or pets in your absence
Short-term respite might be an option, or family members and friends could help out while you are away.
Upon arriving at your destination, make your own way to your hotel. There you will meet the other members of your tour, along with your experienced guide. Activities usually commence the very next day, following a sumptuous welcome dinner.
If there’s a travel destination you’ve always dreamed of visiting – whether the Amalfi Coast or rural Thailand – stop waiting for your partner, family or friends to get on board. Travelling solo is becoming ever more popular, and solo travellers make up a considerable portion of our travellers here at Odyssey. Before you know it, you will be returning home with a new set of memories and, with a bit of luck, new lifelong friends. Take the plunge and book your dream holiday this year.
About Odyssey Traveller
Odyssey Traveller has a Loyalty Program for regular travellers. Membership of the alumni starts when you choose to take your first international small group tour with us. To see the discounts and benefits of being a Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Diamond alumni member, please see this page.
We are also pleased to announce that since 2012, Odyssey Traveller has also been awarding $10,000 Equity & Merit Cash Scholarships each year. We award scholarships on the basis of academic performance and demonstrated financial need. We award at least one scholarship per year. We’re supported through our educational travel programs, and your participation helps us award this scholarship.