My Itchy Travel Feet | The Baby Boomer's Guide To Travel

Solo Travel Advice for Baby Boomer Women

2010/08/19by Donna Hull

Are you a baby boomer woman who hesitates to travel by herself? I’ll be taking my first solo international trip soon when I travel to Cancun to blog for Marriott Resorts as part of blog paradise (follow the twitter hashtag #blogparadise to see live reports). I asked seven wise women travel bloggers for their best solo travel advice to help me prepare for my trip.

Janice Waugh, Hacienda Tres Rios, Mayan Riviera

At Solo Traveler Blog, Janice Waugh, writes about discovering the world, and yourself, through solo travel.
Twitter: @solotraveler
Facebook: Solo Travel Society

My #1 rule for independent women solo travelers is to stay in public. Public is always safer than private. I meet a lot of great people in my travels and I’ll go to pubs with them or on excursions, but I always stay in public. If I’m invited to the family home for a traditional meal, I politely decline unless I have some really good reason to know that it will be safe. I’m not even keen on sharing  a cab unless the taxi has been picked up from a legitimate taxi stand. I’ve missed a couple of good opportunities this way but I have so many great opportunities as I travel solo that I don’t see this as enough of a downside to break my rule.

Barbara Weibel, Aqua Azul Waterfall, Chiapas, Mexico

Barbara Weibel writes Cultural Travel with Hole in the Donut. She recently completed a 3-month solo backpacking trip through Mexico.
Twitter: @holeinthedonut
Facebook: Hole in the Donut Travels

I’ve been traveling solo much of my life. In addition to common sense actions like asking for a room above the first floor and checking to make sure the windows and slider doors are locked upon returning to the room each day, I also suggest that travelers pick up several hotel business cards from the front desk on the way out. Then, when it is time to return, you need only hand the hotel’s card to your taxi driver or show it to people when asking for directions.This is especially helpful when in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. It’s also a good idea to leave your room key at the front desk when you leave, as large fees are often charged for lost keys.

Gray Cargill, Coca Falls, Puerto Rico

Solo Friendly is Gray Cargill‘s blog, which aims to generate interest in solo travel by highlighting Gray’s personal experiences as a solo traveler. She also writes Vegas Solo.
Twitter: @SoloFriendly
Facebook: SoloFriendly

When you’re a woman traveling alone, have fun, enjoy the new friends you make, but don’t allow yourself to get drunk, and avoid doing drugs. When your judgment is impaired, you’re at your most vulnerable. Keep an eye on your drink (whatever it is) at all times so no one can slip something unfriendly into it. I never drink to excess when I travel, and I still manage to have a great time.

Sherry Ott shares her solo travel experiences combined with eye-catching photography at Ottsworld. She’s also one of the founders of Briefcase to Backpack, a site offering travel advice for career breaks and sabbaticals.
Twitter: @ottsworld
Facebook: Briefcase to Backpack

Sherry Ott, Thailand

My best tip is plan on eating alone—embrace it, love it, revel in it. For some reason women seem to be very self conscience about eating alone and it’s simply a mental hurdle that you have to get over. My best advice about eating alone is to take a book. If it has an interesting cover, all the better, someone may strike up a conversation with you. Also, eat at the bar whenever you can as opposed to being seated at a two person table alone. When you eat at the bar (with a book), you are completely approachable. I’ve never met a bartender that won’t talk to you; and generally, anyone sitting next to you will also talk to you. You may find yourself being asked to join other people before you know it!  However, if you sit at the bar with your book and eat dinner alone and no one approaches you; then simply revel in the quietness of the night and the peace that you seldom get in your busy life. Sometimes, being alone is the best medicine one can ask for.

Evelyn Hannon

At Journeywoman, Evenly Hannon inspires women to travel safely and well while also connecting with female travelers internationally. Twitter: @journeywoman

If you are travelling in developing countries, pack a small flashlight. Power failures can be frequent.

If touring solo for the day, leave a note in your room explaining where you are going. If you don’t return as planned, this information could be used to help track you down.

Before you leave home, check out the website, www.HERmail.net. This is a free directory of women around the world willing to mentor other women as they travel to their part of the world. For a solo woman traveler sometimes the advice and assistance of a local female can be immeasurable.

Heather Cowper, Castle at Sidon, Lebanon

Heather Cowper shares her adventures at Heather on Her Travels with travel tales, videos and podcasts from around the world.
Twitter: @Heathercowper
Facebook: Heather on her travels

My travel tip for solo female travelers is to find free accommodation through travel networking websites like Hospitality Club or Couchsurfing. These websites connect travelers who may offer free accommodation, meet up for a coffee or meal or just offer helpful advice — I often host solo female travelers through Hospitality Club. At first sight, it may seem a bit scary to stay with a complete stranger that you’ve only connected with on the internet. However, the trick is to check the prospective host’s profile carefully and choose someone who has similar lifestyle and interests to you, and probably stick to female hosts or families. You can also review comments that other hosts and guests have made about them to reassure yourself that you’ll be meeting someone who you’ll have a good experience staying with. By traveling this way, you’ll have an instant friend to advise you about the best things to see and do and you’ll probably also tap into their social life—no lonely evenings eating alone! By saving money on accommodations, you’ll be able to travel for longer although don’t forget to bring some small gifts, offer to cook a meal or help out around the house in return for your free board and lodging.

Jennifer Huber, Kayaking in Florida

After spending 20 years in the tourism industry, Jennifer Huber now shares her insider tips on traveling alone, not lonely, at Solo Travel Girl.
Twitter: @JenniferHuber

I travel to seek out experiences and learn something new which sometimes means traveling down the literal beaten path. While I don’t want to miss out on opportunities, I’m a believer in staying aware of my surroundings and trusting my instincts. If a setting doesn’t feel comfortable or look safe, I will leave or avoid it altogether. When staying at a hotel, I make sure the desk clerk does not say my room number aloud when other guests are around to prevent someone requesting my key from the desk. I’m careful not to mention what hotel I’m staying when meeting people while exploring during the day, and I avoid posting information about the hotels I’m staying on my Twitter and Facebook accounts, waiting to post the information after I’ve checked out.

Thanks ladies, for the wise travel tips. Do you have advice for solo women travelers? Post it in our comments section. Why should baby boomer women sit on the couch because we’re afraid to travel alone? Let’s get out and explore!



A boomer travel and lifestyle authority who is exploring the world one activity at a time. Besides writing and publishing My Itchy Travel Feet, she also writes about boomer travel for My Well-Being Powered by Humana, Make It Missoula and is the author of New Mexico Backroads Weekend Adventure.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

@Cajun_mama August 19, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Love all the stories and tips from these amazing solo women travelers. Keep up the adventures, ladies.

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Anonymous August 19, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Ooh, I like that tip about leaving a note in your room explaining where you’re going to be for the day. I’ve never thought of doing that.

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GlobalButterfly August 19, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Have fun, solo trips are the best, you will learn so much about yourself!!! My tip is stay open to all possibilities and not let fear stop you from doing anything!

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Frugal Kiwi August 19, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Great tips! Travelling alone can be fabulous as you’ve no one to please but yourself.

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Anonymous
Twitter:
August 19, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Excellent tips from fellow female travellers – stay safe and have a great time

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Mark H August 19, 2010 at 11:49 pm

What a wonderful effort coordinating the thoughts and treasured advice of seven experienced women travellers on solo travel. everyone should read this as it is an excellent advert for being positive about solo travel and not using it as an excuse to not travel and seeing the best that this world has to offer.

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
August 19, 2010 at 11:57 pm

Thanks, Mark. I enjoyed highlighting the sage advice and talents of 7
women who are experts in solo travel.

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Fida
Twitter:
August 20, 2010 at 1:15 am

Great advice, travel girls!

…and don’t ask for the room key by telling the room number when someone is close by. It happened to me (in an upscale hotel), and 10 minutes later somebody knocked on the door (almost midnight). I called the desk to ask if housekeeping was knocking on my door. They sent someone up immediately and met a guy walking away from my door.

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
August 20, 2010 at 1:17 am

Fida, that’s scary. Thanks for sharing your story so that no other solo woman traveler makes the same mistake.

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
August 20, 2010 at 1:18 am

I hear ya.

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Peggy Serendipity Traveler August 20, 2010 at 1:30 am

I have been traveling solo for much of my life and enjoy both solo travel and traveling in the company of a small group of like minded women travelers. The world is a friendly place and people are helpful.
Perhaps letting go of fear is the best way to enjoy traveling whether alone or with others.

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Ruthpennebaker August 20, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Donna — What a great resource for women! Thanks so much for gathering all these great tips.

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Anonymous August 20, 2010 at 1:50 pm

I don’t usually travel alone but my elder daughter does and this post has so many great tips that I will forward it to her this minute!

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
August 20, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Glad you enjoyed the post, Sandy. Thanks!

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Andy Hayes
Twitter:
August 20, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Great ladies and great tips! The real risks in travel are often much bigger in our heads than they are in reality. In many cases your most dangerous travel, statistically, is getting to the airport. :-)

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sheryl August 20, 2010 at 2:05 pm

These are wonderful tips! I took a trip by myself about 7 years ago, just to prove I could do it. I needed to get over my fears and it was so freeing to be able to actually go ahead and do it. But it was in a resort where I didn’t have to travel around, so I felt safe. Now, touring a country/city by myself? That’s totally intimidating to me. Maybe I’ll get up the nerve to get over this fear one of these days. If I do go, I’ll have to re-visit this post which is filled with so much wisdom.

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Jane Louise Boursaw August 20, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Excellent advice from seasoned women travelers. I love the idea of heading off on my own, but haven’t done it too much in my life. But I’m getting the travel bug reading this – and with some common sense and wisdom from women who’ve done it, it sounds not only feasible, but loads of fun, too.

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boldlygosolo August 20, 2010 at 6:39 pm

Great piece, Donna.

I fully realized the benefits of solo travel recently, yet again, when I was away for the weekend with a friend who wanted to stop at a Wendy’s for a quick bite. NO! I don’t like fast food.
And didn’t want to wait in line for something I wanted to do. Wha?? When will I have another chance?
And got cranky, bringing me down.
All in all, kinda ruined my good time.

I’ve traveled alone for many years, facing initial apprehension but always coming out the other side with fantastic experiences. My solo trips are always, always interesting and meaningful and I end up meeting and talking to many local people, many of whom take me under their wing. And I do all the things I want and none of the things I don’t!

As for solo dining, the toughest part is walking in the door. And even that’s not very tough any more. Once I’m seated, I’m seldom self conscious. I do take a book or journal or crossword puzzle so as not to get bored while I wait for my food.
I have had SO many nice waiters who seem a bit perplexed by me but often end up giving me little treats or spending a little extra time at the table.

Those who hesitate to travel solo, try it once. I highly recommend the freedom to do and go exactly as you please.

Ellen at boldlygosolo.com

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MelanieHaiken August 20, 2010 at 8:35 pm

This is a great post, with really helpful tips. Many of these solo women bloggers I already know and follow, but you’ve introduced me to a couple new folks as well. Thanks!

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MyKidsEatSquid August 20, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Great tips. I especially liked the idea of picking up several cards at the hotel desk to give to the taxi driver.

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Anonymous
Twitter:
August 20, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Oh – I also like that tip by Evelyn! I guess that’s why her tips are always so popular!
Thanks for including me Donna!

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Merr August 20, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Great post, fantastic advice – I’m bookmarking and sharing. This is a post, by the way, for everyone – not just boomer singles! Excellent, excellent job!

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Susan Johnston August 21, 2010 at 12:54 am

Great idea for a post and great tips! I took a solo trip to Glasgow, Scotland a few years ago and had a blast. It helps that I’m of Scottish descent, so I wasn’t an obvious target (had I gone to, say, Shanghai, I don’t think I would have felt as comfortable traveling alone). I ended up meeting another redhead (from Canada) at my hostel, and we explored the city together. A few people even thought we were sisters!

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Ayngelina August 25, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Great advice, I also take hostel/hotel business cards as even sometimes in Spanish speaking countries I’m not pronouncing the name exactly right and the driver doesn’t know where it is. Cards make it much easier on everyone.

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marthaandme.net August 26, 2010 at 6:51 pm

This is a really great collection of tips. I’ve often felt I would uncomfortable traveling alone, but this offers lots of suggestions to make it really doable. Thanks!

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Hotels Sydney August 30, 2010 at 11:49 pm

I’ve never traveled alone because like everyone I’m scared. But these tips made me rethink that I should try traveling alone. Everything will be all good when you follow the tips above and just be careful who to trust.

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Bill Martin June 25, 2011 at 7:20 am

Hello,
I love to travel alone. This is the time to live away from the family for some days. There are lots of things to care  while traveling alone. You have described them in a great way. Thanks for sharing such a nice information.
cheap flights to budapest

Reply

Dana September 5, 2014 at 2:50 am

I always felt intimidated at the idea of travelling alone. But after reading your article and the tips you’ve given, definitely pulled me out of that shell. Thanks for all these tips.

Reply

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