Traveling solo as a boomer is as good as any anti-aging cream.
In the eyes of others, solo travel says you are strong, capable, confident and, yes, even a little exotic.
Be just a little intrepid and your world will tilt on its axis. You'll enjoy experiences you would never get traveling with someone else – never mind staying at home.
Solo travel is not a Plan B for those who can't find someone with the same interests, time and money to go. It should be a Plan A, at least some of the time, for boomers who love travel.
Solo travel is the amazing opportunity to pursue your own interests at your own pace without compromise and, at the same time, access aspects of yourself and the world that are otherwise inaccessible. It is an experience everyone needs.
Why is Solo Travel Great for Boomers?
- It's time for a little freedom. If you have spent most of your life surrounded by and responsible to others this is your chance to be responsible to no one but yourself. Go to bed when you like. Get up when you like. Eat, drink, wander, explore what you like. It's all up to you.
- You can explore new interests. Solo travel can be a gateway to new interests. Whether it's music or hiking or discovering like I did last month that I like champagne, try something new. Maybe you wouldn't go to a bar by yourself at home but on the road in a town like Nashville, how could you possibly stay in with all that music around you. Perhaps hiking is not part of your lifestyle but if you find yourself in the Lake District of England you may just find a new love. From pottery making to yoga, if something has struck you as enticing but unlikely to fit into your lifestyle at home, try it while traveling solo.
- You are interesting to people of all ages. I find that many people in their twenties and thirties are really curious about me. They seem to look at me as the kind of person they want to be when they get to my age – which, in their mind is very, very old. They see me as bold and welcome me into their conversations. And they often tell me that I am not like their parents at all. It seems I'm an alternative model for their future.
- Your world expands with Cross-generational conversations. Talking with people younger and older than me breaks me out of my limited world and gives me a better understanding of the issues faced by others. And they amuse me. I remember walking down a street in Italy with an American man in his twenties. He turned to look back at a beautiful young woman who had passed us and said to me, “I love Italian women. They have great junk in the trunk.” Really?!? To have such access to young attitudes is a wonderful if not curious and sometimes disturbing thing.
- Other cultures respect age in ways that North America doesn't. My hair is grey. Given the courtesy I receive in some countries I have thought that I present as older than I am. Then I realize that it's more about age being respected more in other cultures. Traveling on a train in India a young man wouldn't dream of moving me from my seat even though I was willing (insisting) and had, by means of a seat shift, taken his. No, his response was: “but you are our guest.” I suspect someone younger may not have been treated quite so well.
Great Destinations for Solo Travel Boomers
In reality, the best destination for any solo traveling boomer is up to them. You might want to climb Mount Everest and if you're up to the challenge, it's a great destination for you. So what can I offer in terms of destinations? How can I generalize? Here are trips that just about anyone can enjoy and they don't involve learning another language.
- Spectacular Western Canada. I traveled Western Canada by plane, train, and car this past August. The grandeur of the mountains and the friendliness of the people, great hikes, and small towns, made it a great trip. Simple to plan and affordable. You can read about it here Western Canada Itinerary: Top Things to See and Do and British Columbia by Train: Budget or Luxury. It’s Your Choice.
- The United Kingdom. The UK has so much to offer. The culture is different but the language is the same, making it interesting and easy. London is a top destination for most of us. I find the center of the city to be very safe. I've walked at night and had no problem. Read Affordable London! 32 free and low-cost tips and Where to Stay in London. I'll never tire of Northern Ireland's glens and its dramatic Causeway Coastal Route. Read Solo Travel Northern Ireland: 32 Tips for a Fantastic Trip. There's also Edinburgh and Liverpool. I could go on and on.
- Road trip! I love a road trip. I especially love a road trip along the coast and through a rugged landscape and one that drops me into small towns and villages to meet locals. This past summer I took two road trips. One in New Brunswick and the other in Nova Scotia. Both provinces are very accessible by car for those who live on the eastern seaboard of the United States. Read The Great Acadian Road Trip: Itinerary, Tips and Lots of Pics and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia: 32 Tips for a Great Trip.
- An educational holiday. This year my goal was to become fluent in French. I don't think I'll be fluent but I have improved greatly by using holiday time for French immersion classes in Quebec City, and Lyon, France.
- A river cruise. A river cruise covers many destinations in one trip with only one unpacking and repacking involved. That makes it easy. But I suggest that you select your river cruise carefully according to your own tastes and interests. I've been on two. I went from Nuremberg to Vienna with Uniworld as booked through Premier River Cruises. It was the more luxurious of the two cruises I've taken. The food and accommodation were elegant, the educational component was fine but secondary. The second I took last year. I went with Grand Circle Cruise Lines on their 12-day Eastern European cruise. The food and accommodation were fine but the educational component was excellent. It was also significantly less expensive. For my tastes, I'd go with Grand Circle. Here are some photos from that trip.
- Walking trips. My last walking trip was the Isle of Skye in September. On the path, I would stop, take in the view and find a huge smile stretching across my face. I smile a lot but smiling just because the air and view and exertion are so wonderful is not part of my regular day. I really suggest walking trips. You can be as adventurous as you like. I encourage you to read this post by Susanne, a reader from Austria. Solo Travel Destination: The West Highland Way, Scotland.
- Creative travel. Creative travel is travel for the express purpose of learning something new. It may be cooking or a language, dance or painting. Creative travel helps you enter your destination through the local culture and by meeting locals and learning from them. Read Solo Travel to Creative Destinations: 10 tips to go creative!
Tips for Boomers Traveling Solo
Traveling late in your second act (or maybe in your third) is a wonderful experience. Whether you go for luxury or budget travel, it's all available to you when you travel solo as a boomer.
- Others will welcome the excitement of you. You are, by the mere fact that you're traveling solo, adventurous to many. You'd liven up an evening for people. I have enjoyed many a coffee or meal with travelers and locals who welcome me into their conversation. I enrich them as they enrich me.
- Hostels are not just for the young. Once referred to as youth hostels, today they are just hostels. Some, like the YHA hostels, are still non-profit but others are part of hostel chains. Yes, just like boomers, hostels have grown up. As the hostel clientele of the 60s and 70s has matured so have hostels. To get a sense of staying at hostels as a boomer, read Sleeping with Strangers.
- And more tips relevant to boomers from other posts on Solo Traveler
- Solo Female Travel Safety Tips: The Same But Different
- Tips for Shy Solo Travelers
- Solo Travel: You Don’t Have to Eat Alone
- What to Do at Night When Traveling Alone – 7 Tips
- Solo Travel Safety: 50 Tips (Revised and Updated)
- Travel Alone and Love it: 50 tips (Revised and Updated)
- Best Solo Travel Advice: Top Tips from Janice & Tracey
And one final comment, don't hesitate to return to places you visited when you were younger. Knowledge gained and life lived over the years will take you to a deeper understanding than you could have possibly had before.