I recently attended a 40th Birthday party and found myself being bombarded with questions about my lifestyle as a frequent solo traveler. Many of the women there were over the age of 40 and felt as though it was much too late for them to embark on such a journey. Some expressed that while they would love to plan and go on a solo trip, they wouldn’t know where to begin. This caused me to think about how a lack of knowledge and fear of the unknown can keep so many women from embracing solo travel and all that it has to offer.
Here are my top 8 tips to help put women over the age of 40 at ease about planning their first solo trip.
Start by Getting into a Mindset
If you’re reading this, you’re probably already on your way to the right mindset that you’ll need in order to take this first solo trip. If you really want to bring it to fruition you have to give yourself permission to see this as a realistic goal. Make a decision at this very moment that you will no longer view solo travel as a far-fetched dream. Set a date, and start to spring into action. Take a deep breath and know that you too can very well plan and take a solo trip that you will never forget.
Define the Purpose of Your Trip
Now that you’ve given yourself permission to seriously pursue a solo trip it’s time to think it through and decide what you want out of the experience. While this step may sound simple, I really want you to take your time and think about this while jotting down notes. Ask yourself simple questions such as, do you want to relax on a beach someplace like Hawaii? Would you enjoy learning about the historical sites in Rome? Perhaps you want to travel to a place like Cambodia to volunteer, go skiing in Colorado, or take lots of historic walking tours in Cuba. Are you looking for a small-budget trip somewhere close to home, or do you want to experience luxury somewhere across the world? Take the time to get really clear about what a successful trip looks like for you. Now you’re more prepared to make this dream a reality.
Just Book It!
Some might advise you to save this step for later, but I say…why wait?! Now that you’re clear about the kind of trip you want to take, you should go ahead and book it right away. Yes, before you’ve created a solid plan, book the trip. This will help to prevent procrastination and the chance that you might talk yourself out of it. If you truly want to make this a reality, just book it!
Traveling solo for the first time can not only be intimidating but it can get stressful at times. One way to eliminate stress is to have a few mobile apps handy that will help to guide you. There are apps available for any and everything that you can possibly think of. I’d suggest downloading the app for the flight carrier that you will use. This will allow them to send you updates about gate changes, weather and more. The area that you will travel to may have an app that helps you locate events, maps and local news. If you are traveling internationally download a language translator and a currency exchange app. The options are endless. I would suggest doing a quick google search to find options that are both generic and specific to your destination prior to going. For a list of suggested apps look here!
Connect with Locals
Traveling solo doesn’t mean that you have to spend every waking moment alone. One of my favorite parts about traveling solo is that I get to meet and make new friends all over the world. I always look through Facebook for groups of expats and travelers that will be in the area that I’m traveling to. Reach out to your friends and network. Ask if anyone happens to know anyone there. Search through various meetup websites and look for meetings and people that are of interest to you. There are lots of options for meeting people both before you arrive and after. So on your solo trip, the amount of time you want to spend alone vs. with locals and potential new friends is totally up to you.
Create a Tentative Plan
Now that you know where you are going, you can begin to create a plan. I like to encourage tentative plans because I realize that most of the time things don’t go exactly as scheduled. Use a planner (digital or paper) to plan out your days. Think about tours that you want to take, and attractions that you want to see. Research and find out if you should purchase a ticket in advance. There are often times attractions that are better to attend during a certain time of the day. Begin to think through all of these logistics. Perhaps you can plan to meet some of the locals that you’ve started chatting within groups online. Jot down some ideas, put some things on the calendar, and begin to add some structure to your upcoming trip.
Prepare For and Use Travel Safety Tactics
One of the best ways to put yourself at ease is to create a safety plan. A few quick tips are; buy travel insurance, make sure you are aware of how you will be traveling from the airport to your destination and study the area before arrival so that you are not completely unaware of your surroundings. The Smart Travel Enrollment Program often referred to as STEP allows international travelers to register with the nearest U.S. embassy while receiving the latest security updates.
Also, be sure to inform members of your family or friends of where you are going, how long you plan to be there and provide them a copy of your travel insurance documents. You can never be too safe, so be sure that you are prepared and do a great deal of research to discover other useful tips. You can start by reading 7 Travel Hacks That Could Save Your Life.
Let Go & Just Travel
You’ve made a decision, planned your trip, prepared yourself, and created a safety plan. The only thing left to do at this point is to just go, see and do all that you aspire to. Remember that your plan is simply a guide to start you on your way. Allow yourself to get sidetracked, go with the flow, and enjoy each moment for what it presents. Solo travel has so many rewards to offer. Enjoy your trip!
Have you ever planned a solo trip? What advice would you give to a first-time solo traveler?