This blog post was updated on March 7, 2023.
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 eight tips to help put women over the age of 40 at ease about planning their first solo trip.
Get into the 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 solo travel as a realistic goal. Make a decision at this very moment that you will no longer view it 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: 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 volunteer in Cambodia, 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.
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. You also might be able to save some money by booking in advance. And once you’ve actually bought the tickets and selected accommodations, you’ll be less likely to back out!
Get App-ed Up
Traveling solo for the first time can be stressful. One way to mitigate stress is to have a few useful mobile apps handy to help to guide you. There are apps available for virtually anything that you can possibly think of. First, 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. You can also click on the following link:
You Might Also Enjoy: Solo Traveler? Check Out These 14 Apps You Need to Download
Connect With Locals
Traveling solo doesn’t mean that you have to spend every 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. There are even apps that are specifically designed to help you meet people while you travel. 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 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. Often, certain attractions 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.
Have a Safety Plan
One of the best ways to put yourself at ease is to create a safety plan. A few quick tips: 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 you arrive so that you are not completely unaware of your surroundings. If you’re going on an international trip, consider signing up with the Smart Travel Enrollment Program, often referred to as STEP, which 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, let them know how long you plan to be there, and provide them with 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?
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