Solo Travel Over 50: What You Need To Know

Are you holding back on solo travel over 50 because…

You don’t have a travel partner? You’re not sure about traveling solo?

This website is for women over 50 who have decided to see the world ON THEIR OWN. Forget the partner, forget the doubts – you can own this!

Here’s how I did it

Well into my working life, it hit me: my job was repetitive, my relationship unsatisfactory, and I had a severe case of wanderlust. In fact, I was in the midst of what turned out to be a mid-life crisis the size of a minor planet.

So I took off to see the world for six months. I came home nearly four years later.

Those were heady days of discovery, before Instagram had made even the remotest sights snap-worthy or the Internet had connected us instantly. 

Before leaving home, I did plenty of research but there was little travel guidance specifically aimed at women. We were just an extra page or two in the general guidebooks. Solo travel over 50? Not one word. We were invisible.

Things have changed, of course – but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

Women on the Road exists to help you with the nuts and bolts of solo travel: how to plan a trip, how to stay safe, what to take, how to budget, how to avoid getting lonely – all the things you face before, during, and after you travel.

We are curious, smart, enterprising, enthusiastic, inspired or dynamic – we are women who want to see the world on our own terms.

The more of us get out there and claim the world, the more we assert our right to do so.

Remember – Women on the Road is a website written by a woman, for women!

I believe all women can travel independently: young, older, adventurous, shy, timid, intrepid, insecure, afraid, professional, student, straight, gay, grandmothers and granddaughters. Health and finances will determine how far you can go.

As a woman, you can travel solo for a few hours or days, for weeks, or yes, even years. What counts is the confidence to take that first step.

A few words about my own solo travel over 50

The wanderlust started many generations before me: according to my father, our family descended from the Golden Horde and the warriors who swept across Asia and Europe many centuries ago.

My maternal grandfather was one of seven brothers who emigrated from France in the late 19th century, each to a different country – Brazil, Australia, Canada, the USA, England, Greece and Egypt (that’s my branch of the family). 

My own upbringing was hardly more sedentary. My father was an engineer and moved so often with his work that I rarely finished a school year in one country.

Born in France, my first European trip was on the Orient Express when I was five weeks old (I did bring my mother along). I then grew up in Canada – where we lived long enough to become citizens – and Spain, the “home base” to which we returned after moves to countries like Algeria or Iran.

I took my first solo trip (without my parents’ permission) from Spain to Morocco when I was 15. I still remember sitting in a café by the sea sipping mint tea, listening to the muezzin from the mosque, watching the ships come in, and feeling as though I owned the world. I managed to stay an entire day before my father tracked me down and marched me back.

I became a journalist, a foreign correspondent, following stories across borders with the occasional (but rare) stretch of stability, soon to be interrupted by yet another travel obsession. I moved from Madrid to Montreal to Geneva to Bangkok and back to Geneva, maintaining my family’s serial expat tradition.

Until that famous mid-life crisis hit.

The result? Africa (12 countries), Asia (9 countries), Cuba, and the Baltic States (3).

I wrote about development, about HIV/AIDS, poverty, war, women’s rights. I care deeply about these issues and eventually joined an international UN development agency, and retired in May 2015.

But I’m not done with solo travel over 50, not by a long shot.

The first thing I did was to launch another travel website: Offbeat France.

Yes, as life goes on (I’ll probably have hit that big seven-OH! by the time you read this), I still marvel at seeing the world: I still get motion sick on most transport, I still can’t swim (I’ve almost drowned before) and I have vertigo so I tend to close my eyes on narrow mountain trails (not recommended). Yet I spend a great part of my life in moving vehicles, I love to kayak, and you’ll often find me at altitudes far higher than I’d bargained for.

Over my years of solo travel over 50, I somehow managed to get lost in a Mozambican minefield, paddle my way out of a Philippine flood, get shot at in Beirut, and survive an elephant-cow stampede in Nigeria – so I’ve learned the art of taking care of myself on the road or in any foreign city. My joy is now to share that learning with you.

Solo travel over 50: my map

The birth of Women on the Road

Funny thing: I had no intention of writing a blog, not ever.

When I first returned from my years of gallivanting, I wanted to write a book about my travels, but I put it off for so long it didn’t make much sense anymore. And then we had this thing called the Internet, so in late 2006 I started Women on the Road, specifically for solo travel over 50. If I could do it, so could the rest of you.

This website, Women on the Road, is here to help you travel, whatever your fears or concerns. Whether it’s to plan a trip, discover the world or live abroad, this is where we can have conversations about how women travel differently than men and why, like it or not, it’s less safe for us out there. It shouldn’t have to be that way.

But we are different!

We need to be more careful at night. We have to fight off more unwanted attention. And we may be (often wrongly) perceived as more vulnerable.

Why am I telling you this?

Because during my travels, I didn’t have the hands-on information I needed to stay safe, travel smart or simply get from A to B. I learned on the fly.

Solo travel over 50: that's me in Istanbul
Stopping off for coffee on the streets of Istanbul…

Are you a woman…

  • Who wants a career break?
  • Who is suddenly single?
  • Who has retired and now has time to see the world?
  • Looking to take a gap year?
  • Who needs to get away on her own for a while?
  • Trying to gain strength or independence?
  • Who wants to prove she can do it?
  • Who has a partner who hates travel?
  • Who needs a fresh start?
  • Who wants to see beyond the tour groups and souvenir shops?
  • Searching for a spiritual experience?
  • Curious about solo travel over 50?
  • Or are you a woman who simply likes adventure?
  • Whatever your reasons or your situation, if you yearn to travel far and wide, you belong here!

You’ll find it all here. If this is your first time on this site, check out the introduction on my Start Here page: it walks you through all the highlights and must-reads. 

Women on the Road NEWS

If you’d rather receive your women’s travel tips and strategies by email, then subscribe to Women on the Road NEWS  using the form at the bottom of this page. I’ll get it to you every other Tuesday (and I’ll send you my list of the ‘9 indispensables’ I never travel without!)

Readers of Women on the Road NEWS have learned how to calculate their carbon footprint, use Google Maps to stay in touch, start learning new languages, eat out alone without panicking, deal with travel burnout, and find free accommodation anywhere in the world.

Are you concerned about safety? Do you want to become a volunteer? Need to make money while you travel? Women on the Road NEWS shares precise and practical information with you about how women travel so you’ll be prepared, no matter what your trip throws at you.

And of course, you’ll also get my list of 9 indispensable items, the ones I can’t travel without!

“Leyla, your newsletter is great. I loved your page on how to enjoy eating alone since that is frequently uncomfortable for us solo travelers – your tips really helped. Your ezine is so packed with info and helpful links I always look forward to receiving it. It has opened my eyes to new places, different ways to travel, and useful resources. I always get extra inspiration from your ezine to travel more and be adventurous. I consider myself a pretty savvy traveller, but you are my idol!”
~Diane Gilabert, San Diego, USA 

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Every other Tuesday, with special goodies in your Inbox!

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